I confess I’m reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. I’m a little embarrassed about it, because I suspected it was full of the enthusiastic pablum that such self-helpy books often are and that, frankly, sometimes I need. And in fact it is full of that, and it appears that at the moment I don’t really need it. (I enjoyed her Ted talk on creativity. This book is that talk pumped up by 100 pages into which large subtitles were inserted and plenty of white space, making it 250 pages.)(I know I sound snarky.)(I actually thoroughly enjoyed Eat Pray Love.) But what did impress me is her story of her own commitment to writing, a commitment she made to the writing as a teenager. She vowed to always write and to always protect her writing. To that end, she held non-writingy jobs or jobs that didn’t impinge on the creative energy she needed for her novels, but always wrote at least a half hour a day. This idea of protecting her writing gave me pause.
I realized that for all its soul-sucking, one reason I have kept my job is that it does protect my writing and other creative endeavors. It makes me feel safe. It also proscribes my time so I’m not staring at hours of unscheduled time during which I “ought” to be doing something useful. Safety and schedule are great protectors. I would hate to quit my job and then sit around staring at my creativity, asking it why it’s not being more useful or making a buck. On the other hand, how much soul do I have to be sucked out of me? And what happens if it dwindles? Can the soul be sucked out if I refuse to let it go? Can I just compartmentalize the job as a useful sidebar to life? It’s really about taking the ego out of the whole equation. Ugh. Stupid ego. Always stomping around in a huff. Or is there another way? Is it possible to have a fulfilling job that also protects my writing? I dare not dream.