Monday, October 26, 2009


I decided not to write at all last week. I spent the week travelling for work, celebrating my birthday, entertaining out of town guests, and hanging out with my parents. Some free moments were spent at the gym, catching up on episodes of Top Chef and Brothers and Sisters, and riding the Gears and Grubs ride on a beautiful fall day.

In the back of my head, there was a constant, nagging, anxious feeling. Because time spent doing all of that meant time spent not writing

(I apologize in advance for the whining that is about to ensue...)

This is something I have experienced for the past 8 years. After I graduated college, I decided to take the time to focus on my writing and worked on my MFA at Boston University. This was a time dedicated completely to writing what I wanted, when I wanted. But it always meant that, if I wasn't writing, I really should have been. And this is a feeling that has prevailed since then.

When I completed my MFA, I tucked a lot of work into a drawer. I needed to find a job and I did not know how to find a job writing. I worked in television production and soon found myself working full time at a design and animation house where I worked with a lot of creative people and spent 0% of the time doing anything creative myself. I just 'made sure' of things. Made sure we had shooting locations, a cast, a crew. Made sure we were stocked with tissues, ink cartridges, and pens.

As soon as I started to feel unhappy there, I went back to writing at night and on the weekends (I am not a morning person :-). I wrote short stories and tried to get them published. In that time, I got one writing gig. I wrote a piece for a travel website and got paid $75. It was the first time I had ever been paid to write anything. I was given another 'assignment' and I had no motivation to do it. I made a conscious decision not to write that article and, to this day, I'm not sure why.

Soon after that, I got my current job working at a toy company. The job description had the words 'writer', 'write', and 'writing' in it, and that was my only criteria. Now, I spend 30% of my job writing, and 70% of it 'making sure' of things. At the time, it was a step up.

Exactly one year ago, I decided to write a novel. Turns out, when you have a limited amount of time to write, those hours count more than anything. These are also the hours I need to eat, sleep, exercise, and enjoy myself. But it means that every hour I spend doing those things, is an hour spent not writing. And I think about that every time I partake in another activity. It's a dull ache and it squirms around asking: why aren't you writing?

I don't like that feeling. How can you go through life feeling that way?

But it means I'm at another crossroads. The 30/70 ratio is just not enough. How do you make it so that the day job is 100% about 'making sure' your writing and nothing else? I wish I knew.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Melissa. I am French so please be nice with my level of English... I have just discovered your blog and I love the way you describe your life, you difficulties as an author. I think a perceive a little bit your personality which seems rich - and consequently complicated. I am an "amateur" writer (in French/ do you read French?) making short novels and poetry and I feel a lot of respect for your enterprise to become a professional writer. The only thing of thinking about it freeze my blood... and my ink!
    I have not yet read all your posts, will do in the next future. But what I have read is not only interesting but good writing, I'm sur of that. Courage I'll be back soon for other positive comments!