ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE

by Stephen Jay Schwartz

It’s interesting how quickly one goes from “Hey, everything’s great” to “AAAAHHHH! I’m spiraling out of control!!!”

And then, after a bit of trauma, one bounces back.

That’s kinda how my last year has been. I left my day job to take a screenwriting assignment and write novel number three. I rolled the dice on the notion that I could support a family of four on my writing income alone. I hedged the bet by cashing out my 401k. Things looked so good that I took that trip to Ireland with the wife and kids, all the while thinking there’d be opportunities to come. There was another screenwriting assignment or two in the wings. And that TV option for my novels would soon become a network sale, really, it was just a matter of time. And I’d finish that third novel and it would be a six figure acquisition. Yep, it was glory days ahead, for sure.

All the while watching the numbers in my bank account dwindle away.

And then, boom, there it was. Last dollar. Rock bottom. Permission to flip out.

Oh my God…did I leave my day job for this? Was I really going to have to dredge up that old resume and start over again? And how would I revise it? I had been the vice president of a national lighting company–that’s the gig I left when I left. I had written both my novels when I had that job. And yet I couldn’t complete my third novel when I had all the time in the world. Maybe I needed the pressure of not having any time, maybe that’s how I worked.

Well, I didn’t have a choice anymore. Writing would have to take a back seat again.

But how would I sell myself? Would I mention that I was a best-selling author? List all the panels I’ve been on, the awards I’ve received, the reviews? What kind of message would that be to my potential employer? “So you left your last job to pursue a career in writing, and now you expect us to believe that your writing is a hobby?”

I would have to face that question when it came, and I hoped I would be ready.

I decided to de-emphasize my creative side. I wrote my new resume as a two-page story of success in the lighting industry, and I included the period of time I spent as a development executive for film director Wolfgang Petersen. That little bit of “creative” content focused on the success of the films I helped develop. It didn’t really relate to my own creative aspirations. I was working for someone else.

At the very bottom of the resume, under “Special Interests,” I noted that I was an L.A. Times bestselling author. I felt I was taking a chance, but I wanted to land at a place where they understood my creative passion. I hoped they would see my creative drive as an asset.

It takes months to land an executive position; even longer during uncertain economic times. My resume went into circulation, but things weren’t happening quickly enough. I had waited too long, stepped too close to the edge. I didn’t have time to wait things out.

Things got desperate and I found myself taking embarrassing interviews at local restaurants and grocery stores, temp agencies, and even a dog grooming salon. As if any of those options would support my family. I invested time and money into getting a taxi driver’s license, thinking it would be the perfect job for a writer. All that time alone in the car, thinking of ideas, mapping character studies of the strangers I met. I saw Travis Bickle in the mirror, pissed off and ready to set the world on fire. I’ve had just about every crap job in the world and I figured I won’t “make it” until I’ve spent some time behind the wheel of a taxi.

I took all the tests, paid my dues, went through drug-testing and background checks (the most trustworthy guys you’ll ever meet are taxi drivers – no drugs or alcohol and they haven’t been convicted of a felony for at least three years) and then, finally, found a car owner to lease me his vehicle for $350 a week.

After two miserable seven-day weeks, ten hours a day, I ended up making a couple hundred dollars (went right into groceries) after paying off the lease (I still owe the car owner $50). I quit immediately, before I could rack up another $350 debt. I would’ve made more money working part-time at Starbucks.

And it’s not like it was exciting. There was no danger involved. I spent all that time taking little old ladies to their eye appointments. My passengers were the perfect cozy demographics. Although I’ll always relish the ride I had with the narcotics dealer whom I picked up at the Torrance Police Station. I milked him for everything I could. I still can’t believe he’d never seen “Breaking Bad.”

Days of panic, disillusion and depression followed. Borrowing money from friends, family, business associates. Taking an early payment on the screenwriting assignment (foregoing the production bonus that would have come if I had waited), eking out a little more time, a rent payment, an insurance payment, groceries, then back to the bottom again.

And all the time spent on my computer–Monster.com, Indeed.com, Careerbuilders.com, Linkedin…and all the lighting industry head-hunters, and the shylocks with their promises, and the scheisters with their schemes, consultants wanting me to pay for their job-hunting services…

I sent out hundreds of resumes. I called execs I knew from different companies, put the word out that I was looking, looking, looking.

