Monday, March 24, 2008

Some people don't get a break

It's just me and the secretary at the office this week, which makes for a quiet day. Everybody has taken spring break off except us. Not that I wanted the vacation -- I'm going to get my own break in a few weeks, when Noel and I take our first longer-than-overnight trip away from the kids. I've been looking forward to a chance to catch up on belated work and to make some progress on long term projects.

Noel, of course, gets the short end of the spring break stick. Both the kids are out of school and at home, but he has his usual slate of viewing, writing, listening, and high-stakes file-rearranging to complete. I'm going to try to give him a couple of hours off, a couple of times this week, by taking the kids with me to the office in the morning. I know it's not enough, though -- not when his job is turning out incredible pieces like this week's Popless.

When I published my first book in 2002, I dedicated it to Noel with the words "the best writer I know." Not only am I still in awe of his skill, but the sheer volume of quality prose he turns out, week after week, would amaze even a professional. Every week I turn in a few hundred words and flatter myself that I'm a freelance writer. Noel turns in 15,000 words a week, I bet, on average -- I may be understating it; Popless alone is 7000 words -- working nonstop 16 hours days.

The rewards have been great. Readership for the A.V. Club is way up in the past year; there are literally millions of people reading Noel's work. He's working for some high-paying outlets that have given us a comfortable little bump in spending money. In many ways this was our dream -- to have two viable careers of our choosing, me teaching and him writing.

But there's a high cost in stress and reduced flexibility for our success -- not unexpectedly. We have to remind ourselves frequently that this is what we've wanted. After years of scrapping and fighting to make inroads in the freelance writing world, it's difficult figuring out the balance between how much work is available and how much work Noel needs or wants to take on.

I'm glad, in a way, that I don't have to make that choice. It's quite a responsibility deciding how to manage one's own career, not to mention the family that depends on it. I've always had confidence that Noel's talent and willingness to work would make him a success. Now the only question is how to make the most of it, while still making the most of our life.

1 comment:

Eric Grubbs said...

Great post, Donna. This is the kind of stuff that a lot of people start and stop with, "I love my spouse" and explain nothing more. So, I appreciate you sharing.