But I Want to Be a Writer

I went out for drinks to explain myself the other night. To say why I was leaving. To bridge some of the awkwardness that had flooded up between me and the person who was the main reason I stayed put for four years.

I suppose, to some, it might not make sense—leaving this job when I was up for a promotion. It might not make sense that I am losing my authority, my autonomy, to go from running a small corner of the world to being one of many. E used to joke that I was an “underboss.” No more. In all honesty, I have no desire whatsoever to climb any kind of corporate ladder. Yes, it’s true that when I’m working, I work hard. I am seriously dedicated (too dedicated?), to the point where my life has suffered from it, to the point that knowing I’m the one ultimately responsible for something makes me want to be sure it gets done no matter what, and this may be why a certain person wanted me to stay. She said she’s been in denial; she hasn’t even posted the job opening yet. But just because I work hard when I am there doesn’t mean I want the job to be my life. It can’t be my life. I want to be a writer, I told her. There was an understanding, the more we talked, she said she could see why I could give this up, because I have something on the side.

But don’t you see, that’s the whole point! My writing should not be what I do on the side. It was never supposed to be a hobby. My job should be what I do on the side to have the means to keep writing.

Now, that’s all well and good. But with yet another rejection letter today (the news came while writing this post; it was for something I really wanted; I asked E to throw the letter away so I don’t have to set my eyes on it when I get home) I wonder how delusional I’ve become. Still, the intention is there. That gives me a few writer points, no?

9 responses to “But I Want to Be a Writer”

  1. Absolutely it gives you points! Hang in there. You have to do what you love. I never had time to write either when I was in my former career as a convention planner because it sucked all of my energy and time but then when I (long story) took some time off and had time to write, I did, but I didn’t get to publish until I had to (another long story) go back to school and work but now I’m a respiratory therapist. Still a demanding job but when my shift is over I get to leave with no phone calls or “surprise” time to go into work when I didn’t expect to. Now I’ve published several little things and one big thing. Amazingly, I found the same answer you have. I love my job but it’s only a job. It pays the bills. My passion and my vocation are being a writer. No one can take it away from you and you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your choices. Hang in there!


  2. But don’t you see, that’s the whole point! My writing should not be what I do on the side. It was never supposed to be a hobby. My job should be what I do on the side to have the means to keep writing.

    You are a writer! I am totally quoting this.

    It’s hard to feel like a writer when life leaves little time for it. I feel you on that. But I think we are writers all the time, no matter what.


  3. i wasn’t joking about you being an underboss, sottocapo Nova. it’s in your blood after all…
    the new job is going to allow for more writing time and it’s going to be wonderful.
    you are not your job, though you are amazing at it.
    you are by far my favorite writer and very soon great things are going to happen. i’m sure of it.


  4. You’re a writer. You write. I can so relate to this post even though I’m not in paid employment right now. I deliberately stayed in a day job that I knew I had no prospects for promotion in, simply because the schedule allowed me more time to write. (Not that I’m saying you are doing this – your new job sounds great!) My career choice backfired on me when I lost my job for having a baby and got no maternity leave. I had a lot of people looking down on me, believing I had been in a menial position. I still sometimes get upset by it but I have to keep reminding myself: “My writing comes first. I’ve made deliberate choices to keep it that way.” I am so familiar with the “your little hobby” attitude, it’s maddening. I get so frustrated that there is this universal expectation that even the laundry must come first. An ex-boss once said to me (after I left a job because it was interfering with my writing): “You have to understand. This writing thing of yours is just a dream.” I thought: “Every night I’m at the coal face writing. Where’s the ‘dream’ in that?” I’m driven to write some days just to prove her wrong.


  5. …. found this by accident and read the posts. i’m a respiratory therapist in a similar boat. i’m all but per diem now and thinking about jumping! how is it going for you??


  6. I’m a college freshman about to declare a business administration major because it just. makes. sense. But it doesn’t, does it? When all I want in life is to rearrange words to my liking?

    More power to you. I hope someday, as I’m taking business classes and starting business internships and making compromises – that I pick up your book and know someone did it.


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