“Don’t Quit Your Day Job” vs. “Follow Your Dreams”
“Next month, I’m quitting my job and writing for a year,” a friend of mine said at a party.
He’s not really a friend. He’s the husband of a coworker of my wife. I hardly know the guy, but I don’t have a lot of friends, so I just say he’s my friend.
Anyway, his wife is going to support him while he sits around and writes a novel all day every day for a year. It’s been a dream of his all his life to be a writer, and for a year he gets to live his dream. He says maybe he’ll be successful and get to continue living his dream. He has a good job now, and he knows they won’t hold it for him, so after a year (if he’s not successful writing), he’ll have to start sending out resumes and get ready for interviews.
Of course, I’m jealous. I’d love to quit my job and simply write, but there’s no way my wife would go for it. I’d never ask her. My wife and I have the same philosophy: you never mess with guaranteed income.
But when my wife talked to my friend, she spent almost ten minutes telling him how much she admired him for following his passion. I kept my mouth shut. If I tried to quit my job and write for a year, she’d kick me out and change the locks. She expects me to work. I don’t blame her. I expect me to work too.
My friend doesn’t know about my blog or my ebooks. I could have given him some advice, told him how difficult it is to get income from just writing, especially if nobody knows who you are. But I hesitated. I don’t know how good of a writer he is. He’s a smart guy, so he might have out-of-this-world talent, and I don’t know. Also, he networks and might know people in publishing. I was tempted to ask him if he knew anybody in publishing, but then if I told him about my blog after I asked him about his contacts in publishing (if he had any), it might have looked like I was trying to leach off his connections.
Plus, he could have taken my advice the wrong way. He could have thought to himself, who the hell is this guy, just another schmuck who claims to have a blog? I didn’t want to come across as a know-it-all who doesn’t know that much, so I didn’t say anything. But I nodded with great enthusiasm as others encouraged him.
This experience could end badly for the married couple, I thought. The wife could end up resenting my friend’s year of writing if it’s unsuccessful by their standards. On the other hand, if my friend is successful, then he may divorce his wife, just as many famous people do once they make the transition from normal to famous. In either case, divorce is a strong possibility, and the children will be hurt the worst. They really should think about the children. Yeah, they don’t have any children, but still! You should always think of the children, even if you don’t have any.
As I stood there silently, I could have said something like “It’s good to follow your dreams,” but that sounds kind of trite and insincere. I’d rather say nothing than sound insincere. Maybe I should have spoken honestly to my friend about his chances of becoming a successful writer in one year. That’s what a true friend would do, I think. But I didn’t think it would have been wise for me to tell him not to quit his day job because his mind was already made up, and when that happens, it’s best to help the friend to succeed, rather than to second-guess himself. So instead of saying, “For God’s sake, don’t quit your day job,” I kept quiet and thought of some practical non-writing advice for him.
* Keep the house clean while his wife works.
* Do the grocery shopping.
*Avoid writing while his wife is home.
* Get up at the same time as his wife on her work days.
*Keep the porn use to 30 minutes or less a day. (I don’t condone watching porn when he’s supposed to be writing and his wife’s at work, but he’s 30, so it’s going to happen. And it’s better than watching it when she’s at home.)
I know I preach about waiting six months to have an opinion, but I’m not being hypocritical here. It might sound like I have an opinion, but I don’t. This is merely my initial reaction. An initial reaction is not the same thing as an opinion. I’m still open-minded enough to change the course of my thoughts after an initial reaction. It’s tough to change an opinion. Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait a year to form an opinion about this.
What do you think? Is it a good idea to quit a well-paying job to write for a year? Should I have implored him not to quit his job, or was I right to stay away from that issue? Should I give him my practical advice when I see him again next week? Would you quit your job to follow your dream if your spouse offered? Is it okay to have an opinion about this situation without knowing ahead of time what will happen?
If you’re sticking with your day job, or even if you’re following your dreams, you need to say things in a polite, professional way.