It's late at night, and I'm sitting by myself. I have just cracked a beer open to celebrate, because tonight, I finished the first draft of my novel. It weighs in at 118,000 words, which is somewhat longer than the minimum 50,000 word requirement to qualify as a novel. It's three hundred and fifty four pages of double-spaced, eleven-point-font, and I am uncomplicatedly proud, because it is proof of what one can accomplish if one sets aside the demands of the Rat Race (they aren't our demands, after all) to focus on what makes one happy.
In my case, it's writing, well that and giving the giant middle finger to entrenched elites. Happily, I've been able to incorporate both in my novel. I would never have been able to finish it by now if I hadn't have given up my job, and man, what a great time I've been having since I did.
It's bliss. Living this way, with the freedom to do whatever it is that your heart wishes to do, is the true definition of joy. I won't let it be said that I didn't put the work in. I scrimped and I saved and I made my husband sometimes use no-name household cleaning products, but it was all worth it, because I was able to save enough money to buy myself the freedom of a year to set after my dreams, and what a liberating feeling it is to have done it. Well, draft one, at any rate.
I remember, back in the days of heavy steel-toed boots and uncompromising adherence to schedules, how I used to walk down to my spot, the vacant land at the end of my road, and look up at the sky and think, if I could just finish my novel, I could quit this dang job and get on with my life.
I remember, too, how the answer came back to me: Quit your job, and it will come.
It was a scary thing to contemplate, giving up the security of benefits and a regular paycheck. But somehow, it was scarier not to think about it, to picture the long years of my future stretching out in front of me with nothing but the endless metal aisleways of that hulking factory to look forward to, well those and the five minutes of happiness a week when I opened my pay stub.
That same week a wise man named Joe said to me while we leaned over car roofs and scrubbed away at metal blemishes, he said "You know, the advantage of this type of job is that it gives you eight hours a day of uninterrupted thinking time. You can solve whatever problem you have in that time if you just put your mind to it."
He was right. It took me a year of studiously paying down debts and weaning myself off of the paycheck by taking as many leave of absence days off as I could. I remember a conversation with a guy named Paul in the parts department where he asked about my time off requests, "How do you do it?" "I just stopped caring about money," I told him, and I realized in that moment that it was true. I had come to the conclusion that if I wasn't working, I wouldn't need daycare, and if I didn't need daycare, I didn't need a job.
I've been free ever since, and that thought that popped into my mind has come true: if you quit, it will come, and it has. I don't know if this novel will ever amount to anything. All I know is that on my deathbed, when I look back at my life, I'll be able to say I went after my dreams.
Last week's total - $321.14
Savings this week - $46.29
Total thus far -- $367.43