For seven months, I worked from home, stringing together consulting jobs, trying to work on my book about my grandfather/grandparents. For six of those months, I had writer's block. Nothing I wrote was interesting, not was it even guiding me in a direction toward writing anything interesting. I just wanted to go back to my career in nonprofit management/public policy. Then on March 9, as I rode the subway home from my friend's reading, the outline for a book came to me. Because I struggled with not enough information for a compelling nonfiction book, I would take the few facts I had and use research to make up the rest. Yes, I was attempting fiction. My first drafts were nuggets of ideas. In the past few weeks, I finish the first chapter. I'm very close to finishing the last chapter of part I, which is set in Warsaw from 1927-1939.
I have never felt like I was a real writer. For the first time, when people asked me what I do, I came close to telling them that I was a writer. I loved the hours of research, my notes, and my maps. I loved the sentences that were coming out of me and the scenes that were taking shape. I loved the mostly positive feedback I was getting, and the constructive criticism.* This is what writers do. Instead I said that I was an unemployed person from the nonprofit/public policy world filling my time pursuing my writing hobby while waiting for a job.
Then I got a job. My first day is May 9. I'm excited and nervous, as anyone is when she starts a new phase in life. I think I will learn a lot. It may even help the book, as it is a nonprofit/foundation that aids Holocaust survivors. It is good work that should fulfill the part of me that misses being out in the world and working for positive change in low-income people's lives.
Now, of course, the progress on the book will slow down. Instead of sheer glee at my stroke of luck, I also am sad for the career that is being set aside while I do what I need to do to pay the bills and add to our savings. For the first time, I might have to consider myself a writer with a do-gooder job. It's kind of crazy. I like it.
*If anyone is interested in reading it and offering me feedback, I would love to send it to you!!!