To have enough time and money to quit pretending you care about your day job and pursue your passion instead. That freedom is every creative’s dream, isn’t it?
I can tell you, the novelty of it wears off pretty quickly.
Years ago, much like every other budding writer in the history of mankind, I used to daydream about how it would be like to write full-time. But I didn’t have the guts to quit my job, nor the energy to write as much as I should. So, I did what any responsible adult would do and tried to juggle more than I could handle. Dreams are nice, but a mortgage is inevitable.
And then stuff happened; some good, some bad. And before I knew it, we were moving to Berlin for my wife’s work.
I left a six-figure corporate job with a full year’s pay as severance and decided to pursue a life of purpose, of writing and editing full-time. It was an easy decision to make. Senseless, but easy. At the time, my editing business started picking up steam, which meant I could make enough money to continue living a good life, and if, by chance, everything went to pieces, I still had my severance to fall back on. I felt scared but out of excuses.
Half a year of freedom later, I can tell you it is hugely overrated.
First, I miss the office life and all the small joys and frustrations that came with it. The quarantine made me realize how much I miss being among familiar faces, even if all we talked about was the pointlessness of all the corporate reshuffles. I miss doing small favors like helping people with a presentation or preparing them for a difficult interview.
Second, there’s a cost to this new freedom. Sure, I can go and work from anywhere I please (well, maybe not since the lockdown), but that also means work follows me around wherever it pleases. Moreover, my livelihood is tied to my creative output. I need to get up every day, write, write, write, then edit, edit, edit. And, once I’m done, there’s no pat on the back, no applause, no perky cherubs showering me with golden glitter; only my slightly dusty keyboard thanking me for wearing off the keys a bit more. Nor does the work doesn’t end there. I need to get out there, find new clients, pitch articles to magazines, and attend a few dozen other tasks that come with running a business.
The other day, I shared this observation with my wife, and she told me I got exactly what I wanted. This was how living the writing dream looked like in practice. It came at a price I didn’t recognize until I had to pay.
To be clear, I’m nowhere near where I want to be, which is unfortunate because getting here involved an awful lot of hard work, but… I would do it all over again.