Out with the Old-Work Jane, In with the New-Work Jane

“I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.” –Hunter S. Thompson

I always pick the worst times to cry. Concerts. Grocery stores. Speeches (given by me and others). If you can imagine it, more than likely I have cried at it. This April, at a sold-out ballpark I, handicapped by tears, grieved the loss of my creative life. I had clocked 10 months in the corporate world.

Waylon tried to catch my eyes, but I ducked, thinking if I couldn’t see him and the throngs of people, they couldn’t see me. As I eye-rained, he said, “If you are that unhappy, you can quit. You can live with me and write all day.” I felt like a modern-day, nerdy Cinderella. Was this my real life? I rested my throbbing head on my scrawny forearm and shook my head, rolling on bone, hushed by the sentiment. A fairy tale offering, but I couldn’t accept his generosity. I have always supported myself, and I was not ready to not do that. For me to quit my job and write full-time, it would take a miracle.

I’m not ready to call losing my job a miracle. To me, a miracle suggests outcomes: I found an agent, my agent sold my book. At the least, a small writerly win. But I haven’t added any accolades to my résumé recently, not even a publication in an online magazine with a circulation of two. Cue more eye-rain. All I have to show is my Sisyphean climb, and the rock rolling back onto me is form rejection after form rejection, seldom an almost-acceptance–a nice note but in the end yet another rejection, a rejection for fellowships or contests that I have to find myself via the aforementioned post or tweet by the designated loose deadline, thinking, Maybe, just maybe, they don’t notify winners beforehand. Maybe, just maybe, they want it to be a surprise!

It’s hard not to clutch the wine bottle during these hiccups, especially when I work continents harder than I did at my eight-to-six, where I spent a Tuesday lunch here and a Thursday lunch there revising three or four pages of my first novel. Most days, too slammed with work and the hope of landing a permanent position or–at the very least–a raise, I ate lunch at my desk, emailing, editing. “You are the only person who actually works on Friday,” said various coworkers on numerous occasions.

Now, I work weekdays plus weeknights and most weekends while Waylon and I watch DVRed TV that I barely follow because currently I live eye-deep in my novel’s world. I fear I am that lover with the far-away look in her eyes. When I asked a question about the clear motives of an unabashedly sexual character last week, Waylon asked, “Are we watching the same show?” My cheeks reddened like sunsets, and I nodded. He said, his toothy smile gleaming, “Am I going to be changing your diapers in three years?”

Although it seems like life has chosen this path for me, I am seizing the writing days because I know how much a writer needs to write. (Respect to those who can write in addition to full-time jobs, the Joan Didions and Gabriel García Márquezes of the world. I don’t have that talent.) Life with sparse reading and writing is painful. It sucks to be pulled from bed out of necessity because 1) either you get up, write then die at work, or 2) lie there, think about writing then die at work.

This time has allowed me to do so much, and I insist upon doing everything that I have ever wanted to do (more on this soon). Working, on average, 47 hours a week for The Man, old-work Jane read when she could. I tucked short stories that I printed off between my driver’s seat and e-brake to read in traffic, I read poems waiting for copies at the Xerox machine, I read in line at the grocery store, I read in bed until my eyes insisted, No more, but I wasn’t reading anywhere near what a writer should read, and it maimed my writing. While I worked 13 months, three weeks and four days at my ex-job, I wrote 3,384 new words. Just this NaNoWriMo, I have read four books, I have added 24,686 new words to my second novel, and I have slept through most nights.