A few weeks ago I had a VERY NICE conversation with a banker who was very good at MINDING HIS OWN BUSINESS. It went along the lines of:
Banker: You’re graduating soon? That’s awesome. What are you majoring in?
Me: English literature and history
Banker: Oh, so you’re going to be a teacher?
Banker: Then what are you going to do with an English and History degree?
Me: I studied English and History to become a better writer
Banker: That’s not very practical. You’re paying thousands of dollars for post-secondary education. I studied economics (?) because I knew it would get me a job.
Me: WELL…becoming a novelist is my dream…and I’ll do whatever I can to invest into this dream.
Banker: That’s really not practical…What are you going to do financially? I don’t think you’ll make a lot of money through writing.
Me: I KNOW. I’ll figure something out…
And the conversation went on for a while longer until I ran out of patience and began answering in monosyllables.
ANYWAY, I confess that I’m a little stressed over this issue of finance, because while I CAN continue to live off my parents for a while longer, as an adult and as a loving daughter I’d MUCH rather be financially independent. Plus, as a daughter living abroad, I’m a bit costly.
Currently, I’m working part-time at the Public Library and I’ll probably work a second part-time job (until I accumulate enough seniority to land a full-time position at the library). I’m hoping that within this year I’ll be making enough to at least pay off my monthly student loans. URGGHHH…student loans….
But enough about my finance. This is a blog about writing.
SCHOOL was (for me) the BEST SCAPEGOAT for not writing. Because I was in university, I could say, “Oh, I’m a writer, but I didn’t write this week – or last week – or the week before that because I was drowning in assignments,” and everyone sympathised.
After graduating, however, if I don’t write and constantly go on long, long writing breaks, I’ll have nothing else to blame but myself. I must face the reality that IF I DO NOT WRITE, I AM NOT A WRITER, until I pick up the pen again. ‘Tis a harsh reality, but ’tis the truth. Graduating is, therefore, both liberating and terrifying.
But, oh god, it is so much more LIBERATING than terrifying!
After TWENTY years, this will be my first year totally free from the school system. It’ll be a crucial year for me to figure out how to balance my writing and my life. My nightmare is that I’ll spend my time after graduating as if I were on a LONGGGGGG SUMMER BREAK from school. Why would this be a nightmare? Due to the all-consuming nature of school, during summer breaks, I’ve grown into the habit of BINGE WRITING as in, I write as if the END OF MY LIFE were round the corner. I’ll spend (almost) ALL the hours writing, writing, writing, blogging, writing, networking, and writing, knowing that once I go back to school I’ll hardly have time to write again.
BUT now I need to pace myself. My goal for this year is to discipline myself to:
- Take breaks from writing to cook DECENT meals – following cook books and making tasty meals, rather than living by my university-life motto: “Eat anything! I just need to be full.”
- Eat my meals at the correct time of the day – rather than eating breakfast at 1pm, lunch at 5pm and dinner at 12am – or eating lunch late and eating cereal for dinner.
- Take breaks from writing to exercise
- Take the weekends off to socialise
- READ more books (especially as I no longer have school readings to expand my knowledge)
- Go downtown bi-weekly to my campus library so that I can spend a few hours researching and taking notes for my novel.
- Write at least a chapter a week (I do write a lot, but a lot gets deleted)
At the end of this year, I’ll return to this list and see whether I’ve achieved these goals. And hopefully, by the year’s end, I’ll have hammered into my mind that writing is a LIFETIME journey. If I don’t get published this year, there’s always next year, and the year after that. There is no BIOLOGICAL CLOCK to writing. The apocalypse is not coming any time soon.
While it would be AWESOME to publish within the next few years, it’s also OK to take time with writing. As my father once told me – with the passing of time, writing, like wine, develops more depth and layers.
These days I’ve been obsessed with the THE GREAT GATSBY soundtrack while writing: