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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group - November

Over the twenty-plus years I worked in HR for a national retail chain, I never knew what I wanted to do when I grew up.  Over the course of that career, I performed as a high-functioning “square peg in a round hole.” Since the job paid well and the location and challenge level enabled me to be an available mom for our growing daughter, I stuck to it.  When the business began to struggle and layoffs occurred, I thought, “If I go, I don’t know what I’ll do next, but I won’t do this.”   Of course, I said those things thinking: “It will never happen to me.” 

Until it did. 
Most Middle Passages readers know that the day after my job disappeared, words welled up inside me, and a blog was born.  Two months later, I’d scored a personal essay relating to my layoff in the Boston Globe Magazine.  I’d been published in a niche magazine a few times prior, and won a monthly writing contest on WritersDigest.com.  But an essay in The Globe fulfilled a long-held dream, and for the first time in my life, I thought, “Good gosh, maybe I really am a writer.”

Working with my outplacement coordinator, I sculpted a freelance writing business, then took a part-time job to help tide over the uneven nature of the freelance beast, and continued my own writing.  Through the encouragement of The Artist’s Way, I challenged myself to write a book.  I “finished” that one, if you call getting the story down on paper and muscling through one revision “finished.”  A print out sits in a folder on my desk in my living room under a pile of books.  Last winter, I started writing another one and currently hover at about 50,000 words and change.

Here is my insecurity. I’m starting a new part-time job on Monday, which is a marginal economic improvement over my current situation. Until the layoff, I was a significant contributor financially to the bottom line.  For the last 2.5 years though, I’ve been a drag on our resources and yet for the first time ever, I’m doing what I know I want to do.   I’ve earned a few more publishing credits.  The writing friends I’ve made on line and in person support and challenge me and my husband stands beside me.  But guilt wheedles its way in and tweaks down deep.  Our daughter has just started college.  My lack of earnings impacts not only our present circumstances, but our future retirement, yet, when I contemplate going back full-time to the business world, nausea ensues.  

What if my focus on writing is nothing more than a big excuse to avoid doing what I should be doing?  Sometimes I’m afraid the word after my name shouldn’t be writer.  It should be fraud.


Old Kitty said...

Oh no!! You sound so harsh with yourself! I'm so sorry you feel this way! Please please don't. You are mother, wife, writer - you are loved and supported as you love and support - truly - those who matter.

Take care

Jan Morrison said...

Yep. I have that feeling. I wrote about the insecure dough thing myself today. I love your writing and your photography and please just keep doing what you're doing! You are a beautiful writer which I know I've said here before. And working some isn't going to stop you. I know it.

glnroz said...

fraud? nonononononononono,,,I do understand what you are saying but you are definitely a writer! Kids in school are a consideration, with three girls, I have felt this. There is absolutely nnothing wrong with you considering your "grin factor" for yourself.

Anne Gallagher said...

So because of your "guilt" (which I do share) you would rather go back to corporate America and become just another Jones? suffering exhaustion, more guilt, headaches, backaches from wearing heels, and just being beat down from the fact your integrity has been misplaced.

Or would you rather, do what you love, stay marginally afloat, and have the time you need to get your career going again.

They say it takes 3.5 - 5 years to get a small business off the ground. Your magazine/newspaper articles do indeed make you a "real writer", so there is your small business acumen. A novel is hard, but you can do it.

Keep on trucking. And don't look at the down side.

Anne Gallagher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen Walker said...

Hi Liza,
These words really touched my heart because I have felt them as well. I quit my job in 1999 to write full time. I think the feeling like a fraud comes when we say we are a writer and we are not earning money at the craft. OUr society deems being successful as making money. But if you are doing what you love and feel you are meant to do, it is usually the right thing. If your husband is supportive of you doing what you love, that is wonderful. Accept the loving support.

Colette said...

No! Don't let those bad thoughts take over! You are a writer, You know you are. I completely understand where you are coming from, having had a similar experience myself. And yeah, I get that nausea feeling whenever I think about going back. But -- unless you really MUST go back to survive -- ask yourself this: Are you happy? Is your family happy? If now is not the time to do this then when?

WritingNut said...

I completely understand where you are coming from, and NO, you are not a fraud! Don't let those negative thoughts take over. You're doing what you love, and everything you can to get there.. And believe me.. You will :)

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

I can empathize with the conflict between doing what you love and doing what you need to do for your family. As Anne says, it takes time to build your writing income, but self-publishing with a 70% royalty rate does make it possible to earn a living with your writing. Keep at it!

N. R. Williams said...

Oh dear Liza:
Never accept such a lie. How can you be a fraud. You are a multi-talented person with more than one talent who is doing their best in a world that dictates the status qua. Writing is your dream, your inspiration and your reality as long as you put pen to paper regardless of success out in the world. If you must work, so be it, but you will realize your dream in time.

Thanks for the encouraging words to my post today.
N. R. Williams, Fantasy Author

Madeleine said...

Oh bless you, I know exactly how you feel. I felt the same when i gave up my job as a speech & language therapist. I guess you have to say that
1.you did the job and you didn't enjoy it so it is time to move on to something you do enjoy.
2. Writing is inside you and so you are already a writer and hopefully one day a very successful one too.
3. It aint gonna be easy, but at least you aren't sitting about doing nothing. You're having a go and that's what counts.
Good luck.

