I Might Get Fat
“I spent the entire time in the coffee house writing,” I told my husband.
“That’s great. I’m glad you got some time to yourself,” he said, sounding a bit preoccupied.
Okay, so I didn’t get the reaction I hoped for. But that’s probably because I didn’t say what I meant to say. Which was that I would like to do this for a living, not just pretend to be a writer for a week, but to really do it, week after week. And for him to not see it as a luxury in which I am indulging, but as an actual contribution to our family and the world.
Why don’t I say that? I think we all know. Because he would have an anxiety attack at the revelation that I might seriously contemplate giving up my full time job for a career in which I have never been given the slightest indication that I might somehow earn a paycheck. Because I’m afraid that he might take a serious look at my “hobby” and declare that I actually have no talent – at least not the kind that would allow me to do this on a professional basis.
Also, because I am not actually certain it’s a good idea myself. I mean, even assuming I could make a living doing this, do I want to? I have a tendency toward depression on days that I don’t interact with adults. But is that due to lack of socializing or a feeling of unproductivity? Because, so far, that feeling has not overcome me during my week of experimenting. Of course, I am only spending my time writing a couple of times a day.
And I might get fat. I mean, if I am going to be sitting in coffee houses, I have to order things. And sitting on my butt writing doesn’t exactly burn the calories that racing around a classroom teaching does. Probably my husband hasn’t considered that possibility, but I certainly have.
Ideally, I should be able to do both, right? Work a full time job, and write in my spare time. I’m a teacher with summers off. It’s not like I’m a lawyer working eighty hours a week year round for God’s sake. I could send my little compositions off periodically hoping for an acceptance letter, but keep my day job just in case.
But it doesn’t really work that way. I remember reading an interview with an author once, and she was disdainful of people who said that they couldn’t find the time to write. Basically, she stated, if you want to write, you find the time. Get up early before the kids. Or stay up late. Easy for her to say, I thought. It’s a lot easier to sacrifice your sleep and sanity when you know you are going to get paid for it. It feels self-indulgent and a little illogical when there’s a pretty high probability that you’re not going to earn a penny.
I’m fairly sure that the author would tell me that I am writing for the wrong reasons, then. She is probably right. I don’t really know why I want to write. I just know that I always thought that I would someday be able to call myself a writer, just like I always knew I would be a teacher. People seem differently impressed when I say that I am working a book, though, than when I say that I teach elementary school. I’m not sure how long I can string them along, though, with the book claim. Eventually, someone is going to say, “Have you been working on the same damn book for twenty years? Maybe you should find another hobby.”
All I know is that if I spend my life writing as a hobby, and someone doesn’t discover me until I’m dead, I am going to be really furious. Because I guess we all want to leave some kind of lasting mark on this world, but what satisfaction can you get if it doesn’t happen until after you’re dead? Surely that’s got to be one of the circles of Hell. Sorry, Stieg Larsson.