I’m a neurotic writer. I know, I know, “neurotic writer” is redundant, like “crooked politician.” But still. Anyway, because my quiver of neuroses has so very many arrows in it, I’m only going to focus on one in this post.
Although I have every right to lay claim to the label of “writer” by virtue of having been published several times over the course of my glacially advancing career, I almost always feel like a poseur when I refer to myself as a writer. What’s up with that?
Ever since deciding I wanted to be a writer in the seventh grade, I’ve always referred to any job I had as a “day job.” I wanted to make it clear that I had a different focus. But one of the problems with day jobs is that they can easily become just “the job,” especially if full time. You’re completely reliant on that job for income, and your writing ends up as an afterthought.
Remember that painfully awkward scene in Friends when they play an old videotape from prom night, and Ross says that he wants to work “on his music”? I’ve often felt that the audience’s reaction to that line is the same thing people think when I mention “my writing.“ Yep, I really am that neurotic. And it was even worse when I would say, “I’m working on my novel.” Even though sometimes it was literally true that I was working on a novel that was contracted for publication.
I was talking with someone recently about my struggle to make time for writing, and she nodded in solidarity, mentioning her own attempts to get creative projects done on her days off. She was being sympathetic, but in my head I couldn’t help but think, “Those are your hobbies. Hobbies are great, but writing is not my hobby.”
But perhaps that’s the real problem here, that I have inadvertently let it become a hobby: it’s been shoved to the sidelines, the back burner, it’s the person with a paper cut on the bottom of the triage list. I’m endeavoring to change that.
I’ve reduced hours at my current part-time job, which will henceforth be known as my hobby job. My additional time at home allows more writing time (as well as more time for freelance editing gigs to help fill the coffers). I’m devoting a lot of attention to—wait for it—my novel.
So my writing is no longer the person with a paper cut, it’s a guy with a head wound. Okay, maybe not the most inspiring metaphor, but I can work on that. After all … I’m a writer.