Am I propelled by fear or driven by love?
As we stumble into the sunlight in the wake of our global time out, hoping upon hope that the worst is behind us, some of us wonder if the road we chose pre-pandemic is still the right one. The work terrain has changed. We have a lot more options than we used to.
I know I’ve been turning my own roadmap upside down and sideways trying to determine where the hell I’m going.
Taking the Fear Highway
I’ve explored more than one career path since starting my working life as a teenager selling papasan chairs at the mall. Since then, I’ve made a lot of decisions based on fear. After college I took my share of unfulfilling jobs just to pay the bills. As long as they wanted me and I felt I could do the job, I took it. And then I’d be restless, irritable and discontent about eight months in. After another couple years of faking fulfillment, I’d finally snap out of my stupor, update my resume and move on.
Recently I began heading down that nauseatingly twisted road again. Is writing what I’m supposed to be doing with my life? What if I’m supposed to do something else that brings in more income to add to the household income? I certainly could. I’ve accrued enough years of experience to earn some marketable skills. And while my husband and I can afford to live on his paycheck, a good chunk of me feels guilty about not having a steady salary that adds to the household income—especially on those days when the words don’t make it onto the page. So, while I could find a big-girl job with a big-girl paycheck, isn’t doing so out of guilt ultimately as unproductive as taking one out of fear?
Just asking these questions screams privilege. I know. It’s ringing in my ears, too.
Exploring More Loving Backroads
What I do want, and am grateful to be able to do right now, is to make a difference using the abilities I’ve been given. Storytelling is what I know. It’s offered ample career opportunities and generated income.
I want to write this story not only out of love for the process, but out of love for the reader, too.
At this stage of my life, I want my work to mean something more than a paycheck. As I write this post, the novel I’m working on is the vehicle driving me to that destination. So my job as its author must be about more than getting the reader to keep turning pages. I want to write this story not only out of love for the process, but out of love for the reader, too. I want to inspire as well as entertain.
I know. I hear the pretention, too. But don’t we all want our work to mean more than the money, if we can?
Using inspiring messages to drive plot came easily before I challenged myself to try writing for adults. My published books up until now are for children [LINK]. For better or worse, my simpler story structures produced character arcs that look more like the top of a paper clip than a footbridge.
In simplest terms, the novel I’m working on is about an ambitious young woman who survives a gruesome attack in the late 1960s. Intriguing? (I’d read it, I’m hoping you will, too.)
But on self-defeating days when I just can’t bring myself to switch from perusing job posts and reading articles about online marketing to the document where my novel lives, I’ve found myself asking why I’m even writing it. To prove to myself that I can? Yeah. To entertain? Why else would I write fiction? To get published? I certainly hope so.
But will my book make the world a better place? Hmm…
Obviously, isolation has given me the opportunity to look out at the available terrain. And after some serious journaling and consultation with a power greater than me and my limited visibility, I’ve decided that it’s not so much a question of what I’m doing with my life. It’s why and how I’m doing it, no matter where I’m investing my time and energy. And whether a full-time job comes my way or not, I’m going to finish my damn book.
I believe looking at my map from this new perspective will keep me on the right road, no matter where it takes me. I’m certainly enjoying the scenery.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE…
I’m currently working on a novel. (I know, isn’t every blogger?) Here’s a little bit about it: