Friday, August 19, 2011

Having a real job (or two)

People talk about work/life balance all the time, and how difficult it is to maintain one. It's even more difficult if you are slaving away at something that you consider work, but nobody else does. Because I might work eight hours at my day job, then come home and write for six or seven. And no, this is not the same as doing nothing even if I don't have a lot to show for it at the end. Just because I go to bed at 3 o'clock in the morning doesn't mean I've been up watching TV and stuffing around on the internet. I wish it did, but it doesn't. 

The problem with writing as work is that we writers know that it's work, but family and friends often don't. Because, to be totally fair, a lot of the time it looks exactly the same as eating chocolate and staring into space. Sometimes it looks the same as looking at fan videos on Youtube for Captain Jack Harkness and Ianto, but really, I'm working, I promise. 

Jack & Ianto from Torchwood and yes, I'm still traumatised. 

So when I'm acting like a weirdo rushing from one job to another, from one computer screen to another, it's not just that I've turned into an anti-social cow. (I've always been one of those.) It's that if I want to be a professional writer, I need to treat this as a real profession. I need to put in a lot of hours and a lot of practice, and in order to do that I need to make sacrifices. If I was working double shifts at my day job you'd understand. But because it's 10 a.m. and I'm still in my pyjamas, you think it's not a job. 

It is. It just happens that the uniform is fuzzy pink flannel with bunnies on it. 

Any tips for explaining to the important people in your life that writing is an actual job? 

(On a side note, is anyone watching Torchwood? How are we feeling about the new series? I'm loving it, in a cranky sort of way. You all know why. I'm still upset about Children of the Earth.)  

16 comments:

  1. Those of us that know and love you understand, appreciate and enjoy our 'facetime' with you xo

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  2. ...ps...captain jack is HOT!! ;)

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  3. No one's ever really questioned it, but it can be really hard to say no to going out for the day with family or friends when all I want and need to do is write.

    Aaaaw, Ianto! I gave up on Torchwood after Children of the Earth. I held on after the second series, but nope, no more.

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  4. I don't tell people that I write. So they probably think that I'm the laziest woman on earth. But there are worse titles.

    I know exactly what you mean, though. The whole writing thing is a hell of a lot of work, but non-writers don't realise just how much. If you ever find a muse, give her my number.

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  5. When co-workers of my husband's used to ask him what I did all day (since I didn't "work" full-time outside of the house), I said tell them I spend my time watching soap operas and eating chocolate-covered cherries. A writer's life is all a mystery anyway and I knew they'd never really understand what I do!

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  6. Yep, no respect for the writer in her pajamas. Nothing worse than being deep into thought, about to write an award worthy sentence, and someone pops their head in the door to ask where the toilet paper is.

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  7. @ jai73: Thanky ou! Now I'm trying to figure out who you are, and when we last had facetime. Did our facetime also involve winetime? Bottles of it? Is that you, Janelle? And Captain Jack is hot!

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  8. Miss Cole, it can be awkward with family: "It's not that I don't want to spend time with you, it's that I want to spend time with my imaginary friends more..."

    I know where you're coming from with Torchwood, but I'm glad I gave the new series a go. I like it, but I miss the old team.

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  9. Christine, you'll have to fight me for the title of laziest woman on earth. Except neither of us could be bothered, probably... so that would be a tie, surely.

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  10. Kenda, that is a great line! I think I'll have to start using it. Or maybe I'll tell people I can't possibly leave the house because I'm designing an evil machine that will control the weather...and see how long it takes before they try and stage an intervention.

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  11. LG, LOL! And then they get cranky because you've used it all to write your masterpiece on.

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  12. Flannel PJ's unite! Except mine are Christmas themed and out of season. Darn partridges in their pear trees.

    I usually say "I write but I'm too poor to do it in cafe's like JK Rowling." I admit what I'm doing but then it's a great transition into talking about Harry Potter and not my writing habits.

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  13. The uniform is fuzzy pink flannel with bunnies on it.

    No one told me. I'm so embarrassed. Thank god for writer friends, or someone might've seen me in my fuzzy blue Underoos.

    And as for the rest, yeah, sometimes I do wish I carved life-size bears with chainsaws, if just so 1) people could see it was difficult work, and 2) if they still complained, I wouldn't hear them.

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  14. @ Steph, your JK Rowling answer is a great example of deflection! I might borrow that as well...

    @ MC, LOL! I'll make sure you get the next memo about the official uniform. And I'm proud to say I know what Underoos are now I've done the underwear meme!

    i like your idea about carving bears with chainsaws. Chainsaws tend to make all outside criticism invalid, don't they?

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  15. Yes, Jai73 is Janelle, and yes - there was wine ;) xo

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  16. Janelle, there should always be wine!

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