“While one is learning one’s craft, then practicing it and hunting for an agent, then waiting for mail with the agent’s return address, one must somehow make a living. Every writer hopes, like a medieval Christian, that after his period of honorable suffering, bliss will follow as a reward. So the writer takes some miserable part-time job, or lives off his parents or spouse, and writes and prays and waits. One day, the writer tells himself, the big break will come, and his money troubles will be over.”
- - On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner
This is the lavender that’s grown on the island. We distill the oil and handcraft everything on San Juan.
I have not written in eight weeks. This is a crime! A shame! When I counted back the weeks on my calendar I was horrified. I’m a writer. I write! I was knocking out 20 pages on good days.
This eight week lapse correlated with a specific event – the start of a new job.
I swore I’d never return to retail customer service after growing up in my family’s Alaskan souvenir business… until I found myself laid off and in need of another position pronto.
The timing of the local lavender farm/shop’s ad was serendipitous, not to mention I was already a fan of the home, body and culinary line all grown organically and handcrafted on the island.
Working in the store turned out to be fun. I’ve met countless friendly (and well-behaved) visitors and made add-on sales – the most satisfying kind.
And on the subject of work, I've had to fill in for a flighty co-worker this Labor Day weekend.
Off I go!
Off I go!
Maybe it’s my age (34 this month) that’s given me the confidence to approach and converse with strangers that I was lacking in my 20s. One fact remains, however. I’m an introvert and dealing with people all day sucks the life force out of me.
I remember my first writing professor, Richard Chiappone, Water of an Undetermined Depth, express the importance of the dull day job in not hampering the creative spirit. I left my job as an editorial assistant/reporter at The Anchorage Daily News when I realized I was starting to lose my joy of writing.
Being a journalist and writing fiction conflicted for me personally. No, I’m no longer using my degree, and it comes up in nearly every interview, but I’ve found somewhat of a happy balance between earning a living and pursuing my dream.
Do I fantasize about writing full time? Every day!
Photo credits: Brandy Mills, 2011.