Piecing It Together

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Four years ago I was sitting in my therapist's office (yes, I had a therapist, just as every sane person should), bawling about my fate as a barely employed American. Since graduating with my MFA in May, I'd been sending out resumes daily, hoping to find full-time work in something practical.

What I wanted was a salary, benefits, and a structured schedule. What I'd managed instead was three separate full-time jobs. I taught English and public speaking at a local culinary school from 6-8 every morning. From there, I went to the one-woman run Asian chamber of commerce where I was paid $12.50 and hour to create the newsletter, organize field trips, and fill in for absent ESL teachers. I left there at four and went directly to UT to tutor volleyball players. On the morning of that fateful visit, I'd done the math and realized that if I kept this up for another year, I'd earn a salary of $25,000 a year (before taxes, of course) for working five 12-hour days a week. That was not what I got my Master's degree for.

Four years later and I'm salaried. I've got a 9 to 5 schedule, a cube with my name on it, and probably just about as much job security a one can have working in the high tech industry. So what's causing me to want to chuck it all and strike out again, doing odd writing jobs or picking up a class here and there?

My therapist would have every right to think that I am crazy. Lately I've been thinking of that pre-salaried life and maybe romanticizing it a little. It's not that I don't like my job, it's just that it doesn't leave me any energy for what I really want to do: write.

When I graduated, I had the vague notion that writing was something I'd eventually come back to. I could put it on hold for a few years, build up a little nest egg, come back to it when the time was right. But writing doesn't work that way. Putting it on hold has only served to weaken my skill and strengthen the desire. I'm tired of trying to fit my writing around something to which was never going to be anything more than a day job. I think it's time to piece together a day job around writing.