Sunday, July 25, 2010

Another State of the Nation post

It's my birthday today. Last night, in between drinking boatloads of Death in the Afternoon*, I told my friends about a plan I made ten years ago. I planned to save enough money to pay myself a year's salary for a writing sabbatical. I figured that at my rate of savings I'd have enough by the time I was 35.

Here I am, 35, and that money is actually in the bank. It's not a year's salary at my current pay grade, but it would be enough to feed me and cover the vet bills.

And I've discovered that in fact I'm not going to take the sabbatical.

Why not? The pieces are in place. I've started selling stuff, I have a finished novel manuscript to shop, and I'm partway through another, with a publisher already expressing interest in that one. This would be a perfect time to break.

Why not?

Because my job wouldn't be there when I got back; and I've discovered I love it, and I'm conservative about giving away things I love. I think that's the only reason, though.

I'm a lucky, lucky person. This is the kind of choice many writers don't ever get to make. And I'm celebrating my luck today by... you guessed it.... writing. And listening to Kate Bush.


*Hemingway's concoction: absinthe and champagne. Yeah, it was a party.

4 comments:

CKL said...

Happy Belated Birthday! I'm very glad that you were able to make the choice, without undue pressure to go either way.

And take it from me, writing sabbaticals are overrated. :)

clairification said...

I don't recall the story of your sabbatical, if I ever knew it... feel free to expound!

And I suppose that like not having children, it's a choice you make over and over again, every day...

CKL said...

Well, I'm still in the middle of my writing sabbatical... I quit my software engineering job in 2008, with no regrets, but I also have no illusions about becoming a best-selling author any time soon.

It's really like Chris Baty (the NaNoWriMo guy) says in No Plot? No Problem!: when you have a lot of free time, it's easy to be lazy and not get anything done--path of least resistance and all that. When you're already busy doing a hundred different things, adding thing #101 is not a huge burden; and you're already energized to finish things in general. (Note to self: write longer blog post about costs of "context switching" vs. "activation energy." Also, mixing metaphors.)

In the end, it's what Scalzi told us at VP: Don't quit your day job. Especially if you love your day job! Love is more than just a reason to stay; it's the reason to do anything. You'll remember the love long after the money is gone.

clairification said...

Agreed, 100%. My mum says "If you want something done, ask the busy person".

I find after ten or twelve hours at the office, I crave my own world like water... but give me a week off, and I manage to...um...drink a lot of coffee for a few days before the writing-drive really kicks in. I think it's a Puritanical work-ethic thing for me; if something is greatly enjoyable, it can't be work, and so I don't apply myself to it with the same force.

And I always was an all-nighter in uni. Still am, even when the deadline is only self-imposed; finished the recent book draft in a horrific long-weekend coffee binge which made my stomach hurt for days. (Worth it, of course!)