Grateful for the day job

There’s a good deal to be said for a day job. I’m not always this philosophical about having mortgaged forty hours of my writing time a week, not to mention an additional fifteen hours of commuting. This week, however, I found myself unexpectedly, albeit grudgingly, grateful for the job.

I’ve been trying to figure out ways to cut back my working days. Recently I pursued a promising avenue in the form of freelance editing for a small publisher. This week I got my first manuscript from them and my heart sank.

Within the first few pages it was very clear to me that this manuscript was nowhere near ready for a final edit. I foresaw an incredible amount of work; I couldn’t imagine having the book ready for publication within a year, much less the shorter time allotted me. I also knew that I couldn’t justify the hours I would have to put in for the fee my contract specified.

I really, really wanted this gig. I saw it as my way to get a little more writing and art time while maintaining the income I needed by doing something I enjoy. I didn’t want to quit on the first assignment. At the same time, I couldn’t afford to do the necessary work on this particular manuscript. I could feel my stress levels rising just at the thought.

In the end I remembered that I did, after all, have a job that paid my bills. I took a few deep breaths and wrote a frank email to the publisher about what the manuscript needed and what I was prepared to do. Then I mentally wrote off that whole gig. If they fired me for it, so be it. I wasn’t happy about it, but at least the groceries weren’t riding on my decision.

To my surprise, I received a positive and supportive answer, followed within an hour by a second, different, manuscript. Just a glance at the new one showed me it was much closer to completion, and manageable within the timeframe. So I’m still on, which is good, with an achievable goal, which is better. I’ll see how I feel about the whole thing after a few assignments, whether it’s what I visualized, or what I need, or can do, before I cut back to a four-day week on the day job.

In the meantime, I’m on my way in to work tonight and grateful to have it.

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