Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Friday, May 19, 2017

Doing something else with my life

Recently, I posted on Facebook that it was time to do something else with my life. This came right after I posted about how I was so disappointed in myself and angry at myself for being so selfish, irresponsible and, well, stupid for so long.

Some background:

It usually happens that a person graduates from high school, goes to college to learn a trade, graduates from college, practices that trade and, meanwhile, pursues a dream in his/her very little spare time. Then, when they succeed and hit it big, they quit their job and pursue their dream fulltime, bringing in a nice amount of money and living comfortably as a success at whatever it is they love to do – be it writing, singing, dancing, painting, acting, etc.

Well, that’s not how I did things. Of course I had to do it all backwards. Of course I had to be different!

I did go to college after high school, but I didn’t finish college. The money for college ran out. And instead of continuing to try to get the money for college elsewhere, I decided, “Screw it! I’m going to do something else.”

That something else was pursue writing fulltime.

I threw myself into journalism, freelance writing and writing books. My first book was published when I was 30 years old and I thought I’d finally made it. Unfortunately, that first book did not propel me to any bestseller list, make my name known everywhere or put a tidy sum of money into my bank account. So I thought I should stick with the freelance writing. And write MORE books. Maybe then that will make all that stuff happen.

Well, that’s what I tried to do. And I thought doing something big with my books – like writing and co-writing 20 books by the time I was 40 – would finally get me to where I wanted to be as an author.

And of course that didn’t happen! Even today, I am still a struggling author.

My husband has been supporting us for all that time. Even though I was working as a freelance writer, with a small sale here and there, and even though I had the occasional gig and the occasional book sale, my writing was not enough to help support us. My husband was and is the main breadwinner. Sure, I help out with my monthly annuity check, but now even that is not enough because life is getting more expensive for us.

As it is, we are in a house that is sinking, but we can’t move because there is no money to move. My husband has health problems and may need surgery which also means he may not be able to work for a while. I have a lot of bills to pay and debts that I want to resolve. We have no savings and no emergency fund. We have just enough money each month to get by – and even then sometimes there are days we struggle until payday rolls around. And I am very freaking insanely tired of borrowing money from people or selling my possessions instead of EARNING the money that we need!!!

And if I had been earning my share all this time, for all these years instead of wishing and hoping I’d get an agent that would bring in a nice sale or an advance because of a book, then we would not be in the deep shit that we are in now. I am not kidding when I say our situation is dire. It really is.

So. That said, I am no longer going to be devoting so much of my time to my writing. I will continue to write books and short stories and send whatever out whenever, but that can no longer be a priority in my life. The writing is not supporting us or serving as a means for me to earn a living. It hasn’t for a long time! It must now be a hobby for me. Not a career. It must now come second or maybe even third.

My circumstances are different now. Life is different now. I HAVE to have something in place that brings in an extra income. Something that actually HELPS support my family.

And before anyone complains that maybe I didn’t try hard enough or that I didn’t try this market or that market or that I am just giving up too easily: I DON’T CARE. I have tried EVERYTHING. I put over 10 years into making my dream of being a successful, famous author a reality. It never came true! I cannot continue trying to make that happen. Life demands I be more responsible and take care of my family’s needs. And my family needs me to be working!

A lot of people saw my post on FB and all of a sudden it was like I had declared I was no longer going to write a single word ever again. “Don’t stop writing!” was a common message.

Well, I want to say here and now, I WON’T stop writing. I have said this before but obviously I need to say it again: I WILL NEVER STOP WRITING! That is hard to turn off. I have been writing for a very long time. It is too much a part of me now. It is what I am and what I will always be. I will always be a writer but that will no longer be my identity.

That just won’t be my career of choice anymore. I won’t be devoting so much of my life to it anymore. No, I have a responsibility to my family. They need me to step up and provide and that is exactly what I am going to do.

I am angry at myself for dropping out of college all those years ago to run this foolish errand. I should have stayed in school. I should have gotten a degree so that I could have gone on to get a job. I know a lot of people say you don’t need a degree to get a job, but having a degree would have improved my chances of employment. And I have had to pass on applying for A LOT of jobs because they required a degree.

But I’m over all that anger, regret and self-hatred now. Yes, I made a mistake. I screwed up. I can’t go back in time to fix it. And I can’t exactly go back to school either because my oldest is heading off to college in a few years and right now, HER college education is more important. Money for her to go to college is more important. And, you know, there’s very little saved up for even that. Yet another financial thing I am worrying about!

Now, I HAVE tried to obtain part-time employment in the past. (My schedule as a mom is so crazy that it has to be part-time employment for now!) I have actually spent three years trying to get a job. Just ANY job, really. Working from home or not. Just, anything I was qualified for! But nothing has come out of that. I got rejected from one job after another. Nobody wanted to hire me!

So I’m beginning to think that, while I can’t go back to college, maybe I can still get vocational training somewhere. I have been told that it does not take so long and that it is more affordable. So I really think if I did that, then I’d have a better chance of getting a job somewhere. I can only hope, anyway! With my deafness and my physical limitation, it might narrow down what choices I have available, but I really need to try to find SOMETHING!

So basically I am doing things backward. I pursued my dream instead of establishing a secure form of employment first. That didn’t work, so I’m going back to the employment stage of things. Maybe THEN I will finally hit it big as an author? I dunno. Part of me thinks it’s too late. I have a long line of unsuccessful books attached to my name, so I doubt it. Nobody wants an author whose books are not selling.

And everybody needs to PLEASE remember one thing: I will keep writing. I will try to honor my personal goals with the writing, but we’ll see if that can still happen even after I get a job. But I’ll keep writing. I’ll finish my books. Write more short stories. Send stuff out for publication when I find the right places to send them. And I will honor the contracts and the agreements that I have with people concerning other books.

But writing just won’t be a priority anymore. I gave my dream my best shot. It’s been fun, but it’s time to get back in touch with the real world. And the real world needs my ass to be working and helping to support my family. They need me. They come first. They always will – even over the writing. So now I no longer identify myself as a writer, author or poet. I’m just me. Just Dawn. That is all I will ever be, I suppose. And that’s okay.  At least I tried to make my dream come true. Alas, another one got shot down!

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