Writers are Writers: How I Learned the Hard Way to Not Wait for My Next Check and What I Did About It

Finally comprehending the synergy of hard work and common sense led to my first 20 consecutive years as a self-employed writer.

Joel Eisenberg


Writer at Work; Brad Neathery, Unsplash

The individual in the above photo is not the author of this article. However, he certainly seems to have the right idea.

I will get back to that.

For now, allow me to return to January of 2002. My wife and I had invited some friends to our new house for dinner. It was my 38th birthday; she worked throughout the day on a beautiful spread.

My actions that evening, however, would nearly lead to marital disaster.

Lorie and I met on my birthday two years earlier. We married August 26th of the following year, a fortune I never believed was in the cards for me as an all-too-frequently self-important yet painfully introverted writer. Since in a large sense we were still settling our lives together — a magical period where each of us joyously discovered habits and closely guarded peccadillos of the other — the concept of trust quickly presented itself as the primary ingredient of a successful union.

On the night of our 2002 dinner I misled a friend, a fellow writer. My wife overheard what I believed to be an innocuous response to a simple query:

“Nice house,” my friend said. “You haven’t mentioned any projects… Mind if I ask how you’re able to afford all this? I can barely afford rent.”

“Just taking on whatever independent projects I can find.”

“Where are you finding them all?”

“Craigslist, mainly.”

My wife interjected, knowing exactly what she was doing: “I don’t know what we’d do without his teaching income.”


My friend was stunned. “All this time you’ve also been teaching?” he asked. “You have a full-time job? You never told me.”

Two hours or so later, once our company was gone, my wife and I were equally furious with one another.



Joel Eisenberg

Joel Eisenberg is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. The Oscar in the profile pic isn’t his but he’s scheming. WGA and Pen America member.