Then all at once a few hits. Phone calls that turned into Skype interviews. I had to pull that suit out of storage. I had to buy a tie. And I faced those question about my writing.

“Writing screenplays and novels sounds so glamorous. Why are you coming back to this industry?”

I had dust off an old joke – “Do you know the difference between a writer and a pizza? A pizza feeds a family of four.” Rim-shot. It took the edge off. I’d continue – “I’m fine writing evenings and weekends. I wrote two novels with a full-time job. No problem.”

Skype interviews led to interviews at corporate headquarters in Florida, Arizona, Ohio, New York.

And then, just a month ago, the right one came through. They looked at the whole package, saw the writer and the salesman as one.

They told me I could lose the tie.

“Really?”

“And the suit.”

“What about…the hair?”

“You can keep the hair.”

They made their offer and I accepted.

Sometimes the magic happens. A good job, good pay, good products, good people. They were out there looking for me, and I was out there looking for them.

It’s a tough balance, making a living and struggling as an artist. I’ve spent much of my life living one or the other, hiding one from the other. When I wrote “Inside the Space Station” for the Discovery Channel I had a full-time day job. I couldn’t tell the day job that I was writing for the Discovery Channel and I couldn’t tell the Discovery Channel I had a full-time day job. I had to live two lives. I don’t ever want to live such a lie again.

And, now that I actually have a good job, with health insurance (it’s been over a year), 401k, expense account, car allowance, company credit card…I can’t just up and leave it for another writing gig. Which means I’m going to have to fit all my writing into that small window of after-hours time. It’s not hard to do if I’m writing a spec novel on my own time. But what if I’m offered another screenwriting assignment, with producers expecting my attention and an immediate turn-around? When I was young I would leave whatever job I had for an opportunity like that, and it would’ve been worth it. That was when I could live on $30,000 a year. Those days are gone.

So I have to make prudent decisions now. And I’ll have to pass on opportunities that don’t meet my needs. Thankfully, I’ve earned a little credit. I don’t have to chase things down as much as I did when I was young. I have work that producers can read–my novels and screenplays–and they can decide if they want to work within my time frame, with my restrictions. They’ll have to accept that I have responsibilities to another employer, and that I value the day job at least as much as I value the opportunity to write on assignment.

Because the truth is, the day job saved my ass.

What’s great about the whole thing is that I’m writing again. I had trouble working on the novel when I was looking for a job. It felt like my writing was taking time away from my search for a job. I began to resent it. My writing, my passion, became the thing that was keeping me from finding a way to support my family.

And now that I’m working, I’m writing. The pressure is off. I don’t have to try to anticipate the market; I don’t have to write something commercial enough to pay all my bills. I can write what I want. Which is how I wrote Boulevard. And how I wrote Beat. Which is not how I’ve been writing my third novel, worrying all the time if it’s commercial enough to “launch my career.” But the truth is that most authors don’t support their families with their writing until they’ve published a half-dozen books or more. Often many, many more.

So, I’m looking at a different time-line now. I’m seeing what I managed to accomplish with just two novels. I’m recognizing how far I’ve come.

Accentuating the positive.

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. Things are good. I might not be Michael Connelly, or Lee Child, or Dennis Lehane, but then again, I’m not Joe Schmo. I’m in the game, I’m on the journey. I’m paying the bills and I’m practicing my art.

I think this is the sound of happiness.

 

On another note, if you’re coming in for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC this weekend, I’ll be speaking on a panel with Jerry Stahl, April Smith and Ned Vizzini, moderated by John Sacret Young, on Saturday, April 21, at 10:30 am, in the Andrus Gerontology Center. The panel is called “Page and Screen.” They left my name out of the on-line schedule, but it’s in the printed schedule. I’m also signing Saturday at the Mysterious Galaxy booth at 2:00, the Sisters in Crime booth at 4:00, and on Sunday at the Mystery Ink booth at 11:00, with Gar Anthony Haywood. There will be a ton of talented authors present, so get your books and get ’em signed! Thanks!

 

34 thoughts on “ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE

  1. Gerald So

    Happy to hear things worked out, Stephen. Best of luck with everything, and if you find yourself writing a poem one day, you know where to send it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. JD Rhoades

    Glad to hear things worked out for you, Stephen. I've had a couple of real good months with the Kindle sales, so good I'm actually running the numbers and seeing if they'd support dropping the Day Job…and then I think, "you know, this could collapse next month." Think I'll hold out a little longer.

