What Is Courage Now?

The above is the title of a filk song I like.  Basically, it asks the question “When is courage really courage?”  In writing, I’m often faced with this question in my career.  I had to find my courage the first time I presented my pages to a critique group.  Again, when I sent that first finished manuscript to contest.  And, again to an editor.  But I’ve never had to face it more often than when I ask myself, “When are you going to quit your day job?”

When I have a couple of days like the past two…where I worked two over-time shifts without a break and it takes me until the evening the day after to recover enough to be able to even THINK of writing, my courage is as a lion.  Last night, as I drove home, I honest to God thought about calling my boss’ voice mail and leaving a message that I wouldn’t be coming back.  Of course, by the time I got home, I was too focused on getting to bed to follow through and in the light of the day, I faced my upcoming mortgage payment.

What happened to my courage?  All my life, I’ve had the value system taught to me by my parents.  When you have financial responsibilities, you took the best job you could to pay those debts.  And I’ve always stuck to this, especially when I was raising my children.  But I know other authors who once they had some sales, quit the day job and live on their writing.  They had mortgages (or rent), utility payments, and kids just like me.  I’ll admit a lot of them had husbands with jobs, but there were some just like me.  Where did they get that courage?

I never considered losing the security of my nursing career when my children were living at home, but what about when they were adults, out on their own?  Why couldn’t I downsize my living style and go part-time so I’d have more time to write.  Or take my courage in my hands and step off in the unknown and attempt to live totally on whatever I earned as a writer like Peggy Fielding?  What about now?  Am I being a responsible citizen, supporting myself or am I just to cowardly to take a chance at my age?

What is courage now…that I’m at the end of nursing career?  Should I take that chance now?  After all, what’s the worse that can happen?  I bet I’d look cute pushing that shopping cart once I’m evicted!


9 thoughts on “What Is Courage Now?

  1. Jackie,

    This is a TOUGH one. Until you have a guarantee of money/advances coming in, it’s very hard to quit a paying ‘day job’ to write full time. I’ve always thought it took a real leap of faith to do it. One of the most prolific authors I know did it by selling magazine articles… she’d take pictures and write stories for magazines to pay the bills while she worked on her novels. spw

    • At one time, I thought about freelancing articles, but was always afraid that it would take up too much of my writing time. Or maybe I was afraid it wouldn’t pay for the lifestyle I was used to. Who knows?

  2. It’s a scary step – to know you have to ‘produce’ or go hungry and/or homeless. It becomes business and we all know business isn’t fun. (Right?)

    I have my hubby to lean back on, which takes the pressure off my writing. That isn’t necessarily a good thing, though. A bit of pressure can keep you moving towards your goal. Publication. Maybe set yourself a goal to write and sell enough to pay the electric bill for a few months. Then add the water bill and groceries. You’ll feel so good about ‘partially’ supporting yourself with your writing that you’ll produce even more. Won’t that be great?! Hmm. That sounds like a good plan for myself. Glad you thought of it, Jackie! 😉

    • That’s a good idea, Linda! Except I’m such an impulse buyer, especially books, I’m not sure how successfull I’d be.

  3. I never had a regular job to quit; I was a stay-at-home mom when I sold my first book, so I didn’t have to face this question.

    But I’ll tell you, there are times I wish I had another income to count on.

    I admire Miss Peggy tremendously for supporting herself on her writing all this time. Not many people can do that.

    Linda’s plan sounds like a good one. (By the way, I’ve been told that if you’re freelancing, you can get paid waaay more if you provide the photos than if you’re just doing the writing part.) And once you make a go of it, you just set your schedule: contracted short stuff during these hours, book during those.

    But you WOULD look awful cute with a shopping cart. 🙂

    • When I was at the medical school, one of my students and I used to say often . . . “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” (by John Wayne)

      • The Duke was always a hero of mine. Maybe a little too sexist, but you always knew what he stood for and that he wouldn’t back down despite the odds.

  4. There have been many times when I have had to make a decision…I need eggs, but this mAGAZINE is calling my name so I buy the magazine (or book.) However, you have only to look at me and you can see that plenty of food has passed my lips.

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