KH LeMoyne said...

Whoa, heavy questions and considerations. I can empathize. I left a stable income for writing some years ago when my field of telecom turning on its ear and went through massive layoffs. I've considered many times over the years whether I should have preserved. Ultimately, only you and your DH can make this decision, with no small relevance given to the stress whatever that is incurs. Perhaps what might help is to map out a 1yr, 2yr, etc. plan - and see if there is an intersect (salary wise) between now and juggling so you can develop this career - and the alternative of putting everything on hold to pursue financial objectives. It may be that the two aren't so far apart and the angst is somewhat needless. Perhaps a slight re-emphasis to get this career moving more would suffice? Not my call, but I feel for your dilema.

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

This life is only lived once.
If we live comfortably but are completely unfulfilled, do we really give our best to the world?
I truly believe that a person can only offer their best selves and best talent by being true to themselves.
In my experience, being in a miserable job certainly didn't add to the overall good that I could do and didn't make the lives of my family or friends any better.
Not only am I happier for doing what I love, but EVENTUALLY the money has followed. The good will come of this for you, but it will take some patience.
I can understand how it's especially tough to wait this out while your daughter has needs right now. Have you ever asked her how she feels about this? I'd be willing to bet that deep down she may be truly happier when you are happiest as well.
It can be tough to accept that sometimes others have to sacrifice for us. As women, we aren't really comfortable with that, are we? I firmly believe this will work out better for you in the end if you go with your heart. Though I cannot say what that might mean for you, I know there is good coming your way!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If you give up now, you'll always wonder what if?
If your husband supports what you are doing and you're not going into huge debt, keep writing. You might be just one manuscript away from something huge.
Trust me! I know how long something can take!

Ella said...

YOU can't give up; this is where I am. I need to go back to work; hubby wants to get out of the Navy. If I give up on me...I'll never forgive myself...will you?! xo

M Pax said...

Give up the guilt. New careers take time. You could end up contributing substantially again in the near future ... and be happy with what you're doing to boot.

Dafeenah said...

Lizzy (the writer whose cover art I do) basically just did what you're doing. She left a job she hated to become a "full time writer". She has amazing marketing plans for her books and is doing really well. It's rough at times but she is loving it. Sometimes money is not always the most important thing. Even though you may not be contributing now, what you're doing now could have a major impact on your future financially so I say keep plugging at your dream. You're a definite writer.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm right there with you. And college is so expensive. Good luck with your choices.

Tonja said...

You're a writer. Your post was great. You don't have to stop being a writer with a part time job. Keep writing even if you have to work.

The idea of interviewing for jobs makes me sweat. A lot.

Nancy said...

I don't know that I can add anything to the wonderful comments above. Except maybe be careful about the "shoulds" in life and look for the "wants." When we use the word 'should' it is implying that there is some sort of punishing presence out there that determines the best choices for us. All shoulds do is lead to frustration and guilt. Instead, own the issue and what you want to do. If the garage needs to be cleaned and I want to watch a tv show then I have to own that I want the tv show and that may mean that I have a messy garage or I may chose that I want an organized garage so I want to miss the tv show to take the time to clean it. I know it may seem like just words but the words we use with ourselves are powerful. It sounds like you have a strong base to begin from and I hope you keep it up.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

As I live alone (I am a widow) I suppose I can choose if I write or not to write.
Keep writing as I found it helps get the insecurities out in the open.
Good luck.

Charissa Weaks said...

I know how you feel. I have four daughters and currently my husband is the sole provider. Thankfully, that provides for us, but I understand that feeling that you aren't doing anything to better your family's future. I think many of us suffer from that guilt. It's the plague of the writer and it sucks :) Thing is...you aren't a fraud for doing what you love. NO WAY. I'm sure your family would rather see you happy than working at something that isn't your passion and being miserable. Don't feel guilty for being happy. It's okay :) Best of Luck!!!

VR Barkowski said...

So much of our self worth is tied to the bottom-line instead of to our dreams, especially when we're used to bringing in a regular paycheck. If you've always wanted to write, and you're living out that dream, you're the antithesis of a fraud. Fight the guilt and keep writing!

J. A. Bennett said...

Oh wow! This is a tough one. I wish I knew the right thing to say for your situation but I don't. I will this though, I hear in this post form visiting your blog one time, that writing is your passion and that you are meant to be writing whether you work full time or not. I wish you the best!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Ouch! I know I've felt that down about my writing at times too. It is not a waste of time. It is a passion, and it is worthwhile. Keep writing, keep dreaming, work if you have to but don't let your work take away your dreams!

Anonymous said...

Writing is a way to express yourself and share something with the world. No fraud here. Just a way to help enrich your life and hopefully someone else's.

jbchicoine said...

Oh, good heavens, Liza--You are no fraud! I still remember how awed I was when I first read one of your posts...I just assumed you were a seasoned and very likely published author. You are, in fact an author/writer and taking on another paying job doesn't change that! It just means your schedule for writing has changed...:)

Jinnifer richard said...