  3. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Wow, Steve, I think I had a nervous breakdown just reading this. And then recovered by the end of it. Can I go to bed, now?

    Harrowing. I'm so glad it had a happy ending. Beginning.

    And it's really important that people read it and understand that it is never going to be just ONE writing project or job or gig that supports you. As a working artist you are always going to need multiple streams of income, whether it's ongoing multiple writing projects, a part or full-time job, investments, rental property, WHATEVER. You need to know how to crunch those numbers realistically, and often.

  4. Bryon Quertermous

    Stephen, that is a great story and a great lesson. I've only recently begun to appreciate the creative freedom a writer has when holding down a day job. I used to think you had to suffer for your art and all that romantic nonsense.

    Dusty, I'm so happy to hear that the Kindle sales are good enough for you to even think that quitting the day job might be possible. It's exciting times we live in my friend.

    Alex, I love reading your comments anywhere.

  5. Richard Maguire

    "I might not be Michael Connelly, or Lee Child, or Dennis Lehane…"

    Stephen, maybe not in terms of mega sales. Yet. But in quality? The Haydn Glass books are on a par with the very best in crime writing.

    Congratulations that things have turned around for you. But you're on a roller-coaster ride. Your posts about the journey of one writer are brilliant. I wish you'd turn them into a book and publish on the Kindle.

    (An aside to Alexandra: Thanks for the heads up on Zoe's horsey book, FIFTH VICTIM. I didn't read Zoe's replies to the comments on yesterday's post till this morning. In July I'm being given a Kindle for my birthday. So all the titles by MURDERATI bloggers that I haven't yet read will be downloaded.)

  6. Allison Davis

    You are an inspiration to us all, Stephen, and making me feel better about my few hours (although you are much more productive WITH the day job than I have been)…so now I'm going to get on it and kick it into gear.

    This is part of the trials (as Alex says) — it's never a smooth ride.

  7. Katie Arnoldi

    What a great post, Steve. So honest and inspirational. You made my day. Thank you for writing this.

  8. Lisa Alber

    Wow, I loved reading this. I find it interesting that you're writing better now that you have a day-job. Funny how that goes.

    I've recently started looking for a "real" job too. I quit my day-job back in 2008 because I won a writing grant, and I assumed that I was on my way (at the time I also had an agent), that I would never need a day-job again except for the odd contracting job.

    Back to reality. I don't think I mind, either–which is strange. There's something to be said for being able to relax into a consistent money stream–and health benefits!

    Curious about something: What's your strategy for fitting in the fiction off-hours? Do you get up early? Stay up late?

  9. Blair

    Congrats on the new gig, Stephen. Glad you'll have the peace of mind that providing for your family brings. And can't wait to read the new from-the-heart-take-no-prisoners novel you're now going to write.

    Very inspirational message. Maybe it will get me through the treatment for the midwest hospital commercial that I'm up for that will pay the bills for another couple months until another movie or Super Bowl commercial gig comes in.

    Must agree with Richard though, regarding the "I'm no Michael Connelly, or Lee Child, or Dennis Lehane". You sure as shit are. You are every bit as good.

  10. David Corbett

    Stephen: I have little to add that others haven't said better. But I know how much you love your family and have some idea how stressful this past year must have been from that standpoint alone. So I'm happy for you. Given your background you probably still have more opportunities than many other writers, though as you say you may not be able to take everything that comes your way now. Still, as Richard says, your work stands tall on its own. Never forget that. And I'm looking forward to hearing progress reports on novel #3.

  11. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Gerald – you are my poem connection. I actually have a crate of poetry I want to go through, touch up and polish, and someday publish an ebook of the stuff. Maybe I'll talk to you when I delve into that project, figure out the best way to proceed with such a venture.

    Dusty – Wow, those numbers would have to be damn good for you to consider dropping your day job. Lawyers don't grow on trees. (There are SO many good responses to that statement; I'll let someone else do the damage). Unfortunately, I can't do anything with ebooks because I only have the two novels, which are published traditionally and still in print. I have no back list. And I'm not sure I want to write directly for the ebook market quite yet.

