Monday, October 24, 2011

The Shame of Self Employment

When I tell people I'm a writer, at first they're excited, they're interested in this 'talent' I have for applying plot to paper and multiplying that talent page after page. But eventually, when it's clear I am not on the New York Bestseller's list, the question comes. What do I do, for a living? The answer is complicated.

Then there's the people who already know me, know my books, my most recent internal deadline and the triumphs and challenges I have endured along the way. From them I get jokes. They sneer when I talk about being happy it's Friday or moan that I have to get back to the grind on Monday. They go on about how lucky I am and kid me about all the sleeping in and soap operas I must be enjoying. Because I work from home, wink, wink.

So here's my take.

I am very lucky. I love what I do, but I chose it, it didn't choose me. And though not everyone may be able to write. Anyone can work from home. So if it's such a party, why aren't all my clever friends joining me? I'll tell you why. Because my job is harder than theirs, with little money and plenty of fear. I bet on me everyday. No one signs my paycheck, yet. The only one over my shoulder is me. I don't know what I'll make next month and it's scary. But I do it. Sometimes I'm a starving artist, but I am always doing what I love, what I've dreamt of and I'm proud of that.

When there isn't school, I can sleep in. But I may write until two in the morning, when there is school the next day. Sometimes Saturdays are nothing special, but I do keep a schedule and weekends, I'm typically 'off'. Having a child in school helps.

The truth is, I don't mind so much, not being taken seriously. It's a lot like the people who overlook stay-at-home moms, when really, that's the hardest job there is. So I do both. I am the bread and the butter and the other stuff.

The truth is, every best selling author was me once upon a time. The next Harry Potter may be in my laptop, but I'm judged, because I haven't been on any magazine covers, because I don't live in New York and I haven't been discovered. But I have been. I discovered me a long time ago. I know a lot of nine-to-fivers with 401ks that can't say that. ;)

Most of my fellow bloggers and maybe most of our readers, know these feelings. So maybe this is a high five, good for us, from me. But for everyone else...when someone tells you they work at home and you envy the morning coffee and afternoon talk shows and the laundry that never seems to pile up...just take a moment and consider ALL of the ways that their lives are different than yours.

I'm chasing a dream. What have you chased today?


  1. I'm very lucky that I am a homeschooling mom and able to write and blog during the day too. thankful for this opportunity! :O)

  2. If hubby didn't have a job, I'm not sure I'd ever know what day it was! Nicely written, Cherilyn.