When I first announced at age thirteen that I was going to pursue a career as a novelist, my financially-minded father’s immediate response was:
“You’ll need a day job.”
Dad was also supportive of me utilizing my creative talents, but I’m sure he was afraid of a potential future where I would be unable to pay my own bills and ended up living in his basement (it’s no wonder my parents live in an RV).
At thirteen I wasn’t entirely receptive the idea of having another job in addition to being a writer, but I trusted my dad’s judgement and kept that in the back of my mind during the intervening years. This helped shape my path; from high school to college to a series of jobs that have given me a wide range of experiences to help fill the pages of many past and future books.
And yes, I still have a (non-writing) day job. I work at a lovely non-profit that helps the local community.
Which isn’t to say I’ve given up on the idea of becoming a full-time novelist, but I understand it's probably going to take a while before I reach that goal. My dad even wrote his own blog post about this kind of thing, which can be found here.
In addition to knowing from early on that I needed a day job, I also quickly realized that as a preteen I simply didn’t have the knowledge of life or the mechanics of writing necessary to craft a compelling narrative. Again, this wasn’t something I particularly wanted to figure out, but with this in mind, I started studying literature from both an emotional and technical perspective, and practiced extensively.
This also shaped my choices when it came to jobs. In addition to my current non-profit work, I’ve been in food service, spent ten hours a day for an entire summer as a home health aid, worked as college writing tutor while also assisting in the infant room of a church nursery, and then went to Taiwan for two years where I taught kindergarten and various buxiban classes.
This variety of experiences have coalesced and I’m now confident that my writing is worth sharing with the world. Think of my jobs as a kind of montage scene from a movie, only instead of getting ready for a superpowered fight, I’m preparing to sit with a cat in my lap and make weird faces at my laptop.
What a dream!
This years-long degree of patience can also be partially attributed to infographic charts like this one, detailing when well-known authors first published their most famous works:
For reference, I’m currently 31. If you look through the rest of the list, I’m right on track. So I keep writing and reading and working my day job in anticipation of the day I’ll achieve my dream of becoming a full-time novelist.