Some people - some, not all - believe that if a writer has a day job, they shouldn't be allowed to call themselves a writer. They look upon the waitress, the shop assistant, the receptionist with scorn and derision. It is a common belief that if writing doesn't pay the bills, you must not be very good at it and thus it is dismissed as a hobby, something on which to self indulgently fritter away time between real work and real life.
These people - and I have met a fair few of them - tend to know very little about art. They look at creative pursuits with a business brain, filling out their spreadsheets, clicking their tongues and shaking their heads at the sheer futility of it all. If you are one of these people, I would like to point out, with all due respect, that you are missing the point.
These people cannot wrap their heads around the act of creating. They see only ink on paper, paint on canvas, pixels on a screen. They can't comprehend the commitment, the devotion, the sacrifice and sometimes, yes, the insanity. We've all been there, that eureka moment that slaps you in the face at 3 in the morning and forces you to extract yourself from the pleasant warmth of your bed in order to pin it down. Ideas are fleeting and easily lost. Sleep can be caught up on later.
I'm getting side tracked. Don't worry, you'll get used to it - linear thinking is for people far more sane than I.
Where was I? Right, day jobs. I think it's incredibly important for anybody tied up in any creative pursuit to have a life and for many people, that notion includes a day job in some form or another and the financial and social elements that accompany it.
Of course, like all writers, I fantasize about the rustic stone farmhouse in the middle of the french countryside, away from shrieking phones and doorbells, well-intentioned relatives, emails, Facebook and the impertinence of strangers. But it's a fantasy and all the sweeter for being completely unobtainable. I'd probably go mad. Either that, or I'd never have another idea again in my life.
I need people. I need stress. I need the stimulation of the everyday. Like it or not, the minor irritations and major annoyances of day to day life are the stuff that inspiration is born of.
It is not a prerequisite that you hate your day job, either. So many people think that in order to be considered 'creative' they must hate any type of structure or routine. Not true.
Your day job might be linked to writing or it might have absolutely nothing to do with it. There is no hard and fast rule that says you can only call yourself a writer if you hate all things that are not writing. That would be silly.
My day job is worlds away from my writing life. It engages a different part of my brain, demands different things from me and I get a different kind of satisfaction from it.
Does this reduce my writing to the role of frivolous hobby? Absolutely not.
Writing certainly has the potential to be financially rewarding but that's not why we do it. It's certainly not why I do it and I've yet to meet another writer whose first and only motivation is money.
Work is good for you. Social interaction is good for you. Life is good for you so get out there and live it. Your writing isn't going to suffer. Your life experience is only going to enrich your work. Think of all that you'd miss if you were chained to your desk 24/7.
Until next time...