  12. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Alex – Boy, I wish I owned rental property. Or, like Andrew Peterson, owned a string of self-storage businesses. I've let the myth of the film business overwhelm me – the dream that one spec screenplay will bring in a million dollars. Novelists and poets and playwrights are simply more practical about running their lives because they don't have that "lottery winner" mentality. It really only exists in the film business – although we've all heard the stories of a first-time novelist hitting the jackpot. It's taken me thirty years to shed that dream. That's the problem with being Peter Pan, I guess.

    Bryon – yeah, I've gone in for the suffering artist myself. Sometimes it's necessary. I had no problem doing it when I was young. But having the family changed all of that. Sure, I could live in my car if I had to, but I ain't gonna make my wife and kids suffer that fate.

    Richard – man, those are kind words, thank you. They mean quite a lot to me. And, yes, I'd love to go through all my blogs one of these days and turn them into an ebook. I also wrote a diary while I was writing Boulevard – it's raw and intense and I had intended to publish it as a companion piece to the book, like what Steven Soderbergh did with his diary for "Sex, Lies and Videotape." I think I would incorporate the diary into that ebook. Someday.

  13. Vince

    I've got little to add to what the other commenters have said. I just wanted to tell you, Stephen, how much I appreciated this piece and your honesty. Here's wishing you continued good luck.

  14. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Gar – you're never too old, and you couldn't have made a better choice. : )

    Allison – you more than anyone know how it's been. And you know your part in my success. The greater inspiration is that there are some people in this world who put themselves out for others in great, meaningful ways. They reach out to provide more than moral support and a shoulder to cry on. These people are rare, and they are appreciated. There's an old, Jewish story about the Lamed Vovnik, a group of 36 truly good and just people who exist in the world at any given time in history. They are not connected to each other and don't even know they are one of the 36. It is said that the world survives because they exist. In my life, you're a Lamed Vovnik.

    Katie – thanks! I can't wait to read your new novel, girl. I'm itching to get my hands on it.

  15. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Lisa – I'm glad my story resonated with you. Your story resonates with me, too. Getting that writing grant and agent, I bet you saw the stars! I hope you didn't buy a new car on credit. I've always put that cart before the horse. I'm a slow learner, I guess. To answer your question: I write after work, at cafes. I'll usually write from 6 to 10 pm at my local cafe, then go to a 24 hour diner if I absolutely must continue on. I'll work longer hours on the weekends, if I can. Sometimes ten to twelve hours. My business jobs always take me on the road, so I'll have hotel time to write or cafes in different cities where I don't have the usual distractions of trying to write at home – ie, having to choose writing over spending time with my wife and kids. More recently I've chosen to be with the family. Writing is a jealous lover; it wants all of your time and doesn't care who gets hurt. Sometimes I have to tell it who's boss.

    Blair – you're living the same life, my friend – project to project. Doing the things you have to do to survive. I hope you get that Superbowl commercial. And then, of course, the next step – another feature film. You're my Scorsese, brother.

  16. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    David – yeah, I think I've been counting on that film background of mine to bail me out. If I only wrote novels I'd have a better perspective on my chances for financial success. The whole film thing is this crazy monkey wrench in the machine. And the funny thing is that as soon as I get back on my feet and committed to sticking with a day job no matter what, I'll get that million dollar assignment. Well, that would be an easy decision, though. The harder decision is if I got a $150,000 assignment. That would be great, but if it was the only writing money I got for five years it wouldn't be worth leaving a good day job. Those are the tough ones. Anyway, thanks for the compliments, brother.

    Vince – thanks for your words, they mean the world to me. I often wonder if I can handle being so vulnerable in these blogs, and sometimes it's hard to write them. Then comments like yours come in and I realize it's the right thing to do.

  17. Diana Rab

    Stephen, I am SO proud of you in more ways than one. As one of your readers said, 'what a harrowing story.' You are brave and brilliant and I bow to your successes. You deserve all good things. In terms of feeling vulnerable in writing this blog — you know how I feel about this — 'let it rip,' The ability to get down to your own emotional truth is not only very healing but makes for extremely compelling reading material.

    Congrats on all and I look forward to reading #3 posted on the LA Times Bestseller list.

    Warmly,
    Diana

  18. Sarah W

    Lately, even though I love my day job, I've been resenting the hours spent there instead of writing. I would love to go part time, but I'm the primary breadwinner and/or insured for the family and I simply can't justify it. So, naturally, I've been grumbling and whining instead. Poor me . . .

    But I put a sock in it damned quick around the fifth or sixth paragraph up there. Thanks for supplying some perspective, Stephen.

