Writing the other day about work also caused me to reflect on my other “career”: writing stories (which is in no way a career). I’ve been doing this “properly” for several years now, which means nothing more than there’s a routine attached to it: I get up early almost every day and write for at least 30 minutes before I get ready for work. Before I wrote “properly” I would sit down on occasional evenings, when the mood took me, and attempt to write. It was not a hugely successful model.
To date I’ve had four stories published and have earned perhaps as much as one, or even two dollars (update: I received a royalty payment of $30 via Paypal about a week after writing this post!). Clearly this is not a career, but it is a passion. It is what I would be spending my life doing if I were able to choose.
That said, over the last few years writing has become something more than a passion. It’s a necessity. It’s become an essential part of how I start a new day, and has become one of my tools for processing the days that have already come and gone. When I don’t write I get angsty; when I do write I feel like I’m continuing to move forward.
My stories usually sit in the horror genre, but sometimes swing over to science fiction. From time to time I will write something oddball and unclassifiable. When I first start writing, I worried whether I would get enough ideas, whether I would have to hunt for inspiration. That didn’t end up being a problem: I have always had more ideas in my thought hopper (and thanks to the person who shared that phrase with me) than I’ve been able to write. Earlier this year, when all the shit was coming down, I stopped writing for a couple of months. I continued to get up and write stuff, and carry on with the morning routine, but I wasn’t writing fiction. For a few months I didn’t get a single new idea for any stories. I began to wonder if that was it. If the stories had simply stopped. If that was my PTSD symptom. Then I started writing again and the ideas started coming back. Once again, more ideas than I have time to write.
I have lots of good things in my life, but writing is literally the reason I get up in the mornings. It means I can start the day by creating something (even though those efforts can be frustrating at times). It means I can start the day with my head somewhere else, and not focusing on what I’m going to wear to work, or how long it’s going to take the Kinderbesten to get ready for school. And it means I get to start the day doing one of my favourite things: making shit up.