My Most Precious Commodity

Photo Courtesy of  Ritesh Nayak

Photo Courtesy of Ritesh Nayak

My last blog post was all about New Year’s Resolutions. Specifically, how far are you willing to go and what are you willing to sacrifice in order to reach your dreams?

I told you that you can’t have everything you want, and you need to prioritize your choices. I asked what keeps you awake at night, and I told you to have the courage to hold onto your passions, no matter how hard, unlikely or scary their paths.

What I didn’t tell you is what I have given up to be where I am today, and what I have resolved to continue giving up in order to keep being in this place. And by ‘this place,’ of course, I mean the world of an author.

This place is scary. It’s uncertain—ever-changing and always shifting in new directions. It’s hard to keep up with trends and the demands of marketing, and it’s even harder to invest your time (and your guts and your soul) into writing a manuscript you don’t even know if you will ever be able to get published. What’s worse, your life doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so investing said time (and guts and soul) into said manuscript means sacrificing many other things. 

This is a lesson I have learned all too well these last several years. I am currently a nighttime novelist, and I spend my days planning events for an animal-related non-profit organization. The workload is sometimes overwhelming, and I am very rarely not putting in my time for one pursuit or the other. However, I find both jobs to be rewarding. With both paychecks combined, I can *pretty much* pay my bills and break even each month.

It’s a hard life. More than once, I have wondered if I should put my writing on hold and/or spend my days working at a higher paying, less fulfilling job. And of course, who hasn’t dreamed of winning the lottery or having some rich, distant relative or philanthropic millionaire become their benefactor? 

I took a third job writing proposals for an accounting firm for exactly one day last year. I literally cried in the parking lot for so long after orientation that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to see well enough to drive home.

That’s when it occurred to me that money wasn’t my most precious commodity like I thought it was. My most precious commodity was my time, and the hours I would spend writing accounting proposals were hours I could spend working on my next novel instead.

So, I quit that job (after repeatedly apologizing to my poor brother-in-law, who had stuck out his neck to secure it for me). Then, I went home and pulled out my laptop to write, and I didn’t feel quite as destitute as usual when I realized I would still struggle to pay my bills every month.

I wouldn’t be going on a vacation any time soon, and I certainly wouldn’t be paying off the debt I had inherited from my time in Colorado. I wouldn’t be able to buy new outfits or go out to fancy dinners like most of my friends, and I would still get chest pains every time I realized I needed to go to the grocery store or fill up my gas tank.

But you know what? Nowadays, whenever I catch myself stressing out or longing for those comforts—and I still do, almost every single day—I stop myself. And I ask (sometimes out loud), “Is this worth it? Is this worth giving up on my dreams?”

Maybe someday, the answer will be yes. 

But until then, I refuse to quit fighting.