  19. Reine

    Stephen, I am so glad you wrote this. It's the kind of testimonial that moves people to truth while maintaining their vision for themselves.

    I've been fortunate in finding sources of support for my own writing. Perhaps it's easier in "the academy" than in the world of creative fiction writing. The stability of my academic job, now that I'm on disability leave, supports my fiction writing. As you offered though, discipline seems much harder without the need to schedule around JOB. It was always easier to get the 3.9 during those school terms when I took 24 credits. Couldn't do it without scheduling and working hard all the time. Twelve unit, light terms, though? No. Too much time to do nothing!

    Stephen, you are engaging and brilliant, a damn genius writer. [I would love to see some urban poetry from you, crime fiction poetry, up there with my secret love, Gerald So.

    PS: Beware of little old ladies going to eye doctor appointments. We are young men in disguise.

  20. Lisa Alber

    I did see the stars! I was so optimistic! But, by the end of 2008 the econony had gone kerplooey…It's been a struggle ever since.

    This is going to sound strange but I equate getting a day-job with going on antidepressants. After my dad died, I become hugely depressed–the debilitating kind. I struggled in therapy. A year later, my therapist said, I think you should go on antidepressants for awhile. Basically to give my poor brain a vacation from the struggle. A year later, the depression lifted on its own, and I went off the pills…So the strategy worked.

    I figure a little vacation from the money struggles, and from, as you mentioned in the post, beating myself up to write something obviously commercial (land that agent!) will help in the same way. I imagine when I'm more relaxed, my fiction struggles will lift just like my depression lifted.

    I didn't mean to write all that. I really meant to say that I admire anyone who can work a long day and then still have 3 or 4 hours worth of mental energy to write! I also admire your commitment to family too–such a delicate balance.

  21. Sheri Hart

    There is always so much heart and honesty in your posts, Stephen. I love reading them.

    I have a love/hate relationship with my day job (copywriter), too. It steals so much time and saps me creatively, so that I'm burnt out at night.

    But I recently lost a client and suddenly had the gift of extra hours of writing time. Has this helped my productivity? Not at all. I have had to grudgingly admit that the busier I am, the more productive I am.

    I'm trying to think more positively about it, like you. My day job provides security and the freedom (from guilt) to write. It alleviates stress, which is always a creativity killer for me.

    Unfortunately, the family suffers. Because I'm either working, writing, or longing to be writing. I'm working harder on being "in the moment" with them. It's tough.

  22. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Diana – yes, you are definitely one to write from the heart. You don't even hide behind fiction, you just put it right out there. Did you see that I'll be on a panel with Jerry Stahl tomorrow? I've also asked the Festival to have copies of "Writers on the Edge" available for my signing. I'm looking forward to meeting Jerry for the first time. Thanks again for your wonderful words.

    Sarah – I cracked up when I read your line about putting a sock in your whining after reading the fifth or sixth paragraph of my blog. I read that to my wife and she laughed as well. Yeah, it's good to have perspective. I'm lucky I have the opportunity to support myself. There's a lot of other folks in the U.S. and abroad who slip through the cracks and end up homeless. Through the help of others and through my business background I was able to escape that fate. But it was touch and go. I really consider myself lucky.

    Reine – The little old ladies are actually young men in disguise? I don't know which to fear more. I'm with you on that work-pressure thing. Why couldn't I finish a novel in a year? That drives me crazy. I wrote Beat in a year with a full-time day job. Oh, I do have some gritty, urban poetry in Gerald So's most recent publication of The Line-Up. Check it out if you get the chance.

    Lisa – boy, that depression stuff is the worst. I've never thought I was the type to go in and out of depression, but now I know I am. My big worry-button is money. My whole world falls apart when I can't pay the bills. So, this job will probably correct my depression in a heartbeat.

    Sheri – being in the moment is tough. Even when I've got time with the family I find myself either thinking about the writing or, now, thinking about what I need to do for the day job. And I know the kids are getting older, and I don't want to be that parent that wishes I'd spent more time with the kids before they left the house. Cats in the cradle and all that.

  23. Tom

    Congrats on chasing and finding that safe harbor we all need, one way or another. Peter Pan doesn't take of his family that way. A mensch does.

    I'll echo the sentiment: there's no difference between your work and The Bigs in quality. Maybe they were in the right elevator at the right time, but that's all. A lot of them don't write as well as you, and damn few are as unsparing of their protagonists.

