Cliché I know, but after two and a half years of hiding in the dark, I finally updated my job title on my LinkedIn profile today and I could feel the sweat running down my cheek as I did so. I really wanted to change it from Product Developer (yes, I did have a proper day job once upon a time!) to “Writer” but I chickened out and went with the safe “Stay At Home Dad” moniker. LinkedIn would have none of it either, Stay-At-Home Dad does not fall into any acceptable “business Industries” so I had to plant a stake in the ground and choose the very last one of the list “Writing & Editing”. So much for hiding my dreams. If I flatter myself (that anyone would even spare my life a second thought), I can already hear the groans from old colleagues I have not heard from in years.
It’s exactly why I had not updated my “professional” profile – I don’t consider myself a writer – yet. I have nothing to show for my writing efforts so how can I honestly pin on a badge that says writer? Sure, I have some writing, maybe even the makings of a decent novel, but nothing I would show to anyone with a pulse. I may be a brave scary ‘get off my property’ type monster in real life, but the thought of someone else reading my prose (and not the drivel I put up here!) fills me with such sheer and utter unbridled terror that I feel sick just thinking about it.
Somehow, updating my business profile with this information is like saying goodbye to the safe, professional, productive and lucrative parts of my past. Shutting the door as it were on any possibilities not involving writing or cleaning ice-cream off the back seat. I still get at least a half dozen profile views a month and connection requests, mostly from employment agencies or HR types obviously wanting to find candidates – yes, Telecoms in SA has such a shortage of staff, they are desperate – but I have a feeling that this will change from today. I’m ok with that actually, I just wonder if I will miss out on something that has just taken a detour into an alternative reality, an alternative future path that I will no longer experience. Sure, if something entrepreneurial comes up, I would not be adverse to trying it out but I think I am happy where I am right now. I have accepted the path I have chosen.
Oh ok, I could be happier and have my name on a book on the New York Times Bestseller list!
As I updated the profile I realised, to my horror, that I had not worked for anyone for two and a half years – no income, out of choice. Am I bloody flaming nuts! Gulp. Yes, I know what you are thinking so I will say it. That is an incredibly long time to have been doing nothing! You started writing but have nothing to show for it. Oh come on, prove it! In my defence, I did only really commit to writing about a year and a bit ago – just after failing at Nano 2011 – and it really does take time to write – especially, if like me, you are learning as you go.
Isn’t it amazing how we all feel the need to justify our lack of progress with excuses.
Here are some more. There is an article in the Writer’s Digest (Jan 2013) entitled, “Lessons From First-Time Novelists” that I found very interesting. In summary it is a roundtable discussion by 5 different breakout authors sharing their experiences. One of the questions related to how long they tried to write and get published. One took 30 years of writing before anything was published, another had her second book picked up in 24 hours. So, I figure I have some leeway here although I am beginning to feel that I should be submitting work for the inevitable rejection letter count! Most seem to have suffered through at least 30 odd rejections before success! Enough excuses.
In the same magazine there is also a fascinating interview with Jim Grant, aka Lee Child (Jack Reacher books) and how he lost his job at the age of 39 and 2 years later the Killing Floor debuted in 1997. The 17th novel was released in Sept 2012. I am 39. I am unemployed. I want to be a writer. I have about 9 months left of my 2 years to pull something out of my hat… Can I do it? Now there is the million dollar question!
No going back now, LinkedIn says I am going to be a writer in my professional capacity – must be true. Come on. LinkedIn does not let you lie – just how long is it acceptable to bend the truth?
ps… and guess what, the power went out for a burger and chips again today.
pss. No idea where the LinkedIn superman pic originally came from – hopefully I am not infringing on someone’s copyright on my lowly little blog. I’ll remove it on request if needed.