The Struggle Between Art and Time

I am not comfortable talking about money. Or how I struggle to make time to write while raising two kids and juggling a medium-distance relationship. Or the crusty sear of pain I feel when I receive another rejection on the latest project that was supposed to fix everything (got one this morning).

This might surprise you because I DO talk about this stuff, relentlessly. And I will keep talking about it because the only thing more uncomfortable than sharing it is keeping it to myself. (Plus, you’re a good listener, and you give me ideas I wouldn’t have on my own.)

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So, to update, here is my current Life Choice:

  1. I’ve essentially been offered $32,000 a year to write whatever I want, full-time. Anything my writing makes above and beyond that is mine to keep, though if it goes above $15,000, I lose that $32,000. This amount is enough for my two kids and me to get by, barely, or…

  2. I return to teaching full-time and write on the side. The money is good and guaranteed with this route, and I enjoy teaching, but (outside of leading creative writing workshops and retreats) teaching is not my passion. It’s a job. Writing, and teaching creative writing, are my passion.

You’ll agree that this is a lovely first-world problem to have, yes? I received valuable input on this choice yesterday, here and on Facebook, and I’m putting it all into a pot to simmer for a week (though I’ve 99% made up my mind to go for #2; it’s hard to beat genetic conditioning).

So today’s post is less about the nuts and bolts of making a writing life and more about how to carve out time for creativity without sacrificing relationships and well-being, something I know a lot of you struggle with in different versions of my same situation. Wait, it’s even more existential than that. It’s about who we are. Are we workers who aim for a comfortable life, or does everyone have a passion and a purpose, and are they cowards if they don’t give that 100%? Is it enough to follow your dream, part-time and safely, or is that selling out, and will it guarantee you never reach your dream?

I can’t tell if I’m trying to unionize everybody or just going through the early stages of menopause. In any case, my question remains: is there ever a “best” or even a “better” time to risk everything, and if so, how do you recognize it?

Please comment below, and also, consider joining us at our creative writing retreat in France this June to delve deeper into living a creative life, and/or our publish that book retreat in California in August to discover your path to publication.