So — this quitting my job thing has been slightly more unsettling than I’d anticipated. I’ve worked steadily since I was fourteen — even earlier if you count babysitting (really, who’d let a 10 year old babysit an infant these days?). Anyhow, I’ve always had jobs. I’ve always known where the next chunk of money is coming in from. There always has been a next chunk of money coming in. Currently, I’ve one outstanding invoice. One.
It’s been a challenge not to panic.
I wasted a couple of weeks spinning my wheels and panicking. Complete with many, many dreams in which I had to move, in some cases to return to graduate school. Dorm rooms. Strange cities. Finding an apartment on no money. It’s been like a nocturnal tour of the first 20 years of my adult life.
I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not like that. The house is paid off. The student loans are paid off. There’s money for the property tax bill next month. There’s money for the few other bills I have. No one is turning off the power. There’s food in the cupboard. It’s not an emergency, this was the plan. Getting to here has been the whole point of the LivingSmall project.
I was on the phone with my writer friend Melissa Clark last weekend — talking about the freelance thing. She’s on the verge of taking the leap as well. “I didn’t work this hard to get to where I can do this, ” I heard myself telling her, “Just to panic after three weeks and take another job.” One of those sentences you hear come out of your mouth, then write down and tack above your desk.
So, this week, a full month after I sent the Cisco computer back to them, I finally sat down, made a daily to-do list, and started making forward progress on my mystery novel manuscript again. I figure I have until the New Year before I have to really start scrambling for work (although I’ve got some work between now and then), and it’s time to step up and take advantage of this opportunity. Three months. X dollars in the bank. It’s the same time/money chunk I had for those two summers in grad school (thanks to a generous friend) that I used to write Place Last Seen. If I did it before, I can do it again.
So, here we go. I have four cords of wood out there and a pantry full of staples. I have a few bills every month, and money to cover them for a bit. How little can I spend? How much can I write?
Also published on Medium.