On April 2nd I received a grant from the Ontario Arts Council to support my work on the Swan Harp trilogy. That same week, when I went in to work, I requested a leave of absence to devote three months to full-time writing. The company does permit leaves of absence but not, as I learned last week, for writing. Education, yes, illness, yes, or having a baby, but not for artistic endeavour.
I can’t say I was surprised. I imagine this kind of situation doesn’t arise all that often, where an employee gets money to go and follow the Muse. Instead of taking a leave of absence, therefor, I’m going to have to resign from my job.
I plan to reapply in the fall, when I’ve finished the draft of the second novel. I’ve built in a little breathing room in case there isn’t a place for me right when I want to go back. In spite of the fact that this company often takes back old hires, there is, of course, no guarantee that they’ll need me. I’m taking a risk that my job will still be there when I need it.
At the same time, there isn’t anything else I can do. I have a report on the uses to which I put my grant due in January. I want to have a seocnd draft done in time to write that report. I have to take this time to write, in other words, job or no job.
Am I worried? Worry about money is a lifelong habit with me. It runs in the family, after a fashion. My mother was always worried about the money. After the loss of the pet store, however, and my success at surfing that rough water and getting safely back to the beach, I’m finding it much harder to be concerned. I’m sure something will come up, one way or another.
In the meantime, courtesy of the Ontario taxpayers, I have three wonderful months to write 2,000 words every single blessed day, and in between work on my gardens. I can be with the dog every day – she’ll be ecstatic. I get to spend quality time with the girls – my chickens. I may even have time to develop a writing business to the point where I don’t have to go back to working for someone else. Stranger things have happened.
Even if I wind up re-entering the wonderful world of the call centre, that’s okay. Most artists have to have a day job or two, or three, to keep the roof on and the plate filled. Why should I be any exception? David says, “Maybe you’ll get a book deal!” with the enviable optimism of a man who has seen me get two book deals, neither one of which made retirement from the work world possible.
In the meantime, I’m counting down the days to the beginning of my own personal writing retreat.