How My Non-Writing Jobs Help Support My Writing

So, apparently, I was kidding when I said I wanted to blog consistently.

No. That’s not true. I do. I just kept being busy and failing to make it a priority. So here I am. Making it a priority.

Something I started thinking about this week is the two part-time jobs I currently work at. I’m a secretary for a guy who sells insurance, which means a lot of office work and organizing and sending out promotional mailings and calling the home office to ask brusque East-coast ladies about people’s beneficiaries and loan amounts. I’m also a cashier at a Hy-Vee (which, for those of you not in the midwest, is like the mother-of-all-grocery-stores).

I reflected on how those two other jobs take up so much of my time, drain so much of my energy, and tend to make the writing job feel more like…well, like a hobby. Which is sad. But I challenged myself to think of it differently by asking – Are there any ways my non-writing jobs can support my writing job? I concluded that there were, so I decided to share them in case there’s anyone else in the same boat – writing and working and wanting to be able to write more.

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Boredom

Boredom is actually a really useful tool. It allows your brain to wander off to more interesting, creative things during tasks that don’t require you to be fully present – like putting stamps on 200 envelopes or ringing up fifty cans in a row. Without boredom, a person might not actually have any mental motivation to brainstorm or problem solve.

I hesitated to list this as a positive because what I’ve been working on most throughout 2018 is being more in the moment and less in my head. I wondered if it was actually a bad thing to let boredom take me out of the present. However, this week I came up with two ideas for blog posts (including this one) while I was at work, so I concluded that a little bit of boredom does actually support me as a writer, which is a very good thing.

 

Money

Let me be perfectly honest here. I am nowhere close to supporting myself with my writing. And that’s okay. Really. Because everyone has to start somewhere and no two people’s career paths are the same. It’s only been a year since I published my first book. I’m working on my next one. I’ve got time.

In the meantime, I have bills to pay, meals to eat, and I would rather not move back in with my parents. My two part-time, not-what-I-want-to-do-for-the-rest-of-my-life jobs enable me to live (and live independently) while I figure this whole writing thing out.  Money is a necessity in life, and while my goal is to eventually be able to support myself by writing, I’m grateful to be employed at two decent jobs where there’s security and even potential for growth.

 

Conversations

My boss at my secretary job will occasionally just sit back and talk to me about politics, theology, ethics, and wild mushrooms. I love when he gets in a chatty mood. I’ve learned a lot and gotten some real inspiration from our conversations. Just today we had a lengthy discussion about grief and how to talk to someone who is grieving. 

At Hy-Vee, I will potentially talk to hundreds of people throughout the day. While it’s true a lot of those conversations range from banal to unpleasant, they still open me up to another person’s perspective. Every person I meet could inspire a new book character or contribute to an existing one. While working as a cashier, I have been taught a brief history of the Easy Bake oven, been told a slightly inappropriate story about Sir Lancelot, been offered a job as a face model (which I regret to say I declined because I’m still battling a fear of new experiences) and have had a woman offer to set me up with either(!) of her single sons. Quality story material.

 

People Watching

I also get to study the mannerisms, facial expressions, and movements of people as they perform the very human task of shopping. Often times, I’m bored and sour and wish I could be at home doing anything else, and I forget to pay attention. But let me encourage you (and me) to pay attention. You never know what interesting or weird or wonderful things might be waiting to be discovered. Like a couple absent-mindedly touching each other’s arm or back as they shop. Or a little girl asking her dad if they can get a bouquet of flowers for her mom. Or a sweet, slightly shy man who comes in almost every afternoon and must be a good cook based on what he buys. Or a couple of middle-school boys having the most low-key fight ever so their mom doesn’t notice them punching each other across the cart. Stories are everywhere – you just have to be looking for them. 

 

Connections

I actually got my secretary job because of my writing job. My now-boss’s wife was directing a play that I had written for a local homeschool group. He was looking for a secretary, and it occurred to his wife that I might be a good candidate – if I had time to write a whole play I probably had a lot of free time (I didn’t, but that’s neither here nor there) and I must be good at typing. So she e-mailed me asking if I would be interested in a secretary position. They interviewed me and hired me within the next week. Just this week, my boss asked me if I’d be interested in a potential writing job with a friend of his. I don’t know if anything will come of that, but it’s a possibility. Another example – last year I sold several copies of my book to coworkers at my Hy-Vee job. You never know what kind of connections you might find at a fine-but-not-what-I-want job.

So there you have it. Just a few of the ways I found that my non-writing jobs actually do support my writing job. Yes, those jobs take up a lot of my time. Yes, they often wear me out to the point that I don’t have the mental energy to actually write at the end of the day. But this is my life right now. Those jobs are supporting the life I will have someday – next month, next year, or whenever it comes together. For now, they are helping build me into the writer and the person I will be. And for that, I am most certainly grateful.

Thanks for reading, God bless!

