Thursday, July 20, 2017

Writing Without a Day Job -- Unemployed or Retired?




by Linda Thorne

Although I hope to be able to call myself a career author someday, right now I don’t make enough money or publish enough books to do so. This past May I published a post here about losing my 9-year job in human resources. I’d been especially busy at that job for the previous six months and was at my wits end because I could not get any time in for writing—zero, none, nada. I was lucky to do a minimum amount of promotion and I had literally stopped attending all author events and group meetings.

My writing life had come to a halt and a big part of me kept thinking maybe I could let the job go and see how I fared. Then I stretched my daydream of quitting into maybe in 6 months, which would turn into maybe in a year, and then I’d add another year and say to myself I could make it for at least two more. It became apparent I’d never let it go and I saw no end to the increasing workload with new owners and restructuring. I didn't get to make that choice and therefore the reason I titled my post, Be Careful What You Wish For.

That May post brought in a number of comments from others who had gone through similar situations trying to write while working a day job and/or having their jobs eliminated. Their experiences ran the gamut from saying their lay-offs were absolute blessings to admitting they didn’t get much more writing done while off work than they did when working full-time. Some people talked about the pluses of not working; i.e., less time constraints and fewer expenses on things like gas for the car and business clothes.

In one of my replies to comments made on that May MMM post, I said I’d get back to everyone on how this pans out for me as time goes by. It’s been three months since I lost my job and here are some things I learned. Yes, I’ve been able to do more writing, but I’m not as disciplined as I hoped to be. When the job was an eight to fiver with a true one-hour lunch break, I got almost as much done writing as I do now with no day job. It was only in the final six months that the work demands became so extreme to stop my writing life. So it was not having a job that held back the writing, it was the increased amount of time it took me to do the job.

I’ve decided I don't want to be retired, but temporarily unemployed instead. I'm looking forward to getting back to my profession in human resources where I have a regimen, deadlines, and a paycheck.

Our dogs would like to see me back at work too. They’re not happy when I feed them later in the mornings and they let me know it. Notice I’m not in the chair in the sitting room below?

That’s because our fur friends don’t want me to use it in the daytime hours. I used to sit in there in the evenings and read instead of watching TV. If I go in there before five o’clock they whine to my husband making the darndest fuss. Somehow over the years they’ve gotten the notion it’s their room during the day whether they're in it or not. I can still use it at night, but daytimeoff limits to everyone but them.   

So I’m past the decision stage and hoping to get back to a regular job. If I get one, I’ll continue to work at writing in my spare time and will likely get as much accomplished as I do now. I hope you'll all wish me luck. 

12 comments:

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Interesting that your dogs know your routine so well.

Linda Thorne said...

Yes. It's mostly the female dog (lighter color), Abby, but she gets the black dog stirred up too. I was reading yesterday in that chair and only Abby was whining to my husband. He told her to come tell me to my face if she didn't want me in there, but she wouldn't do it.

Morgan Mandel said...

Buster has his own room, but it's not the living room, so that works out fine for us. He can sleep on the easy chair, which he decided was his own, or in his crate, where he also has a bed. We make sure nothing strange is on the floor, just in case he gets curious, and then we close the door when we have to leave for anything.

When I lost my job, I was burnt out anyway from working at the same place for 38 years. After unemployment, I just called myself retired. Funny, but I got more writing done before when I had a day job. Other things take priority instead, especially during the summer when I walk the dog a lot and also watch him in the yard so he doesn't get into mischief. Winters are no fun, so I like him to enjoy good weather when we have it.

Morgan Mandel

Linda Thorne said...

Morgan, I guess you were burnt out. Thirty-eight years working at one place is very unusual these days. You said about the same thing on the writing in your comment on my May post. We each fall into our own work habits with writing and I found out mine is more like your experience and a few others. I keep finding something else to do and the next thing I know the day is over. I'll get up and scrub some floors or run an errand, but I sure didn't write a lot. I may as well go back to work as I'm motivated by $$$. If I don't find a job, I'll have to call myself retired, but I'll give it a good try first. Buster sounds adorable.

Gloria Getman said...

When I look back on the years when I was employed, I wonder how I ever did all the things I did. Now, in retirement, I get less done. Good luck to you in wherever comes your way.

Linda Thorne said...

Thank you, Gloria. I think I'm in with those who get less done in retirement. I've worked so many years of my life, I honestly don't know how not to retire and would rather not now.

Amy Reade said...

I wish you lots of luck finding a job that fits your needs, Linda. Sounds like you need more than you have now and less than you had when you left your last job. You need a happy medium!

Your dogs make me laugh.

Linda Thorne said...

You hit the nail on the head, Amy. Thank you.

Beth Fine said...

Since your main character is an HR manager turned detective, perhaps getting back to your career field will bring new plot twists in "Promomtion to Die For." Those who know you surely agree that your working through lunch, plus 8-10 hours a day, and on Saturdays, was killing the Golden Goose. You were so good at fielding almost impossible situations thrown at you by the new owners, their myopic managers (with MBAs from the Peter Principle University) did not know what to do with an experienced go-getter. I've had that happen months after being fired: a supervisor would call to ask where files were or to say she had not idea I kept a particular system going. :-( Also I can now commiserate with the dog owners. My rescue cat is training me for when she wants to go out or come in. If I don't respond on her schedule, she simply bites me or attacks my leg, drawing blood each time. Silly me, I thought cats were always easier to have. NOT!

Linda Thorne said...

I actually didn't know any of our new owners (maybe MBAs & myoptic :), but I'll never know, just that there was a restructuring, which caused the elimination of a number of positions. It's kind of a coincidence because the same thing happens to my lead character in my work-in-progress, A Promotion to Die For, but I'd already written that before I was laid off. I didn't need to use the recent experience since I've been through so many restructurings (and even a hostile take-over at one company) and then a lot of people I know have been through the same and also like your experience you talk about here. P.S. Your "rescue" cat sounds feisty.

Beth Fine said...

Amazing. The muse used a scenario before it actually happened to you? Can't wait to read how you developed that. By the way, some of your commenters mentioned lack of concentration to write once they had the freedom from work. To help me concentrate, I dab Geranium Essential oil (a balancer oil)on a cotton ball, put it by my computer, and then periodically tap it. The aroma drifts up, gets me out of the starting gate, and soon rounding the bend of that day's race. Some folks add Peppermint essential oil (a stimulant) to the blend. What also helps me is to play Baroque music very low. The repetitive musical phrases work neurologically different from strong melodic music.

Linda Thorne said...

So that must be what you're doing in that picture. Looks like you're reaching for it as it drifts up. I believe in using whatever gets each of us going.