A deep, if brief, e-conversation with dear friend Rob last evening. About work. The kind that occupies one’s days. The kind that pays the bills. Not necessarily the kind that sweeps your heart away. Not the passion. Not the lover in the bed.

“Never try to do two things at once and expect to do justice to both” the old saying tells us. But being a working writer without (as of this moment) the means to break away from the daily job world to reside the place where the heart lives. And that requires some fancy emotional footwork.

To do justice to the daytime job. To stay true to the love of one’s life, the work of the soul. It demands sacrifice—that of time, mostly. It requires a difficult balance between quality and compromise, because in one career the word is prized; in the other, everybody’s an expert.

The dual life is not a last-minute kindling of the writer-passion when the jobday is done…rather, it is a making of space in the heart during the day to allow one to do the best, most professional, most workmanlike job, knowing what is waiting at day’s end…a parsing-out of energy…an avoidance of resentment that passion must be postponed. When the day ends and the glorious world opens, that is when life really begins.

That emotional schizophrenia is the substance of one’s days. In the world of commerce—in the paycheck world—trying to honor both intentions is how the writer stays true to herself.

 

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