Sep 20, 2012

Moonlighting: My Nighttime Forays Into Work

Recently, a change in responsibilities at my full-time job means that I spend my days doing the same creative work that I used to do only in the evenings.

For years, the day time work my employer paid me for—writing queries, creating financial reports, analyzing productivity figures—was kept neatly separate from the evening work of freelance writing and editing that I do for myself. I always dreamed of having a more seamless career, however—one that didn't have such distinct boundaries of skill set and knowledge. But until recently, I didn't see a way that could ever happen.

Now, I spend large parts of each day reading, researching, and writing about the healthcare industry for the medical billing company I work for; I tweet and like and post and share. I connect people with content I have created. Then, I come home and do the same things all over again with my blog, the High Calling, and other publications I submit work to.

When my job first changed, I thought that finally I was achieving the holistic creative life I had always wanted: I was writing and creating content full time. But I quickly realized that the writing I am doing for my employer is just business. I still want to write about all the things I am passionate about—faith, art, culture, everyday life—when I get home.

It’s just that I have little creative energy left at the end of the day.

Now, questions about loyalty and commitment have become part of the conversations I have with myself: Am I am giving too much of my best work to my employer? Or, for years, have I been giving too little of myself to my employer, worrying more about my own success than helping my company thrive?

When a person has two jobs, we often call this "moonlighting," an old Middle English word that implied the second job was done in the wee hours of the night, by the light of the moon. But moonlighting also is a synonym for "unfaithful," and a "moonlight requisition" is a nighttime foray for stealing or pillaging.

Even now, as I consider my two sets of work, I can't for the life of me figure out which career I'm cheating on.

Many people I know have these two-track callings. It's not just having a career plus a hobby. It's more like having a dream plus a day job. We need to eat, so we spend eight hours a day or more doing what we need to do. But in the evenings, we knock ourselves out to follow our passions.

We've all heard of the actress who waits tables, but I know a man who spends his days in the C-suite of a successful medical practice while also developing his own consulting business on the side. Another friend is a project manager, but he really wants to be a pastor. We are content, for now, to do other work that people pay us to do. But we hope, and plan, eventually to get paid to do the work we dream of. If only part-time.

Because I work at a small business in an industry that is changing rapidly, I am finding that once again my responsibilities are shifting. Some of my time with words is giving way to a little more time with numbers again; it was my idea. My company needs my flexibility right now. And the division of duties has actually restored some of my creative energy back to my evening work.

Image by Tim Miller. Used with permission. Post by High Calling Content Editor, Charity Singleton.

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