A Novel Idea

The first 100 days

Posted on: May 26, 2010

100 days. One HUNDRED days. It sounds like a long time. 

We measure Prime Ministers and Presidents by what they can achieve in this slice. They usually come up wanting.

My first hundred days opens spectacularly. My fiancé and I leave our Paris hotel room to brave the cold and mingle with the French in the streets of the 16th arrondisement. We hold each other as 2009 moves into 2010. The start of a new decade.

My New Year’s resolution to become published sparkles in my mind as brightly as the coloured lights of The Eiffel Tower before us.

Three weeks later. We’re back in Australia, back to work, and sadly back to reality.

I return to my habit of waking up early to squeeze thirty or forty minutes of solid writing in before work. It’s a relatively new habit, begun after taking a six week fiction writing course at a community college a couple of months before our big trip. Every week we had to turn in writing for critiquing by the group. With my stupidly demanding job and the postgraduate degree I’ve started ‘in my spare time’, the only time I can write is at sparrow’s fart.

In the world beyond, the Global Financial Crisis is still wreaking havoc. Colleagues are ‘leaving’, entire divisions are ‘restructuring’. I get a new boss, one in another country, one who feels it is perfectly reasonable to call me during dinner, repeatedly, for non-urgent requests. Suddenly there is never any boundary to when work stops and my own time begins.

I’ve worked many a long night or early morning. I’ve done it for weeks at a time for crucial projects. I get the job done. But this is something else.

I keep my goal in mind. I try to maintain my early morning starts. Late night conference calls across multiple continents are shearing my sleep closer than an Australian jumbuck. Two strong coffees aren’t enough. I start missing important family functions.

My morning output could best be described as ‘a random collection of letters’, certainly not writing.

I’m getting desperate.

My partner, Connor, sits me down. This isn’t working. You’re stressed out. You whinge about your work everyday, yet you used to love it. I’m getting sick of you being unhappy.

You’re sick of me being unhappy?

Back and forth.

Eventually, a plan. This year, we’re saving for the wedding. Next year, we’ll save for a year off for you to write.

OK.

Not OK. V has the brilliant idea to take a tougher job (with more pay) to get to the golden writing time faster.

Disaster ensues.

New job is ten times worse than old job. No amount of money can make new job bearable. V quits job.

(After consulting Connor of course.)

V dabbles here and there. Interviews. Progresses through the rounds. Everything’s going great (except no writing is happening because finding a new job takes more energy than cruising competently through an existing one).

V runs out of play money. Just waiting on that job offer. Any day now.

Starts writing again. Great work, just gushing out.

Still waiting on that offer.

Waiting…

Connor throws a curve ball. Is there some way we can cut back on spending so you can have your writing year now?

Well, I could give up this, and this, and I guess I don’t really need this either.

Budget adjustments…

No, we can’t afford it.

Look, says Connor. This is about your sanity and therefore mine. I will give up this and this. I probably don’t need this.

Recalculate. Still not enough.

Well, it was a great idea honey. I’m really touched you would give up all that for me. It’s OK, I’ll take that job offer and we’ll just stick to plan A.

But you love writing.

Yes, I know I love writing. But I love a roof over my head, and shelter, and food in our bellies. We can’t cut any further. It just isn’t feasible.

What about the wedding?

What about the wedding? You still want to marry me right?

Connor gives me the please-don’t-ask-stupid-insecure-questions look.

I wait.

I love you and you love writing. I’ll marry you tomorrow, we can just keep it simple. Or, we can postpone the wedding. But to be honest, I was really looking forward to having the wedding the way we’ve planned it.  

In my first 100 days I’ve moved from would-be to full-time writer, but our dream wedding has moved a year further away. I tell you about the other things we’ve given up to make this happen as I miss them.

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