As you'll probably know if you've read previous blog posts, I finally gave up my day job at the start of July to write full-time. It took seven years to get to that point, from the moment I decided to take writing seriously (rather than shilly-shallying around) to the point of earning a living from writing and it was a pretty terrifying leap to make. But I went with it, hoping that it would work out.
Here I am almost two months on, and I thought I'd report back on how it's been. Quite a few people have told me I'm living the dream and it's certainly true that writing full-time was a dream of mine for years - if you only knew how many hours I spent at my day job wishing I was writing (maybe you do - maybe you're doing the same thing right now). So what have I been doing with all that time?
I joked with day job colleagues that I was buying a sunlounger for the long summer days. Apart from that being a little optimistic given the Great British Summer, it turns out it was a pipe dream in terms of time, too. The thing about writing for a living is that it suddenly becomes a job and all those emails and admin jobs I squeezed into spare moments at the day job had to be done in my writing time. I had two books to write in a very short period of time so the plans I'd had of writing during the day and spending time with my family, or reading, in the evenings hasn't happened yet - I am still up until gone midnight working most nights. I've delivered two books, rewritten three and have a fourth edit plus a copyedit awaiting my attention. People joke that writers work all the time and I think that's true - I'm writing this blog post on holiday and that copyedit needs to be delivered tomorrow, so it has to be squeezed in between sightseeing and relaxing. Writing has become a job very quickly for me.
This isn't a complaint - far from it: I still love writing and I hope that never changes. I know I am lucky to be able to do it for a living. But it is a cautionary tale for anyone who dreams of writing full-time - for me, it's hard work and pretty relentless. I still worry about being able to pay the bills and so any time I slack off, I have a little voice nagging at me to get back to it. I'm sure people think writers spend their days wafting about in kaftans (or is that artists?) waiting for inspiration to strike. I've had to pull on a jumper (ah, summer) and go after it with a rope. I've had to sit at my table every single day. I've had to be determined and business-like and professional and disciplined. And I've worked much harder than I ever did in my 9-5 job.
Do I regret giving up my day job? Maybe a little on payday. But I couldn't possibly have done what I've done these last two months if I'd still been working 9-5 too. For me, giving up that job was a necessity. I definitely haven't given up work, though. Quite the opposite.