It's not "Joe Vs. the Volcano" (my son, Paul's, favorite movie; don't ask me why), but it is my unending dilemma: How do I keep putting food on the table and keep writing at the same time when writing isn't putting food on the table?
It's a big enough conundrum when the writing is paying something; when I'm stuck in Writer Purgatory and the writing isn't working and the day job is taking up more and more of my time and energy, and there is simply no mental space for creativity at all, then it's something more like the outer ring of Writer Hell.
It's not as if I'm the first creative person ever to experience the problem. Some true greats have been here before me. What would Faulkner have produced if he could have made his living writing during the early years -- not working in a bookstore for hourly wages? And what do you mean I can't compare myself to Faulkner? (Okay, okay, that was a stretch. I admit it.
I thought the problem might end when I gave up full-time university teaching, and it did -- to some extent. Although it took a year after my retirement for my brain to come out of its numbed condition, I am creating again and loving it. And even though the former second job has now become the full-time 40-hour-per-week first job, it isn't the 24/7 pressure that came with the demands of five university-level writing classes and (usually) around 150 students. Yikes.
Still, it isn't the full-time writing dream I have always imagined which, I'm beginning to think, must have been one of my more fanciful fictional creations.
I'm writing and I'm loving it. That's what counts, and I'm putting the food on the table as well. Now and then, I'm even taking time away from the day job to indulge in a bit of full-time writing.
Hmmm... Maybe I don't have such a big dilemma after all.