“Today, I am essentially “sponsored” by this very loving man who shows up at the end of the day, asks me how the writing went, pours me a glass of wine, then takes me out to eat. He accompanies me when I travel 500 miles to do a 75-minute reading, manages my finances, and never complains that my dark, heady little books have resulted in low advances and rather modest sales. I completed my third novel in eight months flat. I started the book while on a lovely vacation. Then I wrote happily and relatively quickly because I had the time and the funding, as well as help from my husband, my agent and a very talented editor friend. Without all those advantages, I might be on page 52.” – Ann Bauer, “Sponsored” by my husband: Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes
This article struck a chord with me (and the comment section is an equally important part of the essay). Let me be upfront, I have been working in some capacity since that age of 13. Babysitting, then food service, then a paid internship type thing and after graduating college, a series of various full time positions leading me to today – a secure job in higher education. Some frustrating elements of my 9-5 job notwithstanding, I’ve recently been daydreaming about saying fuck it to the job (effective Jan 1 2016). By the end of 2015, I will have 4 unpublished manuscripts (with ideas to write at least three more). The reason I’m even considering this option is because my husband has worked very hard in his career and we’ve been at a place for awhile where my income is extra. I realize I am very fortunate to be in this situation.
Here are the reasons I’m on the fence:
1. Lack of self confidence. Honestly, it’s the height of entitled narcissism to say ‘I’m going to stay at home and work on my novellllllllllllllllllllll.’ Also, it’s a big risk to quit the real world and believe that your books are going to generate enough income to justify staying home (no matter how much you like playing with your imaginary friends).
2. I’m actually good at my day job. Yes, my parents raised me with a great work ethic. Yes, I happen to excel at things when I put effort into them. Yes, I’m pushing for a promotion in my department (which I am well overdue). Yes, I enjoy interacting with people and being part of something larger. If I could find some sort of part time scenario with my current employer, I think that would be the perfect solution, however, the argument and reality of this is another thing entirely.
3. The rational side of me reminding me that the extra income is a really good thing. As a DINK and (probably) spoiled ex-pat, I’ve come to enjoy a certain lifestyle. My income makes that possible. Without it…I’d be giving up a number of these things.
4. Feminism. Choosing to stay home and not be an active contributing member of the workforce so that your husband can pay the bills leaves me with a bad taste. Were I at the point where I was selling enough books to match my current salary, I think it would be a lot easier to get over this one.
And on the other side of the column, the reasons I 100% want to get out:
1. I feel most fulfilled when working on my stuff. Call me selfish, but it’s true.
2. What if I actually succeed? What if a full time job is holding me back from my full potential?
3. More time to travel, research and write. If I’m capable of producing a book a year and working full time, what might I finish if I did not have these constraints?
4. Leaving office politics behind FOREVER.
What say you, dear reader? Do you have a long term goal of being a full time writer? What does that look like for you?