Tuesday was supposed to be my first day back at work. Last year, sitting in my boss’s office while he and I looked at a calendar, I was so sure I was definitely going to come back. I even went so far as to confirm a date for my return. We settled on November 1st, 2016.
I loved that job. Not every day was great, of course. Like all jobs, some days you want to storm out and forget it all, some days you fall short and feel disappointed in yourself, some days you are in meeting after meeting after meeting and the work just piles up and you feel frazzled. But most of the time, it was good, and I could do the things that I thought I always wanted from my day job. I wanted a job where I would get to travel, and I did. I wanted a job where I could put my nonprofit skills and passions to work, and I did. I wanted to get a promotion by working hard and proving there was a need for a new role, and I did. I worked hard, I kept trying to do more, and I loved it.
Did you catch the part up there where I called it my day job? Because I’ve had a side hustle since before anyone called it a side hustle. What I have always wanted to do is write.
I’ve written poetry and stories since I was a kid. I would stop now and then, sometimes as much as a year went by and I didn’t write a thing – particularly in my twenties when I was still figuring out a lot of things for myself. I’d publish in literary journals here and there, my track record was spotty. My first book of poetry was published in 2013, with much of the editing process and revising done while I was on maternity leave with Lila. I remember having my laptop on a folding tv tray table that I set up beside her crib, so I could write while she would pacify until she fell asleep, or while nursing.
I went back to my day job, and tried to write on the side – managing to write some poems here and there, evenings, weekends. Sometimes they worked out and sometimes they didn’t; sometimes the revising would go on forever and they would take hours and hours only to eventually be scrapped. I got a contract for my second poetry collection, and worked towards it. I love a good deadline – my day job trained me well for working to deadlines. Stories and writing ideas would come to me all the time, and I’d write them down (or not, and sometimes forget), and tell myself I was going to work on that someday. And somehow over the last ten years that someday has resulted in my brain being stuffed up with stories and ideas for about 4 novels, and another poetry collection concept.
The final poems and editing work on my second book of poetry took place while I was maternity leave with James. It was easy to see a theme- I could finish a book, but only if I wasn’t at work.
Guy and I have talked about it as long as we’ve been together. One day, I was going to quite my job and write. In this future dream, the plan was for me to have some freelance part time work that I also loved to do, so that I could still have my own income, but have more time to write. Ideally, half the day, every day. Factoring in weekends off due to small children. I wanted it to be something knitting related -because you a know how crazy I am about this craft.
One night, I was out for coffee with a friend, moaning about how I felt like it was time to make the change but how could I, when I should really keep my job so I could afford a bigger house? Currently we live in a 2-bedroom townhouse. We love it, but with two kids, two cats, and ourselves…. it’s cozy, to say the least. But my friend looked at me in that slightly exasperated way friends do when they’ve heard you go round this little chestnut too many times before and asked, “Well, which do you want? Do you want to write, or do you want a bigger house?”
Ideally, both. But if I had to choose, there was no hesitation. “I want to write,” I said.
“So figure out a way to make it work.”
I hardly slept the first few nights after I decided. This was a crazy idea, right? Totally nuts to give up a good job, a stable job with benefits. Especially when statistically speaking, the odds are not in my favour – there are over 200,000 books published every year and most of them never make even a second printing, much less the bestseller list. It’s nuts to do this. On an intellectual, rational level, I know this. But in my heart…. it’s what I’ve always wanted. Just to try. To really put it all out there and try.
No one has told me I’m crazy to do this. I kept waiting as I slowly, one by one, began to tell the people close to me that I was going to quit my job and write, and no one suggested that this was a bad idea. Even my mom, who has always stressed the importance of a stable income and having your financial ducks in a row, was completely behind the decision. To be fair, my mom has always believed in me, but this is a big leap of faith. Most moms would wisely advise their daughters to work on their passion projects on the weekends and think about getting a bigger house.
An unexpected benefit of this transition is that I found the absolute perfect part time job! I freelance for Stitchcraft Marketing, a company that specializes in marketing and PR specifically for craft businesses, big and small. It’s amazing- it’s a buffet of all the things I’ve loved best about the knitting world, and I get to help clients with their social media, blogging, strategy planning … all the things that people who create product don’t have time to do.
And when I’m not blogging and social media-ing for Stitchcraft and my awesome clients, I write. I know that it’s going to take a while. That there is loads of hard work ahead, and that there are going to be times (probably years) where I’ll be toiling away and people will shake their heads and think that I’m not doing anything at all.
But I’ll know. And now, you’ll know, too.