The Life of a Writer With a Full Time Job

Written by Eric Vance Walton | October 25, 2013

I fell madly in love with writing the day that I found I could move people with my words. In my younger days I was extremely quiet and shy and writing became an important emotional outlet. As early as I can remember there has been this aching inside of me, to tell a story. As the years have progressed this deep desire to tell a story has become a lifelong obsession to polish and perfect my craft. For almost two decades I’ve have been juggling a full time job while writing books, poetry and freelance articles. Although my goal has always been write full time, it’s taken me much longer than I had ever expected.

I made the decision in my mid-twenties that I didn’t want to make my living writing what someone else tells me to for eight hours a day, five days a week. My fear was I would lose my passion for this thing of beauty that I love so much. So I found a job that wasn’t connected in any way with writing and I continued to write on my own time. Throughout the next twelve years I published a few children’s books and collections of poetry while dabbling in short stories. I also was accepting commissions to do personalized poems. A steady stream of small triumphs including the James Thurber Prize in 2005 for my fable, “The Heiress and the Pea” kept my dream alive. Writing kept me sane, it is what kept me going through all of the ups and downs of life.

This juggling act was manageable until I started serious work on my first novel. I quickly found out that to produce anything of value in the way of long-fiction requires nearly the time commitment of working another full time job and that didn’t leave much time for sleep. I love my sleep so I started taking week long blocks of vacation time to work on the novel. As the weeks came to a close I always found myself feeling frustrated and depressed about having to put this writer’s life back on the shelf again. This brief time away from the reality that was my life was only a tease, just giving me a taste of the ambrosia that had been working so many years to achieve.

This decision I made long ago to exist with a foot in both worlds has provided me with some of my greatest joys and deepest sorrows. I am grateful for the fact that I can afford to eat, all of my bills are paid, my wife and I enjoy at least one vacation per year but there’s no doubt that my existence in each world has suffered. Because I always felt as if my big break in writing was always just around the corner I never focused on pursuing a career path in my day time job. Ironically, I suspect that my writing career hasn’t progressed as quickly as it might have because I didn’t always have the time or energy necessary to devote to it.

After finally publishing that first novel, Alarm Clock Dawn, in April of 2013 and beginning the sequel, Dream No More, there has been a distinct quickening. My day job is now demanding much more of both my time and energy. At age forty-two I’m much more tired than I should be. The time is coming very soon when I will have to finally to choose one world or another. This won’t be a difficult decision but to give up my security blanket of twenty years and take this leap of faith will take great fortitude.

My advice to writers who are contemplating a similar path is to be very honest with yourself about your goals. If you wish to write full time set a clear cut goal of when you want to accomplish this. To enter into this kind of life without a plan is a mistake that is likely to set you up for frustration and sorrow. If you have that aching deep inside of you to tell a story, kindle the fires of that passion and treat this gift with the respect that it deserves. Yes, you will make mistakes but they’re not mistakes if you learn from them. Hone your craft, network with others and never give up. If luck is on your side, one day you will get the great privilege of telling your story and the world will know your name. Behind the story of every great writer is dogged persistence. No matter how many times the world knocks you down, get up…you simply must get up again.

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Eric invites you to follow his unfolding story by “liking” his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects.