When I discovered my passion for writing three years ago, I foolishly thought I could stop practicing law and reinvent myself as an author. Perhaps that might be possible someday, when I retire, but for now, my life is a non-stop, exhausting merry-go-round that typically begins at 3:00 a.m. and doesn’t end until I collapse from fatigue at 8:30 each night while spending quality time in front of the television with my daughter. (And yes, quality time can be had in front of the T.V. Where else can a mom share some laughs, take catty potshots at popular culture icons and make piercing observations about others’ bad behavior with an otherwise aloof eleven-year-old?)


I went away for the long President’s Day weekend all by my lonesome. My weekend began with joyful anticipation: I planned to hunker down and spend three glorious days immersed in my third manuscript, The Floater (which, for perhaps the fourth time, I thought was “done,” but on further reading—and preliminary feedback from friends—I realized was not). But this post is not about The Floater; I will leave that for another day. This blog concerns the challenges of leading a double life: One eked out in the wee morning hours; the other lived in the punishing light of each workday. One whose pleasures rob me of slumber while the rest of the world snoozes; the other whose demands deplete my remaining energy in a never-ending cycle of client deadlines and billable hours.

Unfortunately, I had not only my latest creation to look forward to this past weekend, but also several pesky, long-overdue paperwork chores and a “big-box” retail lease due Tuesday morning for a major client. The hours melted away as I read and revised The Floater, then re-read, re-edited, emailed friends for feedback and input. By Sunday night, I hadn’t finished any of the other tasks I had set out to complete, but my manuscript was coming into ever-sharper focus like a Polaroid snapshot (remember those?). By the time Monday afternoon rolled around, I still hadn’t started reviewing the lease. Where had all my time gone? I began feeling stressed, tight, and anxiety-ridden. The contrast in my energy was palpable: Whereas my creative hard work had engaged and energized me throughout an entire weekend, the prospect of reading a fifty-page lease left me feeling numb. But I had a commitment to fulfill, so I forced myself to shift gears and focus on the tediously-boring-but-lucrative work.

I am not complaining. To the contrary, I know I’ve got it made. My “real” job pays well enough that I can single-handedly support my family in relatively few work hours compared to most. It affords me the flexibility of working from home, and, while not terribly fulfilling, the work itself is often fast-paced and sometimes intellectually stimulating. My writing “career,” on the other hand, pays next to nothing. If I am lucky, I earn enough in a month to take my daughter to the movies (without springing for popcorn). Dr. Esquire continues practicing law out of necessity while the fugitive—Sheryl Sorrentino the author—labors tirelessly under cover of darkness.

“Follow your passion and the money will follow?” What naive flake came up with that? For me, a more accurate edict is this: “Submit to the harsh realities of capitalism; commit a few remaining hours to the pursuit of passion; and be grateful if you're lucky enough to have both these things in your life.”