The Day Job Wins

Forty-eight hours after release from Adjusting Gig 1, I received notice of Gig 2 and am making my way across country to the new location. The first 30 days of each assignment means zero days off but I should be well rested by the time I report for duty again.

I am driving west for the first time since 1985 (road trip!) and when I get my Sundays off I will meet up with several dear friends who have migrated that way in the last few decades. I am excited for the continued excellent work opportunity and a bit of adventure. Woo Hoo!!!

But, once again, the constant zig and zag leaves me feeling that large portions of my life have been wasted pouring time and energy (and money) down paths that end in brick walls. I am now 18 months behind on writing my novel (or 20 years!) and again mothballing my painting business that I hadn’t even thought to reopen until it came barrelling at me uninvited last fall.

My recent mural clients want to promote my work. I’ve had several other project inquiries before I’ve even made new business cards. The decorative items in my antiques mall booth sold out while I was in my cubicle these past four months. This all indicates that there is a market for what I do. But now I am not able to produce more products for retail. Although this last office gig was in my own town, the work is long hours, 7 then 6 days/week and exhausting. Add the rest of life’s responsibilities and there was no way to get into the studio and still function on the job. The day job wins – I’m being paid to be sharp and make good decisions, not come in sleep deprived and zombified.

This next gig is out of town – that’s the end of even pretending about 5am studio time. I will not be able to complete the paintings I have started. And why discuss murals that I can’t schedule because of the day job’s unpredictability?

And the novel – it is set in an obscure time and place, meaning I still have stacks of research to do before I can move further with the rough draft. I can’t scribble a sentence without three significant research questions popping up. I am bringing some of the neglected research materials west with me in hopes that if I can’t paint at 5am, I can at least read and make some notes.

So why not quit the day job and go full focus on the painting business? There is evidence that there is a market for it. I’ll tell you why: money. That’s the nasty truth of it. I do believe, given the time to spool up and build a clientele, I could make a go of it in the Jacksonville area. But for now I must go for the bird in the hand – the desk job. We have too many demands for money right now and I cannot take the months/years required to establish my painting business again that this time.

I guess I have to accept that my life goes in circles and hope that the painting phase comes back around before too long. Part of my brain is making plans for that day, getting excited about the possibilities, thinking through a new business plan. The other part is trying to tamp that down and stick with the present: stay focused on the now, work really hard to capitalize on the current opportunites, make good decisions that will put me in the best possible position for when the next zag comes. And try to chip away at that novel.

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