Clare

More Like This:

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How I Journal – Prayer In Spite of Anxiety

Anxiety, Gratitude & Self-Compassion

Late in the day, but here is my post, as promised. I’m currently committed to doing a blog post every Tuesday and Friday, and today my little dinosaur-themed reminder went off on my phone, telling me that this is a blog post day.

Today was weird. So was yesterday. I had a horrible hair day that turned my self-confidence into a little pile of mush, I learned that a friend’s father passed away, I learned a man from my parish also passed away, I didn’t get enough sleep, I ate too much sugar, and my roommate has left town for the weekend.

I feel troubled, disoriented, anxious, not myself. I’m reflecting very hard on life and death. Everything feels too scary and hard right now.

As I thought about what I could possibly bring myself to post while I’m feeling all these messy, complicated things, I decided this was what I needed to write.

Here is a list of things I’m grateful for, and some reasons to be compassionate towards myself. Maybe my lists will help you. Maybe they will prompt you to write your own.

Right Now I Am Grateful For…

  • This Nature’s Truth ‘Happiness’ essential oil blend I just got.
  • These growing pains. All I have grown and will grow into.
  • The gift of writing that God has given me.
  • Hope. This hope that what is broken can come back together, what is messy will be beautiful, and that I know who I am and where I’m going, no matter how lost I feel in this moment.
  • The fact that Joe and Tweetie will be back in town this weekend. I’ve missed them.

Reasons to Be Compassionate Towards Myself…

  • You only just moved. The change is catching up with you. You are adjusting to your new place and in some ways a new life.
  • Death is scary. It’s sad. Don’t let it become an anxiety that eats you up inside. You can use this awareness of how fragile and uncertain life is to foster gratitude, love, and mindfulness.
  • It’s okay to feel disoriented and not like yourself. You are changing and growing. Growing can be painful. But you have changed and grown before; you will come out better and more beautiful in the end. Eventually, you will feel like yourself again, even if she is someone different in the future.
  • God’s got you, and you are where you’re supposed to be.
  • Life is always changing. Tomorrow is a new day. You will be okay.

 

What are you grateful for? What are some reasons to be more self-compassionate? Thanks for reading, new post coming Tuesday. God bless,

Clare

 

Other Posts On Anxiety:

A Ride Home

Winter

Journal Entries 1

How I Journal – Prayer In Spite of Anxiety

Blogmas 2017 – Day 31/31 – 2018 Goals Pt. 2

Happy Feast of the Holy Family!

Today is the last day of Blogmas 2017. It’s been a wild ride of a December for me, but on December 1st I set out  to write a blog post everyday in Decemeber. Did I accomplish that? No. No, I did not. But I did write 24 blog posts (including this one). I’ll try again next year, but overall, I’m happy with what I accomplished for Blogmas 2017.

Without further ado, here is a revised list of goals for 2018. I’m sure this will continue to change and grow as we get into the new year, but right now, on December 31st, 2017, these are my hopes and aspirations.

2018goals2

  • Learn hand-lettering
  • Go on 3 dates (?)
  • MOVE OUT.  Check!
  • Publish 3 books
  • Actually try to learn Spanish
  • Travel 2 new places, anywhere.
  • NaNoWriMo 2018
  • Cut down/get all my stuff in neat and tidy order.
  • Create a nice summer wardrobe
  • Exercise somehow
  • Save $3000!
  • Pay off loan woot woot!
  • Road trip with friends?
  • BLOG CONSISTENTLY – Currently my plan is to post 2-3 times a week, but if I can get into a rythym I’ll aim for more posts a week.
    ADDING:
  • Write 1,000 words a day.
  • Continue learning how to cook.
  • Learn how to eat with chopsticks! Just for fun.
  • Write and shoot a short film. This has been an aspration of mine for a long time and I’d finally like to go for it.
  • Write two short plays. I love writing plays and it’s been over a year since I’ve written one. Time to change that. Plus, I was asked last night if I’d write a play for the homeschool group my younger siblings are with, so that’s some good motivation.
  • Continue going to counseling and work on building my confidence and self-esteem.
  • Discern the next steps for my life, particularly come August 2018. My roommate will very likely be moving at that time so I will have to decide if I want to stay here or move again, myself.
  • Go back through my old journals, particularly from 2013-2015. This is a very personal one, but I went through the hardest times of my life over those two years. I know it’s time to go back and see where I was so I can truly appreciate where God has brought me.
  • Read, every day. There are so many books I want to read so I need to commit and just dive in. I’m thinking at least one chapter or ten pages a day, I’ll see what I’m best able to stick to.
  • Say yes to more new things. I often just pass up oppurtunities to learn new games, listen to new music, see new movies, go new places, meet new people. I will make honest efforts in the new year to be humble enough to give new things a try.
  • Pray. Every single day. No expections. I know by now that this is the most important thing in my life. I need God, and prayer is my relationship with Him. Even if all my other goals go out the window, this must be a constant in my life.

Alright, Happy New Year everyone! God bless you and have an amazing 2018!

Clare

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Check out all of Blogmas 2017!

