Life's been a bit chaotic lately, as you might have guessed. One result of the divorce and my intent to hold on to this house without resorting to prostitution is that I've rented a room to a 20-year-old college kid.
It's not as inconvenient as you might imagine. The house is quite large, and most of the time I don't even know my young tenant is here. He stays in his room listening to music and doing whatever it is young males do behind closed doors.
I'd rather not dwell on that.
The other night, I wanted pork chops. Since I love to cook and it's not any tougher to prep a dinner for two people than for one, I invited my young tenant to join me. He seemed downright giddy at the prospect of a home-cooked meal, and chattered amicably with me as I prepared pork chops braised with shallots in a honey balsamic reduction, rosemary garlic mashed potatoes, and roasted asparagus.
Once he stopped being perplexed at the lack of a frozen pizza on the table, he dug right in.
"This is amazing," he gushed between bites. "Why didn't you become a chef?"
It was such a funny, typically 20-year-old question that I almost laughed.
"Because I like to cook," I told him. "If I had to do it for a job, I might not like it anymore."
It was such a foreign concept to him that he stopped chewing and stared at me. "You mean you want a job you don't like?"
"Not exactly. It's just that loving to do something doesn't necessarily mean it's a good career choice."
I refrained from adding that if I set out to pick a career based on what I love most, the prostitution thing might not be such a bad idea after all.
It did get me thinking though. Not about prostitution, but the fine line between loving to do something and making a living at it. In a roundabout way, I've been writing for my supper my whole adult life. The bulk of my career has been in marketing and public relations, so the writing portion of it taps a different part of my mind than romantic comedy does.
Still, there have been times when the day job sucks the creative writing center of my brain to the point that it resembles a deflated udder. To say that makes it tough to come home and crank out chapters in a novel is a bigger understatement than if I told you I have a mild fondness for being groped.
My urge to protect my creative energy is the main reason I avoid accepting freelance writing projects on the side unless I'm bribed with large amounts of free food and cash. I know my well can run dry, so I'd prefer to save the water for a sexy bubble bath rather than a load of laundry.
I didn't say any of this to my young tenant, of course. By then he'd grown bored with the conversation and was busy texting someone with one hand as he shoveled up the last of the mashed potatoes with the other.
"You're a very good cook," he said politely.
"Thank you," I replied. "You're not going to eat the asparagus?"
He frowned. "It's green."
"I can't argue with that."
How do you find the balance between having a job you love and one that pays the bills? If you're a writer, do you ever reach a saturation point where you fear you might kill your own desire to do it?
Speaking of doing it . . . oh, never mind. Writing is pretty much like prostitution anyway, right?