I recently quit my job at Award-Winning Teaching Hospital which has a lot of people asking me things like "so are you a full-time writer now?" And part of me wants to tell them that I've been a full-time writer for years as far as spending 40+ hours a week working--I just wasn't getting paid. But now that I am getting paid, the label of full-time writer freaks me the hell out.
For one because if I call myself a full-time writer and then go back to nursing (which I probably will since I like nursing and am getting a Masters degree in it) I'll feel like a failed full-time writer, and that's no good.
Also, it's not like I'm taking time off from my patients and coworkers--who incidentally are humbling, inspiring, hilarious, fun and have the stamina and emotional strength of Navy SEALs--solely to write. I don't know, guys, It just occurred to me when I was figuring my estimated taxes (self-employment tax is EVIL) that I didn't need a Scrooge McDuck-like vault of golden coins and that maybe instead of juggling two publishers and a job and grad school that I should try to squeeze in a little living while I'm still alive. I have put so many things on hold to make this dream of writing come true--traveling, getting back in shape, shark diving, learning Spanish, taking krav maga, volunteer work, moving to a new city... I don't regret any of it, but if there's one thing working with cancer patients does, it's get your priorities in order. You don't get any Afterlife bonus points if you die having completed all the things you were supposed to do (at least, I don't think so) so you might want to have a little fun along the way.
Finally, I try really hard not to define myself by my occupation. Is it so tempting to do this, especially when things are going your way, but if you wrap your whole identity up in what you do, what happens if for some reason you can't do that anymore? Do you cease to exist? Do you no longer matter? Not everybody gets published and of those who do get published not everybody gets to sell as many books as they want, but everybody matters. And I am a writer because I write, not because I get paid for it. [Side note: If you write, you are a writer, not an aspiring writer.] A writer is someone creative who enjoys stringing words together, and that is cool, but I am a lot of other things that are just as cool, like a girl who climbs mountains and swims at midnight and shares sandwiches with homeless people. And those are things no one can ever take away.
Starting next week (or maybe in 2 weeks) I am going to be posting a series of guest blogs written by bloggers for bloggers--full of tips on how to start a blog and stand out from the masses. If you've ever thought about starting up a blog, you should definitely come back and check it out :)