Neither Fish Nor Fowl

Books (Photo credit: henry…)


I am being naughty. I am sitting on the sofa, snacking on almonds, drinking my nth coffee of the day.  Which would be all fine and good, if I were doing it to fuel my work. My day job: because I have a squeaky-new, hot-off-the-press course to prepare and learn so that I can deliver it on Monday. Instead, I mooch around, resenting the work I have to do, leaving it once again until it is far too late, so that panic, sleepless nights and last-minute palpitations have to set in. Not exactly setting myself up for roaring professional success!


What I would like to do is finish my novel, finesse some poems, try out some new ideas I’ve been getting on and off (mostly off).  However, turning my back on what I ought to be doing for the sake of what I would enjoy induces too much guilt. So I end up doing neither. Instead, I read about how others are working on their books, going through the final edits, combining their day job with creative genius.  I vacillate between inspiration and desperation. End up feeling even more guilty, of course, and with nothing to show for my efforts at the end of the day.


I read somewhere that having a day job nourishes and enhances your writing. Or, at the very least, it makes you appreciate each little window of time opening up to you. So what is wrong with me that I find it harder and harder to appreciate the interplay between the two?


I remind myself how much T. S. Eliot despised his banking job and how his Bloomsbury friends (‘poor Tom’ crops up repeatedly in Virginia Woolf’s diaries) tried to drum up some money for him so he could dedicate himself to his writing. In the end, he found his work-life balance at Faber, but I do wonder if he might have been more prolific if circumstances had been kinder.


Creating ‘in spite of’ rather than ‘inspired by’. Hmmm, I wonder… Do adverse circumstances help to distill your work and bring out the truly essential? Or do they just lock you down mid-flow and mid-sentence?


A plaque at SOAS's Faber Building, 24 Russell ...
A plaque at SOAS’s Faber Building, 24 Russell Square, London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


8 thoughts on “Neither Fish Nor Fowl”

  1. Marina Sofia – It is so hard sometimes to have, if you want to put it this way, two selves. There’s the writer side of you that wants to explore your creativity. Then there’s the ‘day job’ side of you. Sometimes they get along well enough. Sometimes they don’t. I know the feeling.

    1. I used to be better at having a ‘split personality’, but the older I get, the more I feel I don’t want to waste my time on the things I enjoy less.

  2. I know how you feel. And then there are days when you just don’t want to write, but you know you have to because you said you would. I think telling someone to hold me accountable for what I accomplish really helps because if I announce my intentions out loud–whether to a friend or the internet–I feel like I have to follow up on my promise. My work is never great, but it gets done.

  3. I know what you mean. I actually went on this hiatus from writing (public writing, at least), just so I could see if I could make something great after a long break. And now, I have pages full of ideas and little actual writing done. To write “in spite of” instead of “inspired by,” –genius. ❤ Also, something that for me, is easier said than done.

  4. Marina, I know you are going to laugh truly hard, but I also hate my day job for how it keeps me away from writing. I am sure the world is poorer for the countless hours and precious gems lost to T. S. Eliot’s banking job.

    1. Sorry to hear that you are in a similar position – and yes, that is exactly my point about T.S. Eliot and so many others. It’s OK if you have the choice not to write, but not when you have the choice forced upon you.

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