Friday Speak Out!: Now that my Nest is Empty. . . to Become a Tent Maker or Not

Friday, August 28, 2015
by Andy Lee

I asked Google, “What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?” I was hoping to find answers aligned to my frustration, but the articles rated time management as the number one problem for writers.

Time management is often our nemesis. We work from home. Our schedule is ours to manipulate--or not if we have small children. And well, we are artists. Art can’t be forced. Our strength is not in schedules and calendars.

And on days when the sun is shining too much or the clouds are too thick, depending on our mojo, motivation wanes. Our muse goes on vacation. The blinking cursor taunts our weary brains, so we dash to the car when a friend calls for a coffee date.

But I disagree that time management is our worst problem. I mean, I get it, and at times struggle with sitting down to write too, but I think the hardest part of being a writer is the lack of income. After seven years of working on two books and writing blog posts after blog posts, I’ve become a much better writer. I even have a small following, but my checking account is bare.

I didn’t start this writing occupation for the money, in fact, becoming a writer wasn’t on my radar—it just found me. But a small, consistent paycheck would be nice.

I’ve reached a place in my life where I must either make a living as a writer or get another job and write on the side. I’m wondering if I need to be a “tent maker” as the Apostle Paul was in the Bible. He preached and made tents for income.

Will my writing help pay our family’s rising debt with two kids in college? Not at the moment.

My husband cheers my writing. He’s supportive, but he wouldn’t mind if I got a “real” job. My advances for two book contracts were minimal, and once those books are released in the next six months, I won’t see a royalty check for months, maybe years.

So, the hardest thing to me about being a writer is making money doing it. My heart is torn. I feel called to this vocation. I love to write and speak. But the pay is minimal.

It seems you need to be an entrepreneur to thrive in the publishing industry. I'm not. I'm a writer.

As I face the first year as an empty-nester, my stay-at-home mom days gone, I get excited about all of the writing I could do, but I also wonder if I need to do more than write. Yet, I worry if I can promote my books successfully if I’m working another job.

What do you do? Is writing a full-time career or do you “make tents” on the side?

* * *
Andy Lee took a maternity leave from teaching Language Arts twenty-four years ago to raise three children and one husband--a soldier in the US Army. Now that everyone is raised, she's a blogger, Bible study writer, writing mentor for Word Weavers International, and mom to one kitty named Hank. She has authored two books, The Book of Ruth: A 31- day Journey to Hope and Promise (AMG, October 2015) and A Mary Like Me (Leafwood, March 2016). Andy writes about finding purpose beyond today at She and her retired, soldier husband live in Wilmington, NC.

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Sioux Roslawski said...

I know with absolute certainty that I don't have what it takes to be a full-time writer. Besides, I have the best job in the world--I'm a teacher.

Good luck in your decision-making process. I'm sure you'll make a smart choice.

Andy Lee: Speaker, Author, Lover of God said...

Thanks Sioux for your answer. Yes, teaching is an awesome job. I was once one of those too and loved it at the time. I think you just gave the secret. Find another job you love.

Val said...

I will have an empty nest next year, at the same time I retire from teaching. All that time to write...but my material will be away at college.

No money on the horizon for my writing. Like you said, writing found me. I do it because I enjoy it.

Andy Lee: Speaker, Author, Lover of God said...

Hey Val! Thanks for stopping by and sharing where you are in your season of writing! I pray many blessings on your next chapter of empty-nest and retirement to write all you want! Yay! Go girl!

Unknown said...

I actually have a somewhat unique situation. I'm disabled and can't work. So, I write.

I have published six books, and write freelance articles. I don't get paid much for them, not anything that could pay bills certainly, but it's nice having something I can do consistently, and on my own schedule. And I get a little extra money to help with groceries, household items, etc.

And I love having my books published! They make me feel that I have accomplished something great with my life.

Andy Lee: Speaker, Author, Lover of God said...

Andrea! Thanks so much for sharing! Six published books is awesome! What an accomplishment. I'll have to look them up. ;) it's great to know that your writing is helping with the daily needs. I'll be excited when mine does that. :) it takes time takes time and consistency doesn't it? Blessings on your writing. I love your name by the way. :) thanks for commenting.

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