"You're a writer?" The man I had just met grinned. "And you work full time? So I guess you're just waiting for that big success before you can quit, eh?"
No. Not really. The older I get, the more I realize it's all about balance. I need to keep a good mix of all ingredients in my life in balance if I want to remain happy . . . work, family, writing, sleep, food, sun (not necessarily in that order!). I can't imagine to quit writing because it fills a hole in my soul and gives me a satisfaction nothing else equals. But I can't imagine working from home for weeks and months on end either. If find so much inspiration in my day job as product manager in marketing, so many entertaining things. For example . . . if I didn't work, I would never have met my former boss who started to twirl his eyebrows whenever he was deep in thought. They made a scratchy sound I will never forget, and one day soon, that little habit will crop up somewhere in my novels.
I'll never forget the Italian taxi driver who drove me through the dismal suburbs of Milan on a rainy spring morning and suddenly burst into song. After a few startled moments, I joined him (under my breath!). Or the waiter at the hotel in Paris, who controlled the breakfast room by gliding through it, his glasses pushed high on his short-shorn hair, head thrown back as if he was star-gazing. I'll never forget the international marketing meeting where heads of countries jumped up and stared to shout at each other, emotions raw. So no, I don't want to quit my day job. It's a constant source of inspiration, and I know that I would prowl around the house and make everybody unhappy if I were cooped up too long. Of course I wished it was even better balanced. A little less day job, a little more sun, and a lot more time to write. Right. But all in all, I'm happy.
I just have to pay attention to one thing: Often, when I write down the things I see and hear, just the way they are, people say, "Tone it down. That's way too unrealistic." It happened recently, when I described a migraine I once had. I didn't invent anything; I just wrote down the pain I felt -- of liquid fire sloshing around in my head. But my editor said we didn't want to give readers the feeling that the heroine was about to have a major brain seizure. I blinked when I heard that. It was nothing but the truth . . . But I didn't demur and made it softer. Funny enough, when I invent things, everybody swallows them without batting an eyelid. So now I take life and tone it down . . . or add little things in the plot all around to increase the verisimilitude . . .
How about you? Do you feel that your day job is a burden or an inspiration? Or both?