Friday, January 11, 2013

How Nath got the guts to quit pharmacy and write about life.

I went to high school (nearly 20 years ago) with some of the brightest kids in Indiana.  We were plucked from our home schools to go to nerd boarding school.  As we approach 40 my classmates are extremely interesting people and my favorite people to keep up with on Facebook.  My first memory of Nath (rhymes with math) Jones was the evening of a dance.  I was waiting and waiting near the front doors of the dorm for a boy and Nath hollered out that I had nice legs. 

Now Nath is novelist who does wild things on Facebook.  What I wanted to find out is how she had the guts to leave her career as a pharmacist for a writer's life.  I'm intrigued by people who are driven to leave stability for an artistic endeavor because that absolutely scares the bejeezus out of me.  So I asked and here is Nath Jones' answer:

To write, you need time and money. How much? I have no idea. It seems likely that writing requires every minute an aspirant can devote.

I've always written. I stapled pages of blue-lined kindergarten pulp paper together capturing the Magic Marker lives of Strawberry Shortcake and her nemesis. I wrote in hot pink-paged Lisa Frank notebooks in seventh grade. I wrote every moment I could in basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in the Ozarks.

I just write. It's my life.

But. It's yet to be my living.

I've had lots of jobs but pharmacy provided me with stability, job security, flexible hours, and professional status in the community.

I worked full-time as a retail pharmacist for eight years and loved it. There's no other job where you talk to so many people about so many things in one day. And the conversations are of vital importance to the moment of each life. It was such a gift to be present for others in that mode of service.

For the first four years as a pharmacist, I worked the regular hours. But I was so discontented not having enough time to write. I spoke to my boss and the district's pharmacy scheduler. They were very supportive and helped me establish a writing life. I worked bankers hours as a writer M-F, 9-5 and worked as a pharmacist nights and weekends.

It was fantastic. I finally had my focus where I wanted it: on writing books. But. It was also exhausting. Beyond exhausting. I worked two full-time jobs for four years. Both were demanding and I had almost no time at all for friends, family, and maintaining health of mind, body, and spirit.

So. I talked to some people, my mom and boyfriend at the time in particular. And. They said: Go for it. Try writing full-time. Pharmacy will be there.

I found that purist idealizations of an artistic vision are very hard to implement. Art and entrepreneurship are not mutually exclusive. When I put my work in the context of a business start-up, suddenly things became possible. I could take action. I could make progress. I made a business plan and took the plunge.

The concept in October 2010 was: take two years off pharmacy, set up the online infrastructure of the writing business, write four e-books, upload them to four big e-book platforms (Kindle, Smashwords, Google Books, and Scribd), and finish the manuscript for that debut novel.

It was a great idea. I had a plan. I worked the plan.

But. Well. Wow. Two years and two and a half months later? Um. Pharmacy jobs are hard to come by in Chicago. The online infrastructure for the writing business is still nascent. Three of the four e-books are available. And. The novel manuscript needs another draft.

But. I don't care. Writing is my life's purpose. Every day I wake up excited, fulfilled, ready to learn, and energized. Ultimately, you really don't need that much money to write. But you absolutely do need time.
In the not too distant future, by Monday I hope, I'll share Nath's post about the way she uses Facebook which is completely different than anyone you know. 

You can find Nath on Goodreads, Scribd, YouTube,  and


Elizabeth Munroz said...

Nath is an inspiration. Thank you, Rayne for introducing her and giving her space to share.

Sam Steale said...

Quiting pharmacy must have been the hardest decision. I have worked for a pharamceutical company called Proclinical for a few years now and I do not think I would have the guts to go through such a career change, even though I do sometimes think about it. Nath is brave to follow his dreams.

Celinda said...