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!