How many writers yearn for the ability to quit the “day job” and focus only on writing? Many. But few writers have that option. So, how do you handle sticking with a job out of financial need? How do you avoid feeling discouraged? Author Michele Chynoweth offers encouragement for anyone struggling to make it all work while reaching for the dream. ~ Dawn
Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow. Really?
This saying has always struck me as fascinating and challenging. I have always worked for a living but not doing what I “love” to do – namely, write novels. I have always had to work to help pay the bills and provide for my family (which has now grown from three kids to five with my new husband!)
So how can this statement ring true when I can’t possibly take the leap of faith to test it out? Have you ever wondered?
If you’re like me, writing on the side while your day job pays the bills, hoping to make that leap one day, you’re probably frustrated that you’re not completely fulfilling your calling yet. I don’t need or even want to be rich and famous (anymore!). I’m just talking about the proceeds from book sales being enough to pay the bills. (These days it seems the only way that will happen is to get on the New York Times bestseller list, unfortunately by writing something like Fifty Shades of Grey - not something, of course, that I want to write!)
So what is one to do?
I’ve tried everything – both as an author who was self-published and now as one published by a traditional, albeit small, Christian publishing house. I’ve tried marketing, public relations, conferences, book signings and most recently, speaking engagements. In fact, I recently entered a big speech contest – and most importantly, found myself hearing my own voice, in delivering my speech, encouraging others, in so many words, to “do what you love” and if not money, at least true happiness and fulfillment would follow. Here is an excerpt:
“Think back to when you were ten years old. What did you want to be when you grew up? Are you living your dream today? When I was ten my big dream was to be an author. But eventually my dream faded as life took hold. I graduated from high school, then college, started a career, got married, had three kids, got divorced, lost my job, remarried, acquired two more kids, got a new job…all while putting dinner on the table each night by six o’clock.
Most of my life I’ve listened to other people who told me that following my dream would be irresponsible, selfish. But even though I buried the dream I never really lost it, and several years ago a wave of desire hit and I started to write on the side. My new husband encouraged me to get published, so I did. My first novel is called The Faithful One, a modern-day Bible story based on the Book of Job. I could see myself walking down the red carpet to receive my Oscar for Best Screenplay based on an Adapted Novel!
Needless to say, that hasn’t happened…yet. But what has happened is this: At a book club meeting on my first novel, a man said ‘you know, after reading your book, I’m thinking about going back to church.’ After a similar meeting on my second novel, The Peace Maker, about a woman married to an abusive alcoholic, a young woman took my hand and said, ‘It sounds like you used to be married to the same man I am. Can I call you?’ And at a book signing, when I was grumbling that I had only sold a few copies, a young boy came up to my table and said, ‘Wow, you’re an author! I want to be one too. How did you get started?’
I came to realize that success truly is about more than riches and red carpets and that my dream of becoming a novelist wasn’t so selfish after all. I was helping other people. In his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra writes ‘everyone has a special purpose in life, a unique gift or special talent to give to others, and when we blend that special talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exaltation of the soul, which is the ultimate goal among all goals’.”
If it seems like slow going, take heart – there are obviously a lot of us in the same boat! Meanwhile, I’m saving every dime I can so that one day – hopefully soon – I can quit my day job and write full-time so that the money will follow – so I can continue to fulfill my calling, writing modern-day Bible stories that help people better understand God’s messages in the Old Testament as it relates to them today.
I believe we just need to stay on course, keep sailing toward that distant horizon, and most of all, enjoy the ride!
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