Thursday, September 6, 2012

On struggles, sacrifice, and drinking wine while being groped

I love concerts more than drinking wine  being groped  drinking wine while being groped

I love concerts a lot.

For a pair of tickets to see a performer I really admire, I'd gladly give up drinking wine  being groped  drinking wine while being groped  my morning mug of tea.

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of seeing Brandi Carlile live for the first time. I've attended hundreds of concerts in my 38 years on the planet, so you know it's a big deal when I say this one made my top five list.

Brandi charmed me not only with her passion and musical talent, but with the stories she told between songs. Stories about struggling to make it as an artist. About the roller coaster of creative successes and failures. About what it's like to perform at outdoor venues in the summertime and finally, finally be the one standing onstage when the sun goes down.

I wish I'd written down the precise words she spoke about the things people are willing to give up to chase their dreams, but I was too busy drinking wine  being groped  drinking wine while being groped  enjoying the music.

But it struck a chord with me anyway. And it got me thinking about how many artists have that thread running through their words. Shawn Mullins is another one of my favorite performers, and though he's from the South, I've had the pleasure of seeing him several times in Oregon. He often opens with a song titled, "Twin Rocks, Oregon" about a chance meeting with a transient man offering a unique perspective on life.


The lyrics that always sock me in the gut are these ones:
I told him I, too, had been travelin' around 
Living out of my van from town to town 
Playing for tips and whatever records I could move
I said, "I don't reckon I'll be making it big 

It's hard to get rich off a tour of coffeehouse gigs."
He said, "yeah, but ain't it a blessin' to do what you wanna do?"
I've thought more than once about having those last few words tattooed on my arm, particularly during the post-divorce struggles of this past year.

I make it a policy not to share specifics of money when it comes to my life as an author, but I don't think it will surprise you to learn I don't travel around on book tour in a pink Leer jet with shirtless male flight attendants groping me while I drink wine offering me in-flight magazines. Until last week, I drove a 15-year-old car with a dented bumper and a cracked windshield. Nearly every stitch of clothing I own comes from thrift stores, and my annual expenditure for haircuts & styling is under $100.

In the years before I had a book deal, I worked full-time in marketing & communications earning surprisingly good money. I was laid off just weeks before my agent landed me my three-book romantic comedy deal with Sourcebooks, and when I went job-hunting after that, I opted to find a part-time job that allowed me more time for writing.

The pay cut stung, and it stung a lot harder when I suddenly found myself single with a mortgage to pay. Over and over, I asked myself if I'd be smart to swap those extra writing days for the paycheck of a full-time job.

That might have been the smart thing to do, but it wasn't what I chose. Even though I knew it meant a lot of life changes – taking in housemates to pay the mortgage, eventually selling the house – I was willing to make sacrifices to give myself the time I knew I needed to pursue this writing career as wholeheartedly as I could.

Will that choice pay off?

If you mean will I eventually acquire that pink Leer jet with shirtless male flight attendants groping me while I drink wine offering me in-flight magazines, I can assure you it probably won't.

But that was never the payoff I expected anyway.

The thing I want most from my writing career is to wake up every morning knowing I'm doing what I want to do. Maybe not every moment of the day, and Lord knows there have been moments I wanted to stuff my laptop in the neighbor's septic tank and set fire to it.

But certainly I spend the bulk of my waking hours thinking I'm damn lucky to have the opportunities I've been given as an author. The fact that I've made a few sacrifices to achieve that only serves as a reminder how much I truly want to spend my time doing what I've chosen to do.

What are your thoughts on the subject? What struggles and sacrifices are you willing to endure to reach your goals? Please share.

I'll be over here drinking wine  being groped  drinking wine while being groped  working on my next novel.


Judy, Judy, Judy said...

Right now I am struggling to do what I most want movement wise. I want to work out in the pool. I finally resigned myself that the only time I can make it happen is 5am. And that's after a 20 minute drive.
I'm a night owl with a night job so I come back and sleep after that.
And yes, I'm lucky to be able to make my life what I want it to be. Thanks for reminding me.
Also, thanks for reminding me of Shawn Mullins. I love him. I used to have a cd called Soul's Core by him that I listened to all the time.
And, Tawna, we all want to be groped while drinking wine. It's just that you have more courage to say it than we do.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Well said

Even tougher is putting our loved ones through OUR sacrifices (so we can do what we want *clears throat*)

What I miss is my weekly golf game, one of the things I gave up.

