I have no idea who Jon Morrow is, but he’s a pretty good writer.
Kind of an ass, but a pretty good writer.
He says you should quit your day job, embrace the fear, throw yourself into the darkness because that’s better than having your soul suffocated by the cube, by the comfortable life. He even put his money where is mouth is, quitting his high paying job, losing his apartment and health care when he has Spinal Muscular Atrophy. That takes the biggest kind of balls, and I can respect that. Hell, he dictated the article only able to move his face. In fact, calling him an ass is probably the boldest thing I’ve ever published. Might even be uncalled for. But in all honesty, it was a much softer reaction than my initial one.
Right now I might sound like a bit of a dick, so let me explain. It’s not that I disagree with Morrow, it’s a nice sentiment, and important to remember. I am always having to balance my writing every day against my other responsibilities. A lot of times I neglect one for the other. And my day job, yeah, it gets in the way all the time, but I’ll come back to that.
If you, by yourself, want to be a writer in the world we live in, hell yeah, quit your job. More now than ever, you can make an income from being a author. If you work at it, produce, and tell good stories, you can build something like no other time in history. It might be tough, but he’s right, cut your expenses down to the bare minimum and dedicate yourself to your craft. It will be hard but you’ll be doing what you truly want. Fill your soul to the mother fucking brim with the delights of the written word.
But if you have people who rely on you, sit your Goddamn ass back down.
You are no longer just you. When you married that person or had kids, you became more than just yourself. You and those people have made a new individual, and if that new individual’s existence (and food) is reliant on your income, you have a sworn duty to take care of it. If it relies on you for food and shelter, your soul can and will need to regularly sit down, shut up, and stay out of the way.
What concerns me about Mr. Morrow’s words isn’t that people will quit their jobs and build a business and be successful. Or even fail. My concern is that they will quit the jobs they hate already so they can use their “passion” as an excuse to dabble for years whilst their family withers. My concern is also for those who barely scratch together the time to pursue their dream, the people hard at work taking care of their families, them feeling like they need to just go ahead and give up because if they were real writers they wouldn’t be so concerned with that, because “real writers” aren’t afraid to be “responsible” to their writing.
Your responsibility, if you have a family (whether you are a man, woman, or anything in between) is to take care of said family. Period. It is more important than anything else in this whole world. Hopefully, if you work your ass off and play the game right, you will put yourself into the position of providing for them with something you love, whether it’s being a writer or a painter or an astronaut. I genuinely believe everyone should pursue their dreams, should be able to make money from being whatever they want to be or do. But it is neither quick nor easy and your family will not stop eating while you chase your fucking muse.
You don’t have to earn a six figure salary, you don’t have to run the whole damn company or be a partner in a law firm to provide for them. If you want to write, really want to write, maybe you need to take a step back and reevaluate. Because it’s a hard thing being full time in a high powered position trying to do something on the side.
Not the point.
The point is that human potential and empowerment and all those things, all those wonderful things, should always come after your family. That does not mean you have to sacrifice everything you hold dear to your kid’s braces or your wife’s new furniture. You can have your own thing, you can be obsessive about it, you can go hogwild and take care of your family.
But you don’t piss into the wind doing it.
There are people I follow who’ve done the very thing he talks about. In fact, it was one of those people that lead me to the article in the first place. I’ve always tried to respect people’s different positions in life, their different responsibilities. For those that have risked their homes or families to take risks like this, I have no right to judge. If you’re doing that, I’m really not trying to point fingers and call you out.
But I will be damned if someone judges me, or people like me, for not “living as an artist”.
I pay respect to those that have had the courage to quit their jobs, give up stability and risk everything to be a pioneer. More than that, I owe them. Those are the people who made this whole self publishing thing work, who blazed the trails so much of us follow. Believe me, I respect that, but I also respect the person who has the strength, nay, the fucking fortitude, to do both. The people who write before and after work, while their kids are napping, while their spouse is sleeping.
From the day I was born til, literally, two months ago my dad worked 60-80 hours a week. He worked as a welder and later a detailer, now he’s a manager. For the first time in his life he doesn’t have to work that schedule to make enough for our family or for him and my mom’s future. He gave everything he had for us. And I’m not talking about just his hopes and dreams. He gave bones, flesh, and blood, burned the skin off an arm with a blowtorch, sawed his knee in half, worked himself to the point that he was so dehydrated his skin lost its elasticity. He put me and my sister through school, bought every car we’ve ever had, paid for our insurance, bought our books, and has personally showed up to teach/save my ass from anything that broke in my house/car.
I don’t know all the things my dad would have liked to have done for himself. I do know he didn’t give himself much time to do it and I recognize the courage he’s always had in sticking with a job that wore him to the bone. He did that for my mom and my sister and for me. So that I could write books and tell stories and sit in a cube, so that I wouldn’t have to worry about stitching my fingers back together to go back to work or pull metal out of my eyeballs with a magnet.
So that I could have it better.
My dream is important, there have been times where making monsters and magic has been the only thing that kept me sane. If I am working a hundred hours a week, I will be scribbling my ideas on toilet paper in a bathroom. It’s that important. You couldn’t beat it out of me, and for a lot of people, I think it’s the same.
So yeah, I’m gonna sit in my fucking cube for my son so that he has it better, so I don’t squander away what my dad built. I will cling to the safety it offers because I cannot abide the possibility that he or my wife might be at risk. I will work to eradicate that danger with extreme prejudice, will burn those risks from our lives with stability and order.
I will do it for my family’s future, because I have the strength to do both without having to choose.
Because if my dream, my muse, is so weak that it can’t survive that, than it has not earned the breath by which it lives nor its place in my life.