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Writing and (Primary)Work – Help Wanted

November 22, 2009

Welcome to my blog! I’m Kris Piet, and I’ll be making an honest attempt to update this blog regularly so everyone is kept abreast of writing progress, personal thoughts, and some of my growth as a ‘noob’ to the world of writing as a profession.

A quick shout-out goes to my co-author and friend, S.L. Armstrong. Saundra helped me so much with the process of getting this blog up and running and designed so beautifully. I claim no credit. It’s all her. Thank you!

As a bit of personal but pertinent background, I’ve recently moved back to my hometown after graduating college. I had also attended and graduated a vocational school for massage therapy, and that is the field that I am looking to get into for a primary job. I’ve had a dream of working as a massage therapist for Cirque du Soleil for quite a while, so I really love to do massage work for athletes, acrobats, and circus performers. Luckily, the city that I live in has opportunities for athletics due to it being at high altitude. (In fact, we’ve had a number of professional or Olympic-level athletes do their altitude training here. Excitement!)

Though I won’t go into too much depth with the benefits of massage therapy as a profession, one of them is clear when it comes to wanting to write as well: massage therapists, in general, make good money in a smaller number of hours compared to a basic entry-level job. Granted, it depends on where you live, who you work for, and what sort of cut the company takes (or the basic cost-profit balance that is struck if you work independently), but we tend to get paid well for the physical exertion of the work we do.

It wasn’t until relatively recently that I realised how much I really want to write in addition to pursuing my dream of being an MT (massage therapist) for a company like Cirque. Outside of the essays I had to write in college, I got my start to writing through role-playing and fanfiction with Saundra (S.L. Armstrong). We found that our writing styles meshed nicely and that we were able to feed one another’s inspiration. Since the summer of 2008, we’ve had growing ideas for original works and written out some of them in part.

Now that I am out of school, I’ve been trying to find my way into the workforce as an MT. In this economy, it isn’t terribly easy, but I’ve recently landed a hands-on interview with a local spa that could grant me regular work for 20-25 hours a week. (I know this doesn’t seem like much, but even though it’s technically part-time because of the hours, it’s a pretty full week as a massage therapist goes. That’s four to five 1-hour massages, five days a week. Plus, if I’m doing Lomi Lomi or Thai massage, that’s a fair amount of physical exertion. Built in exercise program. Woot!)

With this opportunity come a few worries along with some hopes. Being a new writer, I’m trying to find a schedule that will balance writing with the rest of my life. The addition of a steady job has its plus and minus columns. On the plus side, I’m hoping that having a set schedule for my work hours will help me manage my writing time well, making me more productive with the hours that I have available to spend on writing. There’s also the obvious benefit of having more money to spend on the various steps involved with getting self-published and promoting the work I’ve been doing with Saundra (as I think it is wonderful, has a market, and could really be lucrative).

On the minus side are my worries. The most prominent of these is that having a job as an MT will leave me so tired at the end of my work hours that I’ll have little motivation to write. While I don’t really think this will happen, it’s a worry that floats around my brain, since I’ve never had a physically strenuous job since I got into writing. I also worry about expectations. Since I’m not writing alone, but with a co-author, I worry that I won’t be able to devote as much time to the craft as she wishes me to. The last thing I want to do is get my co-author annoyed as hell with me because she’s putting in more than I’m able to. I know that it will inherently be uneven, due to us simply having different lives and amounts of time to devote to the work, and that worries me. While she has been wonderfully supportive of me and very understanding of my need for a primary job, I do struggle with that nagging worry that my best won’t be good enough.

In part of my brain, it brings up the question “Is the difference between seeing writing as a career or a hobby really only the difference in the hours you are able to devote to it?” In my head, I view my writing as very important, and I want nothing more than to publish what I write and supplement my income with it. I want to see it out there, being read by people and bringing in a fair amount of money. I don’t expect to be famous, but to have a moderate, devoted following would be a dream come true. But, for all that passion, do those desires alone make it a career? How much action must be taken for the work to qualify as a career rather than a hobby? I don’t want my lack of time to be misinterpreted as a lack of drive.

How do other writers balance their primary income jobs with their writing? How do they stay productive and not burn out? How do you know when you’re devoting too little time to your writing, or when you are devoting so much time to it that the rest of your life is suffering (as opposed to making reasonable sacrifices to get things done)? These sorts of questions have been running through my head as I pursue a primary job. The panel about these subjects at Necronomicon didn’t quite manage to answer them (though, in all fairness, the panel was interrupted by a fire alarm, and we all spent half the time outside in the muggy humidity of Florida).

I know I don’t have many friends out here in the blogosphere and Internet who write, but I’ll put out a general call for any supplemental material you would recommend on this sort of subject. Being so new, I don’t always know where to turn for help, and that embarrassment can sometimes get me down. There’s always the possibility that getting the job will solidify my schedule and writing will work in naturally with it in a way that both me and my co-author find fulfilling (this is truly my hope with the situation), but any help I can get in the way of techniques for balancing writing with a primary job would be truly appreciated.

What I suppose it comes down to is that I’m very excited about the opportunity to get a nice, steady job as a massage therapist, even with my worries. I think it will give me a boost and a sense of stability that I haven’t had since I recently graduated college. It will also give me the money I know I want to invest into my writing (Task #1 = buy a laptop ^_^). My hope is that it gives me a sturdy foundation to build my writing schedule upon and will be a good motivator to make the most of my time online with my co-author.

It’s a journey, and I’m looking forward to the steps along the way. I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot, and that’s also important.


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