Back in the Saddle

Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Over the past three decades I've had many jobs: waitress, bookkeeper, toy saleperson, teacher, typist, writing tutor, blog tour manager. Of course writer was always somewhere in the mix. For the first decade of my son's life that's all he knew. To him I was a mom and I was a writer. Then a job that offered a few things most writers can only dream of--a steady paycheck, regular hours, insurance, contributions to my 401K, an office that didn't double as the kitchen table--came along. Plus, I could get my son on the bus in the morning and be home early enough to make supper for the family before my husband headed to his night shift job. It was perfect.

Except it wasn't. Yes, the job was great but it wasn't writing. Not only that but it had a negative effect on my writing. On my list (my long, long list) of things to do at the end of a work day, my writing continually was pushed to the bottom. I tried but I never seemed to have the time or energy. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that maybe that aspect of my life was over. I had tried to be a writer. I hadn't been able to make a living as a writer. Now I was something else. I believed no one had even noticed that I had stopped writing. Seven words challenged that belief.

"I liked when you were a writer."

My son had noticed. That offhand comment made in passing as he was setting the table one evening forced me stare the facts in the face. I wasn't a writer any longer. Writers write. It also jump started the writer in me. I began writing again. Maybe not as a living, but enough that I can feel that joy again. I've accepted a writing assignment at my "real job" and am working on a curious idea that even if it isn't published makes me happy. And I can say to my son, "I still am a writer."

Did you ever take a break from writing (voluntary or not)? What made you "get back in the saddle" again?

Jodi M. Webb is writer living in Pennsylvania who also is a WOW blog tour manager. You can find her at Building Bookshelves. Today Schuylkill Heroes, a feature about military personnel that she's writing for The Republican-Herald, begins. She's also found inspiration for a new WIP at her non-writing job.


Unknown said...

Jodi: thank you so much for your blog today. I love your articles on WOW so thank you for taking time to share your thoughts!

I actually read the WOW blog religiously but it's on my phone, so I never make comments because I hate typing on my little screen. But today, I was inspired to leave my "two-cents."

I have been "working on a novel" since graduating from high school (I'm now 46). And I tell everyone and anyone who will listen that I am writing a novel. Even when I was also a single mom, a graduate student, a legal secretary, a mental health therapist, a volunteer, a church teacher, etc. etc.

About five years ago, I was at Costco and ran into a woman who was a client of an attorney I had worked for about 15 years prior. The first thing out of her mouth after "hello," was, "Did you ever finish that book you were working on?"

I hemmed and hawed and stammered, answered her question, and did my darnedest to hustle her right out of the sock aisle. Because her comment brought me up short! I hadn't worked on my novel for years, and her simple question made me realize that even though the idea of my novel was still in the back of my mind, I had allowed my "real life" to interfere with that dream. "Oh, I'll get to that when I'm not so busy." "Yeah, I'd love to write that novel, but for now I need to work." And so forth. Excuses, excuses, and more excuses.

With that woman's question and the realization that it had been 15 YEARS since I'd first told her I was writing a novel, I realized that pretty soon, my "real life" would be over, and I would be dead, and that novel would never be anything more than a pipe dream in my head.

So, I put myself back in the saddle and have been working on that novel ever since (while also blending a new family, starting a new career, moving, making new friends, launching children out the door, etc.). The novel has gone through several incarnations, but I am happy to report that the final draft will be submitted to a publisher by the end of this year!

I have come to realize that my "real life" includes being a writer, and until I was willing to commit to it, it would never be anything more than a hobby. Which might be fine for some people, but it was not okay for me.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Jodi & Tacy, I can totally relate. I recently had a reunion with girlfriends I hadn't seen in 15-20 years and "Did you ever finish that novel you were working on?" was one of the questions they all asked. I hadn't touched it in years and pretty much gave up on the idea of writing a novel. Then one of my girlfriends brought out a HUGE cardboard box filled with my writing--letters, notes, stories, drawings that I'd given her since 4th grade--and I realized, I've always been a writer. In that box were stories I wrote for my friends who had crushes on boys and I'd write a 20-page story of their imaginary romance. There were comics I'd drawn and collages I created to illustrate my writing. It brought me to tears. I couldn't believe she saved all that stuff. It also did one thing: motivated me to start writing and drawing again. The next time I see them--and I imagine it will be sooner rather than later since we are now group texting all the time--I will have something I'm proud of to show them. It's weird when you haven't seen friends in a while...they look at you differently than other people, they believe in you probably more than you believe in yourself, and they remind you of who you really are.

Margo Dill said...

I am trying desperately to get back in the saddle. I am so thankful for WOW! keeping me current--able to teach and to blog--while I saddle up my horse. :)

Unknown said...

I could so relate to this post. I have loved writing all my life and tried to get more serious in the early 2000s taking loads of courses, going to retreats. I even got a few short stories published and a children's Christmas play.

Lately I have been letting other things get in the way of that writing dream. I've grown cynical and complacent. Writing is hard work and often I let fear and the inner critic interfere.

My mother died last November at 83. I'm 56. I do find myself still buying books and reading loads of articles on writing. But actually doing the writing is what I need to be doing more. I go at it with spurts of enthusiasm followed by periods of drought where I don't write much of anything. It's not like I have endless time left. One day it will run out as it did for my mom who probably still wanted to do more creative projects since she was a painter and loved art.

The time is now! Thanks for the reminder to get my butt in gear and write.

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