My guest today is Laura Bickle who, if I were prone to puns, I would call a hot new author. I never make puns, though, so I won’t say that. Laura has written you a post called

Writing Life – Taming the Day Job

By Laura Bickle

Most creative folks have a love-hate relationship with their “Day Jobs.” These are the jobs that pay the bills, the jobs that soak up the majority of our waking hours. Our writing gets squeezed into whatever scraps of time that are left, minutes that are stolen from sleep and personal lives.

The Day Job is a shadow. A necessary evil. A time suck. I freely admit to having an adversarial relationship with my day job. I inwardly grumble about all the writing that I could get done if I weren’t chained to the desk or the phone. I know that wouldn’t happen in reality, though. If I didn’t have the day job, I’d be spending all my free time trying to get another and worrying about money. If I didn’t have one, there would be absolutely NO writing happening at all – I’d be a ball of frazzled energy.

But my Surly Muse still gets cranky. She feels as if she’s stuck in the shadow the Day Job casts, relegated to second fiddle. The Day Job runs the show, and she gets the leftovers.

But I’ve been trying to reframe the Day Job, to view it not as the enemy, but as sustenance. As food for the Surly Muse. They’re small efforts, but I’m trying not to let my Surly Muse get lost in the hustle-bustle of the Day Job’s inflexible routine:

-Once a week, I make sure to buy my Surly Muse something pretty, a journal or a pen or a book about writing. My Surly Muse is a little shallow. She likes shiny things, and I can tell her that it’s an offering from the Day Job. That seems to placate her a bit.

-I’ve made a space in my home for writing, a shrine to the Surly Muse. It’s a desk in the corner of a guest room, a real space for writing with candles, computer, clippings, and images that inspire me. Every so often, I pick a flower from the garden and put it in a vase there. It’s a small thing, but creating physical space for writing has really resulted in more writing for me. It’s probably the guilt that I experience when I walk past the desk. I can feel my Surly Muse tugging at my sleeve when I walk by.

-I decided that some things just weren’t as important as I thought. I was habitually putting a number of petty domestic chores ahead of my Surly Muse. Like organizing my closets. I don’t know how having my shoes lined up became more important than putting pen to paper, but I’ve got to learn to loosen my standards and let go of things that really don’t matter. Cleaning out the fridge can wait another day (as long as there isn’t a science project on the verge of developing sentience).

-Making a date with my Surly Muse. My Surly Muse likes to be fussed over. We have a standing date after dinner for an hour a day. After the dishes are cleared and laundry’s in the washer, I take a hot bath and think about the next scene I’m going to write. I try to let go of all the job worries for tomorrow morning. When I’m all warm and woozy, I retreat to my desk, light a candle, and start tapping out the words.

They’re small things, really. But they convince my Surly Muse that she’s every bit as important as the Day Job.

How do you keep your Day Job caged?

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Laura Bickle has worked in the unholy trinity of politics, criminology, and technology for several years. She and her chief muse live in the Midwest, owned by four mostly-reformed feral cats. EMBERS, her debut novel, is first in an exciting new urban fantasy series that continues with her forthcoming second novel, SPARKS. More information on her work can be found at www.salamanderstales.com.

Laura also writes as Alayna Williams. Alayna’s “debut” will be DARK ORACLE, Pocket Juno’s June 2010 release. More information on the Oracle series can be found at www.alaynawilliams.com.

Thanks, Laura! So pleased to have you here!

Laura and I, along with Matthew Morgan, will be on a panel at Marcon science fiction convention the last weekend of this month, talking about National Novel Writing Month. Hope to see you there!

Writing prompt: Just answer Laura’s question.

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