Sunday 21 December 2008

Coming Home

I’d changed job last November. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It really did. I needed a new challenge and there was nowhere else to grow in my current organization. Plus there was a great opening at another organization, which would mean stepping into a management role.

I thought that was pretty cool.

But then I became consumed with that work. It became the job I couldn’t leave at work. And my writing began to suffer for it.

In the mornings, heading to work, I wasn’t thinking about what terrible things my characters would go through (or sometimes nice ones. Rarely, but sometimes). I was making to-do lists for my workday. And I wouldn’t stop at a coffee shop to write. There was no Second Cup (or any other viable coffee place) near where I worked, so my routine was on shaky ground.

In the evenings, instead of reviewing the day’s writing and planning the next morning’s scenes, I would be thinking, again, about work. Did I do that? Did that person do that? ... Should I have done that?

So it was a pretty dry year, really. Storytelling kept on trucking with regular shows, but the writing suffered tremendous blows. I still sent out my previous writings though, and something strange started happening: publishers started to bite.

I shudder sometimes, thinking of what choices I might have made otherwise. The publishers’ interest highlighted the fact that there might in fact be a place for my writings. If publishers hadn’t started to show interest, I like to think I wouldn’t have given up my writing, but deep down inside I fear I might have. That’s really difficult to admit. I was such a routine hound just a year ago.

The choice was easy. This, stacked up with a few other items, made it clear my current position wasn’t right for me. If I was going to continue being a writer, published or not, I needed a job that would support and preferably energize my writing.

So I started job hunting. And then my old employer contacted me with a job offer. A new, very interesting position, and they wanted me to apply. It wasn’t guaranteed I would get it, but I knew I’d fight for it and get it, if I really wanted it.

And I did.

It felt like coming home. I could take the bus again, not realizing how tiring driving to work had been. Now I could just sit like a lump for half an hour on the great rolling beast and let my mind wander to prepare for writing. And then - my Second Cup. I have to admit I’d maintained an affair with my Second Cup, driving out of my way once in a while to obtain a coveted cup of flavoured coffee. It’s ok though – I wasn’t in a permanent coffee shop relationship at that point.

And the job itself is demanding, of course, as most worthwhile things are, but at night, I can go home and think about tomorrow’s writing. And my current boss understands and supports my writing, which is a heck of a blessing. That of course doesn’t mean she wouldn’t kick my ass if I didn’t get my work done, but it means she understands that, in the morning, when she walks by the Second Cup on her way to work and sees me typing away on my laptop, she knows not to walk in and inquire about work. Though she may be tempted.

As she says: “You get kind of weird when you don’t do your writing thing in the morning.”

So it was like coming home. I learned an invaluable lesson I’d read about in all the books yet never listened to (I am a rebel): you need a job that will support your writing.

It’s true. I have a job in an organization that supports, understands and even encourages my writing, so I’m lucky.

Damn lucky.