Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day Job

Over at the Inkpunks Wendy has distilled almost two weeks worth of us talking back and forth about day jobs and creative life into an excellent post, The Job Continuum.

It's timely, because I just turned in notice at my day job.

It’s something I have been thinking about doing for a while now as freelance work started trickling in more and more. But I always held off, valuing the tiny bit of independence the day job afforded me. It is not a well paying job, nor the source of dental, medical insurance, 401K, or otherwise essential for my family to be able to make ends meet. Me not having this job does not spell financial disaster for our family. But it is something and I held to it. (I attach a lot of emotional worth to the dollar value of ‘what I do’.)

It has just become time for something to give.

I was struggling to keep up with illustration deadlines, spending a good amount of time at my day job doing freelance work (it’s a slow job, I am usually able to get away with that), and constantly worried about how I was neglecting my partner and son to keep on top of it all. I’d hoped to wait till my freelance income matched my day job income. I’m not quite there yet. But still, it is time.

There’s this dreamy image of quitting the day job and suddenly having all this free time: I really do not see that happening for me. I have a son with special needs, a partner who puts in long hours in the medical profession, a list of illustrations I need to finish, oh, and we are moving again. It’s like standing on a wire: at any moment, something may happen to bring this all crashing down. A change in our family circumstances (death, divorce, loss of a job) will require me to go back into the workforce (and probably not one I can so easily multitask my freelance hours into). That does hang over my head. This is scary.

But, for right now, leaving my day job is the workable situation for our little family and my budding art career.

Here's snippet from some advice John Scalzi* wrote about writers/artist and money. On the subject of dayjobs, and being supported by a spouse:

"You better be working, and contributing to the household income. For us, that meant using a fair amount of my writing time doing consulting work (not romantic writing but pays well) as well as writing books. It also meant being the at-home parent, which saved us a bundle on day care (which kept our costs down, which counts as “contributing”).

Or to put it another way: Your spouse is giving you a gift by giving you security and flexibility. Make sure you’re making it worth their while, too. And make sure they know you know how much they’re doing for you....

It’s hard enough getting people to like you anyway; finding one who is fiscally responsible and willing to pitch in for you while you develop your writing career is a tall order. What I’m saying is that if such a person comes along, grab them with both hands, make snarly territorial noises at all the other writers hovering nearby, and then try really hard not to screw up the relationship. In addition to being likely to make you happy as a human, this person will also likely be an excellent economic complement as well. It’s nice when that happens."
~read more.

It was good advice, for me. I'm so very grateful for a supportive and understanding partner. This may seem like a no brainer, but it is a good reminder to take care of that relationship. For many many reasons.

Now, taking a deep breath, and a leap.

*Many thanks to John Remy, for the link to this article.


Emily S. said...

Oh wow-- love that quote. Needed that reminder. I'm luckier than I remember sometimes.

Good luck with your leap!

G said...

Emily, right? And there's some complicated feelings, for me, wrapped up in that privilege/luck.

Thank you :)