Friday, October 1, 2010

The Day Job

I've always been a dreamer.  Don't we all have dreams?  When I was young, I always knew that I was going to be a famous author and/or musician.  I went to college to learn more about being a composer.  I even got a Master's Degree.  I went years thinking it was going to work out for me, but then something happened.

I graduated.

Something about living with your wife's parents can bring you from dreamer to realist in no time flat.  Yes, I had to get a job - a real job - a day job.  Luckily, I had a BS degree in Math, and I passed a couple of actuarial exams, and that landed me my first day job as an actuarial analyst.

I love my day job.  I get to play with numbers all day.  I get to write some fun emails.  I get paid.  It lets me write fiction on the side (however, not during work hours - some day jobs let you do this, but they don't pay much).

Day jobs provide stability, income, scheduled time for you to work around, excuses to write fiction (what better way to escape your day job than to go off to your own little world?).

Sometimes I get frustrated.  It takes me forever to write a novel.  It takes me a month or two to write a short story.  Sometimes I just wish I had more time to work with.  I want to get all my ideas down on paper.  I want to see people reading my books.  I want to change the world.

The day job is nice.  It pays food on my table.  But will it provide the opportunity to change the world?  Let's see - I'm going to name the most famous actuary alive today.  His name is Sholom Feldblum.  Ever heard of him?  I didn't think so.  You can Google him and find out all you want to know about him - but let's face it - actuaries don't change the world.

Watch "About Schmidt" and you'll see what I mean.  Schmidt is an actuary at the end of his career.  He leaves his life work behind for his successor to use.  When Schmidt goes to visit his work place the very next Monday, he sees his entire life's work in the trash can.  How depressing!  The whole movie, he's just trying to find purpose in his life.  Hey - here's a clip...

We're all like this poor guy.  We want to make a difference in this world.  Yes, our day jobs provide stability and income, but they don't provide a way to change the world.  Schmidt finally finds his answer by going above and beyond the day job.  (Watch the whole movie and see.)  And that's why we aspiring writers write.  We want to change the world - even if we have to stay up till 1:00 in the morning to do it!

My advice to you: if you have a day job, embrace it.  Get the most you can out of it.  Enjoy the stability it provides.  If you don't have a day job, get one and only then worry about making money from writing.  Then keep on writing until it happens - until you make a difference.  Then hopefully, one day, you and I will join the many authors/composers/artists who make a difference in this world.

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