  24. Chip Jacobs

    I learned so much about my own pain and second guessing in this post,
    Stephen, that I'm wondering how you could fictionalize it into a book …
    when you're not paying the bills. The adventure and excitement can often
    turn into money woes, that self questioning of whether we know what makes us
    happy, a free-fall stomach that says WTF … is the writing worth it? I
    always come back to yes, though my net worth shakes its head. That you
    accomplished all you did while working full day jobs is pretty remarkable.
    That you were so refreshingly honest in a dishonest town about your newfound
    confidence is at a higher pixelation. Dilemmas — sometimes they're our
    friends. Thanks for colorizing your career like this. Hope you kick ass
    wherever you go, because you opened some keeya on the truth most don't wanna
    reveal. Wanna find a new screenwriter? Order coffee in Hwood. And screw the
    big names. You've got your soul. Chip

  25. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Thanks, Chip – I know you've had your share of woes as a journalist and author, too. It ain't easy out there.

  26. KDJames

    Stephen, just last week I decided I need to change my attitude about the day job and stop whining and resenting it (easier said than done) and start telling myself how grateful I am to have an income at a time when so many people are struggling to find ANY work. Because as much as I'd love to quit and not "have to" work, I suspect my productivity would plummet from eeking out a few hundred words here and there even though I'm exhausted to absolute zero. I'm afraid that if I had all the time in the world to write a novel . . . that's precisely how long it would take. Not that I'm exactly setting speed records as it is, but whatever.

    I'm so relieved for you, and for your family, that you found an employer — especially one willing to let you keep the hair! Job hunting when you don't have one is such a demoralizing experience, even in a good economy.

    Enjoy the panel/signing this weekend. I hope a ton of fans turn out to see you. Can't think of anyone more deserving of some good times for a change.

    And stop with the "I'm not them" nonsense. They're not you. That kind of admiration is a two-way street, babe. You're not exactly siting all alone, unremarkable and unnoticed, in a cul-de-sac of mediocrity. Sheesh.

  27. Dee

    It cracks my heart a little to hear that you, Stephen, with all your talent and proven track record can't "make it" as a full time writer. What hope is there for the less able? Is it really luck? But so glad to read that the writing is "back".

  28. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    KD – yeah, I think folks are misinterpreting my comment about me not being Connelly, Child and Lehane. I meant that I don't have the name recognition and the output; that I don't have enough of a following to live off my writing yet. But that I'm also not someone who hasn't started the process – so I'm in the game. I certainly wasn't comparing talent, either way. We're all different writers with different styles. I think they're more polished perhaps, because they've been doing it a hell of a lot longer than I have.

    Dee – I'm trying not to define it as "make it" or "not make it" as a full-time writer. If I was living alone without a family and if I could live on, say, $50,000 a year, I could probably write full-time. I'd manage to piece together enough work to keep it going. A good friend of mine who is an author told me that he got really good advice from another author – he was told that he shouldn't quit his day job until he had banked two years worth of his current salary. That's banked – in the bank, not "coming", not in-the-mail. Because he would have to expect to live off that money for two years. I think it's good advice for aspiring authors. At this point I don't think it's worth it to leave a good, steady day job unless the writing is a sure thing – like, if I were hired onto staff of a TV series. Even then, when a series is canceled, a writer has to find another series, and if he isn't well established he could end up in the unemployment line for a very long time. It's a bitch of a life, being a writer. But it's what I am and I'll be writing until the day I die.

  29. PD Martin

    So glad everything worked out in the end, Stephen. Sounds very scary!!!

    One of my students last year quit her day job to finish her novel – then expecting to not have to go back to the day job. Scary. It's always good to hear about the REAL side of being an author ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Naomi Hirahara

    Finally got a chance to read your post, Stephen. So well written. We writers can all relate. I pick up seasonal work and then take breaks to devote to creative writing — but then we are a two-income family with no dependents. Life and other work experiences, I believe, inform our writing and sometimes make us better human beings. It was great to sit with you under a shady tree on the campus of USC on Saturday. Best of luck to you! I know that third book will be awesome.

  31. Marina Sofia

    Came to this a little late, but it made for very compelling reading. Glad to hear that things worked out. Am struggling at the moment with duty vs. passion, so it's good to hear your thoughts on it.

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