Writing life (by design and redesign) – Grace Greene

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By Grace Greene

A year ago, I decided to leave my day job to write full-time, but setting the actual departure date was harder than expected. I was apprehensive. I had a great job at a large financial institution doing work I enjoyed … except I wasn’t enjoying it any longer.

For almost a decade, my day job had meshed well with my evening and weekend writing life. Until it didn’t. I could blame my diminished enthusiasm on a change in managers, or blame the changing business environment, and those realities played a part, but the root cause was the change occurring within myself, as more and more of my life was spent focused on my writing.

Back in 2011 and 2012, my first novels were published via a small press. I learned a lot during that process, and thereafter, I published myself. There is so much I love about the Indie life — writing, cover design, formatting, web design. It makes all the parts of my brain, the creative and the logical, happy. But remember, I was doing this nights and weekends, even taking stay-vacations from work to manage my expanding business. As my self-pub inventory grew, another problem emerged. Writing, designing, and formatting, while trying to market and manage my growing portfolio of books got crazy. Doing all that in addition to holding a full-time job, became overwhelming.

Make no mistake, it was scary leaving the day job even though my husband and I had been planning for it. We knew we’d be okay financially, at least for the time being. But everything comes in its season. In this case, soon after I left the day job, I signed with Lake Union Publishing for two books. I could never have accepted that contract while working the day job and, I admit, having the contract eased many of my transition worries.

Still, the truth is that nothing is ever simple. As a full-time writer with contractual deadlines, I wrote more, and faster, than ever before. Instead of one book in a year and a half, I wrote two+ in less than nine months. I stayed focused and got it done. The unaccustomed word count production was an amazing experience and I learned many things, including new strategies for improving output and overcoming writer’s block. I also learned that without balance you can continue for just so long before your brain and body, and maybe even your relationships, break down.

When I explain writing fiction to others, I use the example of quilt pieces as story elements. The fabric swatches may come from an old prom gown, an outfit worn on a special date, the last whole square of a tattered baby blanket, and other fabrics associated with memories, arranged into a form, a design, that is pleasing and functional — a quilt. But the quilt isn’t the prom gown, it isn’t that special date, or the baby blanket. The quilt is a quilt, made up of bits and pieces stitched together to create a new whole — a whole new story. I think that’s true of life, too. As with every other person, I have rearranged the pieces of my life many times, from childhood to motherhood to working mom, and so on, to create the most livable experience possible. I’m rearranging them again as I figure out this full-time writing gig, and I’m still in quest of the perfect design — that best balance of work, focus, and production, interwoven with play, rest, relationships, and health.

I’ll keep on arranging and rearranging, and continue writing, trusting that the writing energy generated now will fuel my momentum into the next iteration — the best and happiest design of an enjoyable life.

On January 31st, the first of the two books I sold to Lake Union was released. There’s something a little extra meaningful about that considering what I was doing this time last year. The Happiness in Between has a theme that hits home with me: Between what you think you want and what you get is where you’ll find happiness. It’s almost an “enjoy the journey” or “stop and smell the roses” sort of message, and something we should all keep in mind as we work to make our lives the best they can be.

Grace Greene writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance with suspense and inspiration. A USA Today Bestselling author, Grace lives in Virginia and has family ties to North Carolina. She writes books set in both locations. Her most recent release, The Happiness in Between, highlights a protagonist, a woman who tried to please everyone and ended up pleasing no one. Now, she wants yet another chance to remake her life, but first, she must understand the real problem — herself.


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