Patty Blount said...

For me, it's the household stuff that has to slide. I work full time and at my job, that's usually a 9 or 10 hour day.In fact, there are frequent instances where I don't keep regular hours because I work with a number of international teams. Last week, I had 6:30 AM AND 11 PM conference calls.

When I come home, I want to sit and right. Sadly, when I come home is ALSO when my sister wants to vent about her life, my kids need to be dropped off or picked up somewhere, or the chores have to get done.

Yep. You guessed it. It's the chores that slip.

I do laundry every day, but it sits unfolded in baskets for about a week until I get to it. I have cobwebs on my ceiling I decided to vacuum on Sunday and still haven't gotten to.

Yesterday, I wrote a paragraph. That's all I had time for. That hurts :(

BarbN said...

I agree with Mac-- if you've got kids depending on you, it makes it considerably harder to make some decisions. But I would probably be happier if I expected them to back me up more by being willing to sacrifice for me the way I sacrifice for them. Great post and great timing (for me, and it's all about me, isn't it?)(*blinks innocently*)

chihuahuazero said...

Bread. Eggs. Breaded eggs that are being groped while drinking wine...

kel said...

I work full time and just finished my first novel. To find the time for that, I started to wake up at 4 in the morning. Two hours of writing, an hour at the gym, then off to the day job (teaching). After that, I coach cheer two days a week and just started a youth program. I'm busy as hell but yes, I am doing what I love (I love several things). I am sacrificing time.

Wendy said...

I would love to be able to write full time, but can't at the moment. But I'm working my way up to it!

Kimberly Sabatini said...

(((hugs))) Love you!!!!

Melissa said...

I would love to write full time but such is life. I just try to grab what time I have in between a 9-yr old know-it-all, a 7-yr old diva, a hubby who wants way too much attention and a full-time job that expects me to actually work while I'm there.

NealtorWrites said...

You're a funny woman. Just found your blog. You'd never believe how. What a nice surprise to find myself LTM (not LOL, I'm vehemently against the LOL. Just Laughing To Myself, thank you very much.) at many of the things you say (write). I am working on something in the romance department...genre I mean. I'll leave my dating life out of this. A book. I'm writing a romance related book. So your journey interests me.
Anyway, please keep the updates coming. I look forward to them.

Unknown said...

I'm not sure if I do much sacrifice for writing. It's always been my escape from everything else. Lately I've found myself sacrificing writing to be a better friend, because I get very cranky and dramatic when the writing fails. I tend to sacrifice everything social whenever I have a goal to meet - like work or (like now) doing uni courses. With my chronic ache, I can't neglect exercise, and I can't destress if my chores aren't done.

And I'm really glad you're doing the sacrifices you are. Because your books make me happy, and those feelings have been in short supply the last years. So thank you for that.

Raley Blue said...

For me, the writing is like breathing. If I don't work it in, I'll die. That doesn't mean it's easy, but I don't consider it the ultimate sacrifice. The big thing I gave up was working full time to raise my kids.

This was a huge step because I'd worked full time since I was 14, so "retiring" at age 23, even temporarily was a real departure. But I had worked in Nursing and Early Childhood Ed. and realized my son's autism needed me way more than I needed money. Childhood is temporary. Earning potential is not. Or so I thought.

So, all savings cashed in to put a down payment on the house and pay off the car (that was 7 cars ago) and two Aspie daughters later, I have an accident and become permanently disabled. Enough so that I'll never work full time again. At least not in those fields.

Pain is a very talented life restricter. But I REFUSE to let it take my sense of humor, my time with the kids or anything else I want to do. I work around the pain. Everyday. And no, you don't get used to it, but you can make it your new normal. As far as any of us really knows, you only go around once, so make the most of it. Live, laugh, love. All good medicine. Compromise is a sacrifice, but it's also a freedom.