Wednesday, December 1, 2010

From Shane - Quitting the Day Job

From Shane – Emeritus Criminal Mind - filling in for Graham

Lisa, you spend your days knee-deep in fingerprints and legal reports. But your passion seems in your writing, which is terrific. Will you continue to straddle both worlds, thereby guaranteeing no sleep ever, or is your goal to become a full-time novelist?

It’s stressful doing both, no denying it. I have two full time careers, and I’m getting too freakin’ old for that kind of nonsense. However, writing is entertainment and the entertainment industry is fickle, so I don’t feel too secure about quitting the day job. Plus I was raised by two people who lived through the depression; I’ve learned well the importance of a steady paycheck.

Add to this that I actually like my day job. Never in my life have I gotten along so well with a group of co-workers. I genuinely enjoy their company. People throughout the rest of the building can sometimes get on my nerves, but as long and I’m not getting slammed with calls, I’m happy at work. I work 12 hour shifts, and yet when I’m tucked up at my desk, listening to tunes and examining fingerprints, sometimes I have to make myself go home.

Perhaps a sad commentary on my home life.

Having only one job beckons, however. Whenever they get me up at 2 a.m. because someone stole cigarettes from the 7-11, I start planning to quit the day job and do nothing but write. I’ll stay in my pajamas until my lunchtime workout and stop wearing a watch.

But then when my editor hasn’t read my manuscript yet but I’m sure he’s going to hate it and my agent wants me to rewrite the second half of the next one and some anonymous person on who can’t even spell has declared my writing the worst she’s ever read, then I figure I can just give it up and stick with the day job. At least it has more clearly defined goals, outcomes, and hours.

Except when someone steals cigarettes from the 7-11.

Lisa Black is a full time latent print examiner/CSI and the NYT bestselling author of the Theresa MacLean series, including Takeover, Evidence of Murder and the recently released Trail of Blood. Please visit her website at


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Boy, I could have written this post. I get asked the same question all the time and have the exact same answers (minus the 7-11 theft): stressful but love my day job and love the security of steady pay and benefits. Most people don't have one career they love. We're lucky ducks - we have two! Still ...

Rebecca Cantrell said...

I admire your fortitude, Lisa! I just have the two series, a part-time job, and the mommy duties and I sometimes feel completely overwhelmed. And no one ever calls me in the middle of the night because of cigarettes stolen from 7-11. In fact, the novelty of a call like that would probably get me right out of bed...

Keep doing what works! We're all grateful that you do both your jobs!

Shane Gericke said...

Hey, look, I'm an Emeritus!

Which is probably Latin for Old and Useless ...

Nice post, Lisa. I tried having a day job and writing, but couldn't swing it. My newspaper editor gig was about 12 hours a day, so by the time I got home, the last thing I wanted was to sit in front of a $%^&* computer for another couple hours writing.

So I quit to do this. Great decision, one I will never regret, but the financials are, um, interesting, as you so correctly point out :-)

Can't wait to see you on the book circuit in 2011!

Shane Gericke said...

Rebecca, because I want to make your life happier and more fulfilled, I'll call you at 3 a.m. because someone stole the cigarettes from the Naperville 7-Eleven :-)

Lisa Black said...


JUST two series, a job and a child? JUST?

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Shane, don't make me come over there!

Lisa, it feels like a lot, but then I look at folks doing all that plus working more hours at their day jobs and I'm humbled. Plus, I suspect their houses are cleaner than mine. :)

Shane Gericke said...

Lisa, on yesterday's question, is there really any place you can shoot somebody and have them up and about in a couple hours? A couple days? A couple guys I know who've been shot say it hurts like lightning strikes, so much they bawled like babies, and no way they could have been up and running right away ... and they were wearing body armor. What's the truth of the matter?

Shane Gericke said...

And Rebecca, come on over any time. The gluten-free tea pot's always on for ya.

Kelli Stanley said...

Clean house? What's that? Entertainment--TV? Never heard of it. And Becks, don't ask me if I've watched Brick yet, because I haven't had a chance to watch ANYTHING.

Such is the two-series, half-time day job existence in my case ... The irony is we all work damn hard and are still suffering from "interesting" financials, as Shane describes them.

I am in awe of Lisa and Sue Ann and anyone with two full time careers they love--you guys are time-management goddesses!!