Slip Sliding Away

I locked the door behind me and slipped into the cool morning, my final e-mails sent, my final bank statements reconciled. I slipped the key into the mail slot next to the front door and just like that – no fanfare, no trembling of the earth –  I became unemployed a full-time writer.

I think I’ve done what I could to set this up so I can look in the mirror every morning and assure myself it’s going to be all right. Private health insurance for me, new and improved life insurance for the hubs, enough set aside for a disaster. I have a sense of direction and a few self-imposed deadlines. I rearranged my office, ordered a stand-up desk for my laptop, made out a writing to-do list and sallied forth.

The Gremlin of Self-Defeat perches on one shoulder. Picture him nearly tumbling off, he is cackling so hard. The Faerie of Belief (who looks amazingly like Glinda, the Good Witch of the North) twirls her sparkly wand and makes all sorts of soothing noises, but thus far hasn’t been particularly helpful. Like, not giving me the right words so I don’t have to sweat them out on my own.

Still, I had a lovely transition to the writing life last week, attending the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference. The Conference offered the inspiration I needed to believe I had to give this a try. That even failure would be better than a lifetime of woulda-shoulda-coulda. It’s been only a week, so I’m a little wobbly with what I’m supposed to be doing, besides writing. Which I was doing before unemployment  I decided to try writing full-time, of course. But now I have so many more hours to fill. And finding they aren’t enough for all I want to do.

In the past week, I revised an already-published short story and sent it off for consideration for a new anthology. I’m revising/polishing two other published short stories for a couple of contests and two unpublished shorts and a flash fiction piece to send out to journals. I started a new short story. I’m thinking I’ll take a day or two each week to work on these – a little cross-training for the main event.

I landed on 128,000 words a couple of weeks ago – roughly a 340 page novel. I’m so close to the end, but struggling to write the final scenes and bring all the pieces together in a tidy but satisfying dénouement. I decided it was time to print out the whole crazy mess and start a re-read and a revision from page one, trusting I’d find resolution of the end along the way.

Ah, Jeez. What year is this? How does 2015 sound for a goal end date? Crikey. This is going to take some time. I park at the beach and read aloud to myself in the front seat of the car, red pen in hand. I spent Sunday afternoon filling pages with plot notes that I had to sort through and transcribe. Two mornings spent rearranging scenes. Literally laying them out on the floor and rearranging them, storyboard-style.

But more on the process of revision later. I had a couple of a-ha moments last week, thanks to some super-amazing lectures and workshops which I’ll share in a subsequent post.

In the meantime, here I am, with Gremlin and Faerie on my shoulders, doing their thing. I had some very dark moments during the week, rereading and falling into my own plot holes. I thought, “Julie, this is shite. Really, sweetheart. It’s crap.” But then I’d read a passage or part of a scene and I’d feel it, I’d feel the story. I’d lose myself and forget to look for junky little filler words or moments of telling instead of showing or a better verb.

I tell myself I have to see this through, I have to take it as far as I can. There will always be jobs – I’m through with careers, but I can always find another job. I won’t always have this time, this summer, maybe I won’t even have this hope. But I have it now. And I want to use it, before it slips, slides away.

Whoah God only knows, God makes his plan 
The information’s unavailable to the mortal man 
We’re workin’ our jobs, collect our pay 
Believe we’re gliding down the highway, when in fact we’re slip sliding away 

~Paul Simon


15 thoughts on “Slip Sliding Away

  1. This is so much like what I’m experiencing right now. Recently quit my job, husband is supporting the both of us while I try to pursue this dream…and it’s terrifying. Is it just me, or is this all terrifying? I’ve learned so much, and sometimes I have moments where I feel complete, where I think, ‘this is right.’ But it’s been so much work, and it’s been scary.

    I’m wishing you the best of luck! You seem to be quite a few steps ahead of me, so I’m cheering you on as you continue to work at getting your novel published. And congrats on the Freshly Pressed. 🙂


    • Juniper- I began writing full-time in July. There’s no question that it’s terrifying. I am filled with despair and determination It’s the scariest and loneliest thing I’ve done. I’m blessed, like you, to have a supportive husband (and supporting), but find that I am not coping well with the loss of income and identity. I’ve never NOT earned a living and fear becoming completely irrelevant, of not being able to rejoin a career or find a new one should writing prove…pointless. Each day is a battle to keep going. It’s those moments you describe, the sense that I am complete when I write, that writing is the right thing to do, that keep me moving forward.

      I cheer you on! I’m so glad you stopped in to comment and encourage. One step, one day, one word at a time. All the best to you!


  2. You are going to do, no wait, you ARE doing great and wonderful things. You have such a beautiful way with words. From the outside looking in, it looks like this is what you are meant to do. Much love from Oklahoma!


  3. It sounds like you’re off to an excellent start! Keeping focused, setting deadlines, actually *doing work* instead of talking about it. All good stuff. Can’t wait to see what comes out of it.


  4. Oh Dear Julie: I can’t wait to be with you. You do have an amazing talent, I am sure. We will see you a two weeks. Love, Mary Anne

    On Wed, Jul 17, 2013 at 7:44 PM, CHALK THE SUN


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