I have a secret.
For almost three months I’ve been out of the workforce on an unintentional writing sabbatical. The secret is that I’m delighted to have this time to concentrate on wordsmithing before another bout of the 9 to 5 begins.
On the other hand I’m not delighted at my current lack of income – far from it.
I’d left a temporary job in December assuming I’d find work again by early February but so far nothing suitable has presented itself. Lack of income does a funny thing to the brain which isn’t funny at all. The brain goes into survival mode and with it the gnawing fear of poverty rears its ugly head.
When fear came knocking at my door I took up my pen and wrote, and continue to write. Since December I’ve entered three short story competitions and onto the fourth, filed a magazine submission, and completed another writing workshop.
These come in handy when the internet doesn’t play nice…
What I also learned last month was that there’s a distinction between genre fiction and literary fiction (oh save me from my embarrassment). I discovered this just before I was about to submit to another writing award (*insert screaming halt), then spent the next few hours in edit mode attempting to include greater emotional depth to the story.
What did I do?
I shrugged my shoulders and got on with it. I learned something new, I had a go, and I improved my writing (at least I hoped so).
Living in an area with a noisy population of screeching cockatoos, cawing crows, laughing kookaburras, twittering green parakeets and other bird vocalisations (of which there are too many to mention) there’s rarely an opportunity to sleep in. So at dawn this morning, while contemplating the situation I engineered through my decision-making, I decided to do something different.
Travel writing. Something I hadn’t done since completing my Diploma of Freelance Travel Writing and Photography – last century. A new opportunity had landed in my lap and this time I’ll run with it.(see Divine Inspiration is a thought-bubble)
For me writing doesn’t come easily, especially in a literary sense, and have been impatient for results, in my case immediate results. Unfortunately the reality is, it can take a while.
From my perspective, what I’ve come to realise about writing is that:
- a love of storytelling and wordsmithing fuels motivation
- it requires an inordinate amount of time and patience to see the project through – accept and make peace with this immediately
- the saboteur of fear and self-doubt will attempt to sabotage efforts – before turning away from a project ask why not?
- fear can keep you from writing, or it can fuel a desire to aim for greater earning potential, or other achievement
- once the fear barrier has been broken, it becomes easier to submit stories
- rather than compare myself with other writers, continue learning the craft, connect with a like-minded community, improve on the last piece, keep writing, focus on my story, submit, and stop worrying whether it’s good enough (see improve on last piece).
This post isn’t all about me though. When unexpected down times arrive they’re opportunities to catch up with friends, family or get projects off the ground; it’s a time to try something else; discover a new purpose; revisit goals – the possibilities are endless. Like Billy Ocean sang, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
My goal of freelance writing remains a constant, but until I’m able to support myself through regular commissions, I’ll soon be sitting at someone else’s desk – again. But that’s okay – I’ve got time on my side and have accepted that this might take some time…