Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Making Money vs. Following Your Dreams

My husband has found himself in a unique position for a recent university graduate—he’s doing something he loves and actually getting paid for it. Not only that, but parts of his job directly relate to the subject he wrote about in his dissertation. How many of us can say that?

I guess, technically, I can. I wrote about the development of the Christian Fiction market, and now I’m writing Christian romances. The only difference is that I’m not getting paid for what I do. Yet.

I know that my situation differs greatly from that of many aspiring writers my age. I’m not having to work in a day job I barely tolerate, which has no relation to my field of knowledge, just so I can afford to go home every night and write novels that I desperately hope someone will publish. I’m not applying for unpaid publishing or journalism internships in the hope that it’ll give me an “in” with the industry I hope to write for. I’m not starting another degree in English because at least I’ll be able to work with books in some way or another. I’m genuinely sitting at home each day, bashing out more words on my computer keyboard.

I know that sitting at my desk and writing sounds terribly boring to some people. The idea of being trapped in your home all day, only taking breaks to visit the supermarket or post office, can be terrifying for extroverts or anyone who can’t focus on their home environment.

Credit here.

But, well, that’s what writers do. We sit at our computers and write. Maybe this doesn’t make sense to non-writers, but I am extremely excited that I get to write every single day. I don’t have to squeeze in a few minutes here and there in between my day job or coursework. I actually get to write.

This is not something I expected I would be able to do at the age of twenty-two. I always imagined fitting my writing around my day job, maybe eventually having the chance to devote myself to it full-time if I became a stay-at-home mom and was at home all day.

I didn’t imagine I would get married two months before my twenty-first birthday, and even when Simon and I did get married, I figured that I would work while he studied for a Masters or PhD. It wasn’t until our final year of university, when Simon decided he didn’t want to stay in academia any longer and began applying for jobs that I realised that I had an opportunity I never anticipated. If Simon got a job that could support both of us, I wouldn’t have to work. I could actually follow my dream.

I’m not saying that I married Simon because I knew his Computer Science degree would fund my writing career, or that he’s only in this job so that I can stay at home. We’re in an amazing situation where we’ve only been out of university for three months and we’re both pursuing our dreams—software engineering for Simon, and writing for myself.

We’re not rolling in money, but we’re also not pinching pennies as much as we were at university. I appreciate the little things that have changed, like buying brand-name bagels when they’re not on offer, or having people over for dinner twice in one week without having to seriously examine our budget. We’re paying taxes and making repayments on our student loans, and this excites me! We’re doing what we love, we’re financially stable and we only graduated in June.

I realise that this isn’t everyone’s idea of happiness. We’d rather save up to buy a house than blow our savings on a round-the-world trip, but there are plenty of people who would prefer the opposite scenario. That’s not wrong either—if that’s what you truly want to do. But please respect that our idea of happiness is Simon coming home to a house where all the chores are done, so that we can spend time together every evening.

Some people might prefer working long hours so that they can go on holiday together every few months, even if they have to spend every evening catching up on laundry. I appreciate that every night is date night, that we don’t have to schedule time to see each other. We spent the first year of our marriage writing dissertations and commuting from Anstruther to St Andrews to attend classes, so I love that we can spend every evening together, even if we’re just watching television or playing a board game. I know this won’t last when we have children, so we’re cherishing this time we have together.

We might never buy furniture from anywhere but Ikea and maybe there will always be a few Value products in my shopping trolley, but I don’t mind that if it means we get to do what we love, and be with the people we love.