Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What happens when you don't do what you were meant to do?

Perhaps if I wore a latex bikini and waved an oversized foam finger with one hand while I tapped on the keyboard with the other. . .I could make money as a writer. The first two seemed to work for Miley Cyrus.  And she probably didn't have a clue that twerking became popular while she was still in diapers.

I seem to have a knack for choosing creative pursuits that aren’t lucrative…like teaching high school, bagel-dipping in Nutella, and writing.  Maybe I should have actually read the book  Do What You Love, The Money will Follow. But since I’d already discovered outlets that “fulfilled my needs, talents and passions,” I didn’t require direction, just affirmation, so I didn’t read more than the title.

Maybe I could write Fifty Shades of Blue Because I Didn’t Think of Fifty Shades of Gray Before She Did. Or The Sun Before Twilight.  Or a prequel to the Harry Potter series. But that would be as successful as my attempting to twerk on-stage with Robin Thicke.

As all my girlfriends in writing shared the past few posts, back away from your laptop if you’re pursuing fame and fortune as an author.  I’ve experienced the wiggling excitement of being offered representation by agents, book contracts, seeing my name on the cover of a novel, finding myself in a bookstore and on Amazon. Yet I’ve probably spent more in marketing, classes, and conferences than I’ve earned.

So, why do I continue to write?

Because I can’t not write, and that’s never been so clear to me as it has the past five weeks.  I’d been officially retired for five months when my husband decided to open his own business. He’s a veterinarian. This is what I do while I’m at work: I smile and say, “Hold on” and/or  “I’ll find someone who can help you.”  I’m entering inventory and clients in our database, shelving drugs with unpronounceable names, counting pills for prescriptions, mopping the floors every morning so the clinic won’t smell like the population it serves, answering the phone, leaving the house every morning at 6:30 and not returning home until after 7:00, working every Saturday and going in on Sundays to catch up from the week.

My consumption of Blue Bell ice cream is increasing in an inverse proportion to my hours of sleep and direct proportion to my depression. I went to bed at 7:30 last night and woke up at 4:00 to write this post.  It’s the first writing I’ve attempted outside of  “free exams to new clients” in over thirty days. 

When your passion is suddenly taken hostage, you eventually find a way to survive. To entertain it in your mind where it can’t be constrained. I mop and spin ideas of women once wealthy and powerful who assume false identities and hide out in low-end jobs to escape someone or something. I devise stories around clients who own ten dogs and/or cats, I name future characters after some of the clients’ pets. . . I try to not dwell in the land of, “if I’d written a blockbuster before this, I wouldn’t be wiping up unknown glick on the floor.”

I hope to be ransomed one day. In the meantime, I’m following the advice of my writer friends and keeping a journal. Maybe the glick on the floor will lead to a  break-out book. Maybe not.  But this I’ve learned: you can’t sacrifice your passion on the altar of someone else’s dreams.

Do what you love. If the money doesn’t follow, your sanity will.

When Christa isn't writing about herself in third person and ordering pet supplies, she's looking forward to the publication of A Test of Faith, her fifth novel, and anxiously awaiting the debut of her new website after her hosting company went out of business without letting her know and, thus, losing all she had.


  1. Great post, Christa!And I do hope your ransom is paid in full asap, allowing you to return to your passion. In the meantime, maybe it will be like adding fuel to your tank, and when you do "get back" you'll be raring to go!

  2. Christa, I love this post! First of all, I had never heard of TWERKING. Poor Miley Cyrus. I'd rather be mopping floors and waving doggie owners past me than having been separated from myself in ways so complete, she's going to be the next SYBIL. A rich one, but who cares. You're a wonderful writer. You are also going to, someday, be back at the keyboard. I'm sure of that. And it won't be writing hairball removal tips!

    1. Oh, the hairballs. Let me count the ways. . .

      I'd never heard of twerking either. had to Google it.

  3. I enjoyed this. I did NOT enjoy Miley Cyrus. I get what you're saying, girl. My family seems to have a fifth sense when it comes to my writing. If an inner bubble of inspiration and desire rises to the surface to meet up with a chunk of time . . . someone goes into "I need you, and ONLY you, LIFE CRISIS mode!"

  4. P.S. Don't give in to any misleading inner voice that urges you to pick up a giant foam finger-hand while at the local drugstore . . . go for the ice cream. EVERY time!

    1. Step away from the foam fingers...I'll chant that mantra all the way to the ice cream freezer. I was embarrassed for Miley, since she obviously wasn't at all.

      Don't let anyone burst your bubble, either!

  5. Great post, Christa. So true.
    I love that you are helping your husband out and I think soon when this busy time is done you will burst out something awesome.
    I also can't wait to see your new website. That is very exciting.
    Hang in there and don't regret the ice cream or the books you didn't write.

    1. Appreciate the encouragement! And, you're right, there's nothing worse than regret, so maybe it's time to put my big girl panties on and get with the program.

  6. Hopefully, your hubby's new venture will take off and enable him to hire a receptionist/bookkeeper/floor mopper...and you'll be free to hit the keyboard for something other than data entry--foam finger free, of course. Though I suppose you could use it for a seat cushion. Or to cheer your darling husband after a tough client. Anything goes, really, so long as you aren't gyrating and corrupting innocent foam. ;)

    In the meantime, enjoy your ice cream!

  7. Christa,
    Ice cream is so often the pot of gold at the end of my long days, too...I do understand. This line from your post really resonated with me: "But this I’ve learned: you can’t sacrifice your passion on the altar of someone else’s dreams."
    True, wise words -- thanks for sharing them!