I subscribe to a blog created by a publishing company run by and for women writers called SheWritesPress. Every week or so I get an email with a bunch of links to articles I hardly ever read, but one last week caught my eye. The title was “Don’t Quit Your Day Job.” That phrase has always irritated me. What I think when I hear it is You’re not good enough to do the thing you love so don’t fool yourself. I might also think the person who just said that thinks the grind of a 9 to 5 job is more virtuous, more responsible and mature than the person who commits everything to their art. As far as I know, no one has ever said these words to me, but it’s become a cliché thing to say to or about artists who are struggling with the business side of their work.
I dislike this phrase so much that I read the blog to see what the author had to say. Maybe she and I agreed? We didn’t, but she had a better attitude.
Her point was that if you’re lucky enough to have a job that gives you the time, energy, and resources to do the writing you love, then write about your job; use the things you do at work as material for the writing you’re doing. If you’re a waitress at night, use the restaurant as your set. If you’re a temp worker, use the office and the workers you meet as your characters. The author’s words struck home for me. I realized I was in the process of doing exactly what she was describing: I’m writing a book about being a musician. I felt like she was cheering me on.
In November one of the stories I've written for my someday-to-be-finished book was published in an anthology called Stories of Music. I met with the publisher/editor, Holly Tripp, for lunch on Thursday. Our meeting was a mutual admiration society event: she wants me to finish my book (I am) and I want her to keep pushing her book (she is). Take a look. It's a beautiful project.
Maybe twenty years ago my father started sending out a newsletter to a small group of family and friends. He distributes it on above-average 8” x 11” paper that’s printed by a real printer, not duplicated. Both sides are filled with short paragraphs that feature his thoughts on different topics he’s interested in. But a few years ago he called it quits. Putting it together was no longer what he wanted to do with his time. His readers rebelled! At a family gathering two summers ago, we circulated a petition demanding he recommence. He did! I think that petition proved to him that a bunch of us were paying attention; we wanted to know his point of view on matters of politics, banking, world events, etc. Whenever his newsletter arrives (one came last week) I open it with enthusiasm and curiosity.
In early April, I’ll be doing a writing workshop geared towards writers who have not yet shared their writing with others, or, writers who are terrified to share their work. The one-day event will be part of the Annual Woodstock Writers Festival. For those of you in Colorado, I’ll be doing a similar workshop at the Writers Exchange in Buena Vista, CO on February 6th. I’m promoting events I’m involved in, yes, but more than anything I’m hoping to nudge you along. Whatever it is you love to do, however you do it, please keep it up. What you create is important. Carry on!
Happy New Year!
This was a few nights ago in The Wet Mountain Valley. Cold, cold, cold, but so clear. If you're ever near these parts (Westcliffe, CO) make sure to be here at night. We've recently been designated the ninth Dark Skies location in the world, which is to say, the stars at night are bright. If you're missing the stars because of artificial light, this is the place to come!