My dirty little secret is that through my entire writing career in film with the exception of a two year stretch, I’ve kept a day job. Did it make for long days? Sure but film in Canada isn’t as well establish as film in the US or the UK and when every script you try to get produced is pretty much a two year ordeal, well, your family and you can’t live on air.
Plus I was really good at my day job building and updating food plants with a short two year hiatus into building generators for the film industry. I’ve always been a technical guy, maybe I can’t rebuild a car engine but I can troubleshoot a pasteurizer and fix the mechanical seal on a pump in good time. One of the reasons I enjoy it is that when I’m finished installing some new piping or building a skid based CIP for a plant, at the end of the process, there’s a physical useful object sitting there in front of me and every Thursday is payday. Don’t kid yourself, a regular paycheck is a good thing. You can plan your life around regular pay. Film is a lot more flighty than that and it’s probably why most writers in film who are slugging it out in the trenches, are nervous all the time and obsessed with money.
On the 27th of this month, I’ll be leaving my day job. No, it’s not because I’m selling a thousand copies a month on Amazon. It’s because my daughter deserves to have a life. For the last little while she’s been looking after her brother Colin, during the day. Colin as previously mentioned is an adult with Autism. My daughter has a good job lined up with decent pay. We have not been able to find an equitable care solution for my son that any of us trust or feel comfortable with and so I’ll be leaving my job to look after him. Will it give me more time to write? Of course it will. The difference now, is I’ll be doing it without the safety net of the day job’s salary.
When we explain this situation to people my wife and I get things said to us like, “You guys are saints.” This is also accompanied by a look which almost all parents of special needs individuals have seen. It a mixture of pity and misplaced respect. Seriously? Fuck off and spare me your pity, I don’t have time for it. We’re just a family in the same position as a lot of families around the world who struggle to do the best for their kids with the limited (and believe me, they are limited) resources available to us. We fight with the government at the municipal, provincial and federal level all the time. We worry about our kids having encounters with law enforcement who are not trained in dealing with mental illness or deficiency and don’t know that the stimming behavior in front of them is a stress reaction and does not need to be dealt with deadly force. Which of course is why you ultimately deal with these things in family because you’ve got years of experience as opposed to five minutes and a gut check.
Am I nervous? Only a fool wouldn’t be but that being said, I’m very good at putting one word in front of another in such a way that reading them doesn’t make people want to tear their eyes out, so that’s a good thing. I have a publishing plan and my books are selling steadily, which gives me a foundation to build on. And the best part of all is I really am going to be the only one responsible for how well this turkey is going to fly.