There have been times in the past few years—long before I was actually writing daily—that I would say to myself and sometimes even out loud, “I just need a book advance!” This notion seemed the quick and easy way out of a day job that bored or frustrated me more often than not. The book advance would help me catch up financially too. It was a ridiculous notion given that I was not showing up to do the work that would result in a book advance.
These days I've changed my tune. I still want the book advance, but not as an escape from my real life. The book advance would be proof that I showed up and did the work. I've also had an epiphany about this writing life. I like the back story emerging about me as a writer: I wrote a 212-page rough draft in 30 minute increments before my daughter woke up every morning. I accomplished this goal whilst working a full-time job (where I write all day) and raising a daughter. What I like about this story is that it debunks the myth that writers need vast swaths of open time to accomplish their written works.
The other part of my story that I am only beginning to tell is that I wrote my way through a divorce. It was as peaceable and amicable a process as one could imagine, but nonetheless, it was a stressful time as the dismantling of a family's life was taking place. Astrid and her friends met me every morning and created a place for me to write out my emotions, questions, anxieties. They kept me from chewing my nails and worrying excessively. Times throughout my day where I might have let the unknowns of the process overwhelm me, I was able to fill my time and thoughts with meanderings about what was coming next for my characters. Writing during this difficult time created a healthy outlet and a rhythm to my day that distracted me from the stress that was inherent in the process.
Writing fiction is just the newest way I can see God sidling up to me and saying, “Hey girl, I've got something to help you through this time. Check this out.” Then the miracles lined up: my friends talked about me writing fiction, a frustration at work planted a story idea in my imagination, car trouble inspired Astrid's future career as a mechanic, my friend told me to write only Astrid's story. And ta-da! A work of fiction was born.
My epiphany was to stop daydreaming about full-time writing as my sign that I was a success. I already AM a success. I wrote two-hundred-twelve-pages of fiction that will soon be reshaped and sculpted into a manuscript. And I have other stories waiting to be written. I am remaining open to what the future holds. Maybe there WILL be a day when I write my own words full-time. But my epiphany is focused on my expectations. I am a writer because I write.
I've already got the cake. Everything that follows is icing. Sweet, yummy icing.