Day 66 Reporting – 2,024 Words/Day Process Log – Turning Pro – No Off Ramps

Continuing with my thoughts on turning pro. Turning pro means there are no off ramps and I’m someone who is always looking for an off ramp or looking for an exit.

That could mean that I sit facing the entrance of a restaurant, checking for all the entrance and exits before sipping the complementary water. This could mean before going on a hike with a group for the first time, I know exactly how I can detach from said group or I make sure that if I’m not having a good time, the time I spend with them is limited.

I don’t sign up for a class unless I know that I’m ready to quit it if I don’t fit in (like Tai Chi when everyone knew each other and tolerated my presence, but not much more than that) or yoga (when the group and instructors were awesome but my wrist started bothering me and I could not trust myself not to push myself too far).

Nothing is forever. I am entitled to nothing. And I move that way.

When I started my public service career, I used the same philosophy. Though some might think that working in the public/non-profit space guarantees a job, I know that is not so. I’ve seen coworkers enter the work building in the morning under their own power swinging their lunch bag only to leave that afternoon being escorted out by the building’s security guard. Back then, folks who were laid off weren’t even allowed to take anything from their office that they didn’t bring with them that day.

My off ramps came in terms of retirement benefits. Because even though a position in the public sector isn’t guaranteed, my comfort came from the fact that it is typically hard to be blindsided by a reduction in force. Those take time. Programs can be cut by the legislative body, but again, budgets are public information. The choice to work in the public sector was a choice because a writing career is wonky.

Some off ramps for the job go like this:

  1. Probation Period
  2. Eligible for Pension
  3. Vested 401k

I put this same mindset when it came to writing. I would give myself arbitrary guideposts and feel like a failure when I didn’t meet them. But writing is not like a public service career. Or maybe it is, now that I’m writing this out.

The difference between my writing career and my public service career is that I might be forced to take an off ramp with the latter, but quitting was never an option. I played around inside the commitment to working in the public service until retirement. I changed employers and teams and workplaces, but after a stint in corporate America as an intern in college, I realized I did not have the temperament nor the inclination to play that type of game.

Turning pro means there is no off-ramp. The goal is to wake up in the morning and act as a professional. The work is all there is. Reading memoirs of successful artists is a reminder of that. At the end of the day, whether the person is a New York Times Bestselling author or just self-published their first eBook on Amazon, each one of us comes to page and writes. Sometimes that’s typing on a computer. Sometimes that’s through dictation. But each day we come to the page, we win. It’s a choice.

Keep moving forward. Keep getting better.

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As of Day 66, – 3/6/24

# of Words I Wrote/# of Words Written To Be on Track/Year Goal

125,329/ 133,584 / 740,784

About Irette Y Patterson

Irette Y Patterson is a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and romance. She has been published in FIYAH, Strange Horizons, Translunar Travelers Lounge and on the website of The Saturday Evening Post. When not writing, you can find her digging around in her garden or catching the latest musical in the theater.
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