Thursday, April 8, 2010

If I had a Million Dollars...

The Bare Naked Ladies would only eat fancy dijon ketchup. What would you do?

This blog post is inspired by a conversation that I had with a friend of mine a couple of days ago. He is at a crossroads and trying to decide what to do next. I asked him if he won the lottery and money was no longer as issue, what he would do. Would he go to Grad school, which was one of the options he was considering? No, he didn't think so. Well, what would he do, then? Work in theatre doing lighting, electrical etc. Do it then.

Once he realized where his heart and passion lay, he started thinking about ways to get on with it. He could apprentice. He was already building a good working reputation in the theatre community, and often hung from rafters and scaffolds at various theatres helping to offload and set up sets, and strike them after.  He had contacts in the industry, and the price of a cup of coffee could inform him about other options. Like any profession, networking is half the battle. In an industry like theatre, where a light that isn't hung right or wired correctly becomes a danger, reputation is important and there isn't time to re-do it later. The other professionals in the industry would know about opportunities. What had started out as a discouraging, "I don't know what to do next" conversation ended with a plan of action to pursue a passion.

It's easy to fall into jobs that pay the bills but don't feed your soul or your passion. I know. I've had tons of them and for long periods of time. (And may again if I don't get out of my own way, trust my instincts and start marketing my abilities better. "Do you want fries with that?" is not an option) There's something to be said for a steady paycheque, pension and other benefits. But no paycheque is worth your health, your self esteem or your peace of mind. Trust me. I learned it the hard way, complete with hives, insomnia, waking up screaming "No" because of  nightmares about a Monday conference call and leaving with my self esteem and confidence in my abilities in piles of rubble around my feet.

So what would I do if I won the lottery? Exactly what I'm doing now, except I'd be able to spend less time querying magazine and newspaper articles and finding corporate work and more time working on my YA novel that has one good draft and now needs a good re-write, the other YA novel that I believe in, but let others talk me out of and maybe finally have the courage to let my poetry see the light of day. I'd work on the non-fiction book about the boarding house in Ottawa where my mother lived during World War II, because I'm getting wonderful information from former residents whose stories need to be told while they're still alive to tell it.

I'd, as my friend Jean Mills puts it, joy write. I'd write for the sheer pleasure of getting lost in the characters and letting them tell their story. I'd forget about dishes, bills and the new tires that I know I need for my car, which is why I'm still driving on snows. I'd write to forget about debt, my daughter's future education bills, and the fact that I still don't have a real office. I'd revel in the frustration of having a character refuse to do what is on my plot outline and instead do something that I hadn't thought of, but suddenly makes perfect sense. I'd remember why I returned to my first love-writing. I'd write with no other goal than the sheer joy of writing.

But reality beckons. I have an editing deadline, articles due, a small child to parent and keep busy, dishes and laundry to do and income to generate.

But maybe there's time to sneak in some joy writing first. Joy writing makes job writing worthwhile. I need to remember that. No time like the present.

What would you do?


Lizann Flatt said...

Here's to you sneaking in that joy writing time! I need to do that too. Thanks for the nudge.

Angela West said...

Loved your blog Lisa! I too have no real office. My "office" is a small desk in my kitchen perenially covered in messy papers, asthma inhalers, business cards and jewelry I take off to type. I love "joy write"!!

Janet Jarrell said...

Joy writing is a fabulous way to refer to your passion - what would become of it if it felt like doing the laundry? Oh my.

Heather said...

When you sneak in some joy writing time (and you should) DO let that poetry see the light of day--and send some my way! I'd love to read it.