 

Blogmas 2017 – Day 25/31 – Merry Christmas

Christmas is here! Hurray! So far I’ve gotten to wake up to my first Christmas in my own apartment, talk to my older sister who is out in Arizona (where she is freezing to death because it’s 48 degrees, poor thing), had a delicious lunch, and played with my three youngest siblings.

As I sat down to write a blog post just now, I went back to my tumblr to see if there were any memories from Christmases past that I wanted to share. This is what I found.

12/23/16

Can you ever just tell when someone is painfully lonely? Tonight I waited on an elderly gentleman who just started telling me about himself. He began by saying he’d been doing his own grocery shopping for 19 years. Eventually he said he was divorced. He just kept coming back to his main point – that he did everything for himself – his cooking, cleaning, doing his laundry, everything. Because he was ALONE, and when you get divorced, people really come down hard on you. At first I was annoyed, because it made me uncomfortable. What am I supposed to do with your troubles, sir? I’m just here to ring up your groceries. But I looked at him and I realized – this man is LONELY. I asked him if he would get to see any family for Christmas. He very adamantly said no, because, like he said, when you get divorced, people really come down hard on you, even though they don’t know the whole story. I told him that was too bad, when people decide to take sides with something like that. He said they do, they really do. I listened to him and I said what I could to just let him know I was happy to be talking to him. He opened a window into his life, and I saw the story of a man whose friends and family sided with his wife when they got divorced, and so he was left alone in the world. As I wished him a Merry Christmas and watched him go, I said a prayer for him. I recognized in him a great hunger to be seen, known, loved – a hunger I couldn’t fill. I couldn’t be a friend to this old man. I could only be a very kind, helpful cashier at a grocery store to him. I hope my kindness made his day a little brighter. 

His name is Larry. Please pray for him, and everyone who is isolated or feels alone this Christmas. I pray they will all receive comfort from the Christ Child. 

Thank you, God bless. 

Clare

I’m glad I wrote this down. It’s easy to forget moments like these, important moments, where God reaches into our lives and touches our hearts, teaching us to love a little bit more like He does.

Something I learned throughout Advent was that God truly meets us in the middle of our mess. Jesus was born into a messy world that was so unprepared for Him, Mary had to give birth to Him in a stable. But still He came. He came and made the stable, the manger, the mess, sacred. Worthy of Himself.

As He does to our hearts when we welcome Him in, regardless of the straw and the cow poop and all the other things filling us up to capacity. Whatever space we make for Him, He will come and fill and make beautiful.

I pray Larry, wherever he is this year, will find Christ in his mess.

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I pray the same for all of you.

Merry Christmas!

Clare

 

Check out the rest of Blogmas 2017

Blogmas 2017 – Day 3/31 – A Love Letter to Advent

Dear Advent,

For a lot of my life, I hated you. Not exactly true — I didn’t hate you, I was afraid of you, and fear likes to masquerade as hate. It’s because every year during the first couple weeks of Advent we talk about the Second Coming, the end times. I know people who love hearing about that — it even gives them hope. For me, it was almost debilitating how much it frightened me. I don’t know how my head and my heart learned to associate you and the end of time with so much fear, but it did. 

Slowly, over the last few years, there’s been healing. There’s been relearning. There’s been an overflowing of God’s mercy towards me that has taught me that I matter, that God knows me and loves me personally and wills my good. At this point in my life, there is still fear. But just a tiny bit stronger than the fear is hope.

Nothing makes sense without love. Without knowing that God loved me, you were just something to remind me to be afraid, very afraid, that I better shape up because that was my only hope.

But I am loved. Infinitely. Wisely. Unselfishly. And that puts you in perspective.

God came to us as a helpless baby. He will come again as a mighty King. That is what we’re waiting for.

Today I reflected on something I have only recently learned — that you are a season of joyful waiting. Waiting is not something I typically associate with joy. But I thought about women are pregnant, waiting to meet their new baby. That waiting may involve sorrow, uncertainty, fear, and suffering. Still, what they wait for makes the waiting worth it. 

What we wait for is beautiful. What we wait for is good.

Thank you for coming around every year to remind me of that.

Love,

Clare

A Love Letter to God (Love Letters, 1)

Dear God,

Thank you. Thank you for loving me to here, for loving me into existence, for loving me first. Everything I have and am is because of you.

I am still only getting to know you and, even after a lifetime, I feel like I will still not know you very well. You are so deep and wide, so big, and I’m so little. I feel like I will spend my whole life mesmerized by the prints on your thumb, all the while thinking it was your face.

And yet, when I get to Heaven, when I see you face to face, I still believe I’ll recognize you. I may be afraid and trembling, but you’ll reach out and caress my cheek with your thumb, and I’ll know. All along, you were there, holding me.

I don’t deserve it. The perfect care you have taken of me all my life, your faithfulness, your sunshine and your stars — everything is a gift and all I can do is sit back and whisper, “Thank you.”

And somehow, it is enough. Somehow, I am enough. You see me coming from a distance and you run the rest of the way. You have waited through all of time and eternity to love me, so I will just stand still and let myself be loved.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Love,

Clare