Facing Reality

My biannual membership dues for my weekend writing spot have to be paid by the end of the month. (Yes, I shell out money so I have a place to go to write. Judging by the number of other writers—novelists, aspiring novelists, journalists, screenwriters, playwrights, poets, people just starting out, people whose names you’d recognize—who go to this place, I guess quite a few people in New York City have no room to write in their apartments, either.) Not only do I pay for a membership, I have been paying for full-time membership for years. Even though I have a full-time job. That means I only make use of my full-time membership some Friday afternoons during the summer (publishing companies have summer hours) and on vacation days. My last company gave us the week off between Christmas and New Year’s and I used it then; but my new company doesn’t do that. I’ve also been known to go to this place on holidays. Altogether I don’t want to count up how many days that is because it might make me feel guilty. Plus, the fees went up again.

It was hard to get the full-time membership. I was part-time and on the waiting list for full-time for maybe two years. So when I got it, and I happened to have a full-time job, I figured, hey, it’s only $200 more a year, I should hang on to it. Just. In. Case.

That was probably five years ($1,000!) ago.

I realize I should be thinking of switching back to part-time membership. And, truth be told, if I go down to the lowest rung of membership—nights and weekends only—I could save $400 a year!

I know what you’re all going to tell me. Face the facts. You work. You are a worker. You are not a full-time writer. You should not be pretending you are. Plus in the morning you’ve been going to Starbucks, and Starbucks is free.

I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know.

So why am I so reluctant to give it up?

Because it feels symbolic. If I let go of this, if I say I am no longer a full member, it’s like saying this writing thing is a hobby and other things come first. I realize how stubborn I’m being about this.

Then again, just to keep arguing my point, we’re talking $200 a year. In the scheme of things, what’s $200? What if I take a week off work to do a “writing retreat,” which I have been known to do? I wouldn’t be able to do that if I couldn’t get in to this place on the weekdays. That’s worth $200 to me. Technically, at some point in the not-so-distant future, I may really make use of my 24-hour access. You never know. Plus, I have summer hours now. I get off work around 1:30. I could write every Friday. I might not, but I like knowing I could. Also, I do write this off on my taxes to balance off some of my freelance writing income, so does that mean I can keep it?

Oh, I just need to suck it up. I’ll do it. I’ll downgrade my membership.

I guess it’s time.

7 responses to “Facing Reality”

  1. I totally understand the reasoning that goes on behind this, and am also fighting for a symbol of writerhood. I do think we make such personal statements every day, the symbol is there for us in plenty of other ways—but to treat writing with as much discipline as a full-time job is probably the biggest, most important, most personal statement, because writing is indeed a discipline, it is indeed work, and to know you’ve rented yourself a spot, whether full-time or part-time, in a space outside the comforts and distractions of your home, is to take your discipline seriously.

    No wonder you’ll be so missed at your old job.

    (And I’m so glad of your new job. I’m definitely one who hopes to hear more about it on and off this space.)


  2. If you can find the $200 (not all at once, right?) I think you should keep it. You will certainly be able to write if you downgrade, but it is symbolic and I think a morale-booster for you to have the full-time membership. So that gets my vote. Or would, if we were voting.


  3. Hi, I have been lurking for a while now and it is time I say hello. So, hello. I like reading your blog.

    Also, I agree with Annika – if you can afford it, I think you should keep your full-time membership for its symbolic value. Symbols are important, especially if nobody pays you to be a full-time writer.


  4. Yes, I’m afraid I’m in agreeance too Nova, for a difference of $200 a year you should keep it. I pay $200 + a month for my studio which if I’m totally honest I’m in about 8 hours a week at the moment – not good but there’s no way I would give it up. It’s too important both when I am there AND when I’m not there. Have 8 less take aways a year instead :).



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