It was both an easy and a difficult decision to go back to work. Easy because… well, bills need to be paid and my family doesn’t fancy living in a box under the highway. Difficult because of a lot of reasons.
The first was my pride. It wasn’t easy to admit to myself that I could no longer support myself with writing. I fought that realization for months before finally surrendering to the inevitable. Also, I’ve been out of the workplace for years, and my last job (corrections) isn’t something I wanted to take up again, so I had a serious lack of marketable skills.
Kids, a B.A. in English doesn’t exactly prepare you for many lucrative professions. You’ve been warned.
So I decided to tap into another of my lesser passions. No, not drinking. Or watching football. Or running a D&D campaign. (Although those would all be awesome jobs.) No, I’ve entered the world of professional cooking. Nothing ultra-glam like hosting my own Food Network show. I’m just a line cook, but it’s a nice place and the job doesn’t involve breaking up fights every other day, so that’s something positive.
Not long after starting this new job, I started to remember some of the things I’d missed about working outside of home. For one, it was nice having conversations with other adults. Look, I love my family, but being a stay-at-home dad had shrunk my world down to the perspective of a precocious six-year-old.
I’d forgotten what it was like to be around other adults (besides my wonderful wife) on a regular basis. I even missed the petty crap you have to deal with when you work for someone else. A little. Okay, I didn’t really miss it, but it beats the alternative.
And there are lessons for a writer everywhere at a day job. The internal politics, the personal sniping, the competition, the process of learning a new skill set, the feeling of accomplishment.
And don’t get me started on the interpersonal relationships. As a writer, I can’t help myself from listening to everyone’s conversations, just absorbing their humanity in all its shades. For me, everything that people do — the good, the bad, and the ugly—is grist for the mill. No, my work mates don’t have to worry about me putting them in my stories, but personality traits and mannerisms can sometimes filter through.
So, while I’m not thrilled about the situation that requires me to take up a day job, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work again. I’m trying to make the most of it, even as I watch my available hours for writing dwindle. Hopefully, this is only a bump in the road and not a permanent situation. But I’m slowly re-acclimating. Yesterday I started writing the third book in my Black Earth fantasy series. I’ll find the time to finish it, because a writer writes. Right?
Jon Sprunk is the author of the fantasy epic Blood and Iron as well as the Shadow Saga trilogy (Shadow’s Son, Shadow’s Lure, and Shadow’s Master). For more on his life and writing, check out www.jonsprunk.com and his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/JonSprunkAuthor.