Why A Writing Career Is Like Vermont

Jane/Susannah/Sadie here, wishing you all cool breezes and pumpkin spice dreams …(Yeah, it’s HOT in New England!

Hey, Wicked People! Has it really been another month already? It’s nice to be back.

This picture has nothing to do with the blog post. I just like pink zinnias so I thought I’d share.

Did you go on vacation this summer? Yeah, I didn’t, at least not a full week or *gaspistherereallysuchathing* two weeks anywhere. My husband is self-employed and his business is tied to the real estate market, so his busiest season is during the summer. And I have limited vacation time at, as our friend Dru Ann Love would say, the daytime situation. However, we did take a few days here and there, most recently at a lovely little lakeside cabin in the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont. For any non-New Englanders, that means La Boondocks.

Pay no attention to the lady at the bar…

We came across a pretty magical place when we went to town for supplies. Harry’s Hardware is located in a nineteenth-century store in Cabot, Vermont (yes, the home of Cabot cheese). When you walk in, you know you’re somewhere special. Sure, it’s a hardware/sporting goods/feed store. But in the back is a full-service diner. In the front is a bar, serving craft beers and hard ciders. Behind the bar, there is a tap and you can pour your own maple syrup into a mason jar–no lie. And on the weekends, they clear out some tables and have live music and dancing. If there was also a bookstore section, I’d know exactly where I want to barricade myself in when the Zombie Apocalypse comes.

So what does this have to do with writing? Well, Cabot is a town with 1,440 people. In order to stay viable, businesses in such tiny places quite often have to do double, or, in the case of Harry’s, exponential  duty. And a writing career can be like that, depending on what you need or want from it.  It can take a very long time, if ever, for a writer to make a living wage from her books, which is why most of us still have those pesky daytime situations. So sometimes we have to get creative (a thing we’re really good at, right?) in order to do the thing we love and still put food on the table and ink in the printer and books on the Kindle.

I’ve come to accept that, for me, the peace of mind I get from having a steady paycheck and health insurance for my family is worth compartmentalizing my dream of being a full-time writer. Granted, my day job is in the book business–which is not as glamorous as it seems but is still a pretty sweet deal. I also do occasional freelance editing, coaching, and a few paid speaking gigs–oh, and I still write too, though my output is not as great as it used to be, for obvious reasons. The point is, it’s okay to do more than one thing, as long as you don’t lose sight of the original goal–and sometimes doing more than one thing, cobbling together a career, is the only way to get yourself there.

Not only that, the more experiences you have, the more people you interact with, the more places you go, the more creative you become.

Are you a multitasker? What does your finish line look like? Is there only one way–or a combination of ways–to get there?

15 Thoughts

  1. I’m definitely a multi-tasker. But as you said, the daytime situation allows me to pay the bills. In the last year I switched to working full-time from home, so I’ve been able to restructure my day to give me more than an hour to write.

  2. I definitely want to visit that store!

    And the more you cobble together, the more you get to experience and turn into books, right?

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