On a mild Tuesday in November I had a massive, overly dramatic, overly wrought, overly indulgent writerly--'writerly'--breakdown.
I came into the house and pulled the 'manuscript' (read: stack of semi-indulgent, overwrought, overly dramatic, six or seventh draft-edited pages of fiction) out of my Jack Pack (look, I resent that I have to call my lovely green messenger bag my Jack Pack,especially as I don't even watch the show wherein one of the Sutherland men pretends to face the dangers that I faced at work everyday), and I threw in into a drawer.
I can't do it anymore, I whined to Mr. V. I've been working on this thing for two and half years and it isn't working, it's not coming together and I can't look at it another second.
You should take a break, said Mr. V reasonably and I threw my shoe at him, going for 'tortured' and 'bohemian', but really all I got was a confused husband and the suggestion that I make my own damn dinner because now there would be blood in the peas.
I spent a good 6 weeks doing nothing but watching Supernatural. We've discussed it before. It was a bona fide funk. It was ugly. I hid in my room curled up on my bed with my lover laptop and my best friend wine (Please Laptop and Wine, please never leave! I love you! I'll be anything you want me to be and no I don't think we should go out and do stuff, we are so happy right heeeeere!)
Then, some time after Christmas, I began my stumbling ascent. I climbed out of the funk in fits and lurches, and started functioning again: again I was able to carry out conversations, brush my teeth, take interest in something other than the devil ruining the road trip for the brothers.
The beautiful, beautiful brothers. . . with the guns and the gravelly voices and the authority issues. . . hmm? Oh you're still here? Sorry.
I went to Bookstore Job to save the world, but I kept hearing: I want to quit my job to write full time.
It was more than my own little fancy. It was that quiet, deep down voice. I don't know what to call it. Can we call it Hermione? I think she embodies quiet, persistent wisdom. And if there's one thing we know about Hermione, it's that she won't be ignored.
Hermione kept whispering at me to quit my job to write full time, and can I just say that Hermione had never whispered that before? Since I started taking writing seriously, about six years ago, Hermione would sometimes chime in with an image or a bit of dialogue and an occasional--very, very occasional--nudge of encouragement. She would never be like, "You are going to be rich and famous and drinking dollars for breakfast!" but sometimes she would be like, "Writing is good!". You know the Brits, stiff upper lip and all that. I wrote on most Saturday mornings, and sometimes Sunday mornings, and that was enough. Hermione and I were fine. I enjoyed Black Ops, and we needed the income, and I wrote a few hours a week and that was dandy. Hermione wasn't saying crazy things like "Quit your job to make no money!" or "Put on that muumuu and offer to do the Single Ladies dance for your mailman, he will love it!", and it was good.
Now she wouldn't leave me alone. She kept bugging me when I was trying to shelve books and kill terrorists. She nagged me as I washed the dishes and, rather uncomfortably, was fond of appearing while I was in the shower. "Quit your job to write full time or I will tell Dumbledore," she would say. "Stop looking at my nuddy bits you fussy British prat!" I would yell back.
"What?" Mr. V would call from the kitchen. "Who are you talking to in there?"
It was a confusing time.
Look, I told her finally, because she wouldn't shut up. Of course I want to 'write full time'. But 'writing full time' was something I'd always imagined I'd do when I actually became, you know--a writer? A person who wrote and got paid for it. A person with permission from the outside world to take herself seriously. Hermione said pish posh to that, write full time now. And buy some new underpants, what if you had a car accident?
It was time to level with Hermione. So I looked her in the eye and I told her: I can't tell my husband I want to quit my job that pays real money to take up a job that pays no money. I don't make a lot, but my income was paying more than half our rent. We are living paycheck to paycheck here--and I wish Suze Orman would quit yelling at me about that, all accusatory-like, as if it's some sort of shortcoming. I have news for you, Suzy Orman: living paycheck to paycheck isn't easy. It's a friggin accomplishment. Every time I hear Suze excoriating someone for living paycheck to paycheck, as if they have a choice, I want to yell back at her: You spend more in a month on Lady Blazers than I do on groceries for four people. YOU are the one who is doing something wrong.
But I don't yell at her because I hope to one day have a rather handsome Lady Blazer Budget myself.
So what I said to Hermione is this: I cannot possibly tell my husband that I want to quit my job to 'write full time'. I need some help here. Because this just is not something I can ask for.
And that week, Mr. V came home and said these words: I am going to rearrange my schedule and take on a second job so that you can quit your job and have more time to work on your writing.
Obviously, I protested. I told him I couldn't let him do that. What a ridiculous thing to do, quit a real job for a fantasy one. But then Hermione was all like, What the fuh??!? Don't you remember our little conversation over the dirty dishes? Also, I know you're still wearing that underwear you got on clearance in 1997. I am the mouthpiece of the Divine, I am watching you, and I am concerned about your undergarments.
And I realized that I couldn't turn this down.
So that is how it came to pass that last week, I worked my last day at Operation: Bookstore. It was a difficult step to take because it involved doing this thing I was repeatedly instructed not to do as a child: It required me to Take Myself So Seriously. The worst part was, everyone had to SEE me Taking Myself So Seriously, bear witness to my pretentious airs. I had to confess to all my comrades, because I believe in truth, that I was quitting my job to "pursue my writing".
You know who takes themselves so seriously? You know who quits their jobs to "write full time"?
The Douche Kings of the Doucheatrons.
And so I am. A douche.
But comrades, I'm a happy one.
I am Vesuvius and Hermione was wrong about the mailman.