The egotism of doing nice things [Mama #1]

Have you managed to make a career out of your favorite pastime?

Today’s question comes from Mama at Reinvention of Mama, who dreams of becoming a full-time author some day. She is the one who bestowed upon me the third Liebster of the recent Liebster hat trick.

The first question Mama posed to her Liebsterados says:

Do you write full-time?  If so, how did you decide to take the leap of faith and go for it?  If not, what would it take to make you confident enough to take that leap?

That’s a tough question – not to answer, but to swallow; you see, there’s this one impulse I have that’s based on the idiom “if you have a job doing what you love, then you never have to work a day of your life.” Then I have a competing impulse based on the idiom “a girl’s gotta eat.” These two impulses are currently at odds with each other – to be honest, they have been for a long time, but right now they can be found in a sort of awkward truce which is the most stable that it’s ever been. That’s because I like what I do at work, and there are a lot of days now when I don’t feel like I blew ten hours that I’ll never get back.

The Daily Post wants to know about the nicest thing I have ever done (stick with me here, I’m still on track.) I think that’s a strange question; the whole idea of talking about the nicest thing you’ve ever done puts a lot of assumptions on one’s own table, and in the end it may well turn out that one who buys into it is just feeding themselves – it’s just asking them to be egotistical. Applaud for them to keep them happy, but also consider how personal and act of kindness is – more so for the receiver than for the giver. An act of kindness causes physical and psychological changes to occur even as the receiver of the favor recognizes that the favor has been done. I know that I’ve done nice things for others, but nobody can say what the nicest thing I have ever done is; though any one person can pick out the nicest thing I’ve ever done for them, and thus I’m only qualified to try just to watch the nicest thing I’ve ever done for myself.

So let’s run with that, shall we?

The nicest thing I have ever done for myself is to let go of Michigan and move to North Dakota, where I met and married my wife, and where we had my daughter – legacy secured, cue the applause.

How could I top that?

At this point, the nicest thing I could do for myself – and consequently for my family and the world at large – is the find a way to turn my writing into a career; there’s just one problem in my way: income.

You see, a girls got to eat, and writing doesn’t always offer the most secure employment – and if the writer is a freelance journalist maybe even less than that. Then you add in the fact that it counts as self-employment, so I have to do my own withholding, health insurance, retirement planning, the taxes are more complicated to do… If that’s going to be worthwhile then the money has to be there. I have to be able to reliably pay the bills and provide for my family first!

So no, I don’t write full-time; but if I did – if I were able to pull that off – it would probably be the nicest thing I will ever have done for myself, for my family, and for the world – because when I’m happy, everyone’s happy.

That’s not egotistical, is it?

A quick note: today is National Handwriting Day. If you have the time, consider sitting down and writing out a few pages of anything by hand; it’s great for your brain, I swear. Some say that writing by hand is a dying art in an age where computer and cellphones have become the mainstream vehicles of communication – but I say it’s an essential skill, and if we lose it altogether we will suffer for it. That’s all.

This post was prompted in part by <a href="; and this week’s Daily Post writing challenge. target=”_blank”>today’s Daily Post prompt.


  1. I still hand write all my notes, does that count?

    Interesting take on the question. Not sure I can answer that one either. What is the nicest thing I’ve ever done for someone else? Honestly, I can’t pinpoint any one event. So, I like your approach to the question.

    Good luck with finding a path to writing for a living! Just keep an open mind and I’m sure a great writing gig will come your way.

  2. I loved reading this, Rob. I’ve been looking for a vehicle to turn my writing hobby into a career. However, until more people read and I have more people clamoring at me to publish, I have doubts that I would ever be able to turn a reasonable profit by it, so at The Dragon’s Lair and Cimmy’s Stories my writing stays for the time being.

    • I’m hoping that when I get things sorted out here that I can get back to work on the story I started for NaNoWriMo because I’d like to finish and start submitting that; I figure even if it takes me a year to get through the writing, editing, and alpha-reading stages to my first submission, at least I’ll have that under my belt and I can get to work on something else while the manuscript makes the rounds. The first book sale with a serious advance just might threaten my wish to be normally employed!

  3. I loved your answer! I am trying to get to the point where I don’t think, “Dang, I will never get those hours back. (Cue sad trombone “wah-wahhhh” sound)
    I momentarily got lost during the nicest thing you ever did portion because for a minute I was taken back to age 19, revisiting my Intro to Philosophy class, which was both confusing and fun because boy, it would be nice to have that body back along with the sense of ‘I can do anything’… So in fact, add that to your list of random acts of kindness. Thanks so much for answering the question.

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