It's days like these that confirm the notion that writing doesn't really pay. When people asked me what I wanted to do with my life, where I see myself, the honest answer would be at the New Yorker, typing away with several cups of coffee from Starbucks in varying degrees of temperature and mold growth, postcards and posters, papers everywhere, some plants decorating an office and, for whatever reason, a vintage rotary phone to take calls on.
This is not so much a goal as an ambition, a pipe dream if you will. I like the idea of being someone who asks pointed questions, who can sum up just how ludicrous a situation is in 15,000 words and make people all over the country think and asks themselves, "yeah, why is it this way?" So, in essence, I've just declared that I want to be a journalist. Now, you, Dear Reader, may ask why I don't become a journalist and the answer I have is that it's a bad time for newspapers and I do not foresee it getting better. Plus, do I want to go to journalism school? No.
I admire people who get their graduate degree, but I have absolutely no desire to get one myself. It's been 3 years since I graduated from art school and I still look forward to an evening of having no papers to write and no exams to study for.
But, the truth is I do miss my writing classes. I miss the red ink on papers my professors would hand back, I miss the critiques, I miss having a deadline, and I miss the assignments. Because the assignments kept me inspired. Some people work well with blank slate; I am not one of them. When handed one, figuratively, it's as though my mind has also been wiped.
This is pretty much why I never really considered writing as a way to earn my bread and board. Inspiration is such a fickle cow, and when she leaves me everything goes gray. Worse than that, actually: food is no longer satisfying, my breath is smelly, I feel fat and tired all the time, I can't sleep properly, and I feel amazingly depressed.
Others are of absolutely no help whatsoever. Last time this happened my mother keep tossing ideas towards me, seemingly under the impression that if I just knuckled down and put pen to paper, another golden literary nugget would be on its way. Another friend, an English prof in fact, said that I just have to keep trying, keep writing and sooner or later it will come.The way he described it sounded like hitting the runner's wall and that if I just pushed through I could make it. Well, it doesn't work for me like that in writing or in running. When the genius doesn't burn it's like trying to keep warm by eating cold, soggy ramen noodles over a fire pit of soggy turf. It makes me feel terrible and even more discouraged. When my mother tosses these ideas at me, it makes me so depressed again because I know she's trying to help, and I love her for it, and I wish it was that simple.
What if a contract was riding on all of this? What if my paycheck and thus a mortgage or my children's college tuition was dependent on this?
So when people ask me what I do, I never even think to say, "I write." I mean, I do, but I wouldn't say I'm a writer and I tend to shy away from labels like that. The English professor invited me to this arts festival reasoning, "you're an artist so I though you'd enjoy this."
My reply was, "I'm not an artist."
It would pretty much be the same if my mother introduced me as her daughter, the writer.
I have artistic and literary tendencies, just like I have the tendency to go running. But I am nowhere near creating a real piece of art, or a real piece of literature; just like I'm nowhere near running even a half marathon. Therefore it would be vain, arrogant and foolish of me to give myself the title.
But, oh, I do want to create something beautiful. I do want my name put out there, for people to discuss in coffee shops wearing Dock Martins. I do want someone; an editor, a publisher, to say, "this is wonderful and I'm willing to give you thousands of dollars to print it." The whole reason why I write this blog is to share my thoughts with the world. They are many and they get agitated and have sharp elbows and tend to feel suffocated when cooped up in the attic of my mind. When they are there.
I know I should submit the pieces I have completed and see where they land, but I am nervous for my fledgling babies. What if no one like them? Correction: what if no one willing to pay for writing is willing to pay for them? I would rather never introduce them to the world than have them be outright rejected.
The other day I logged onto Facebook and saw I had a message from Vassar's resident celebrity English professor (who is not the same person as my friend). He said that I write very well and would I like to contribute to the e-zine? Just the fact that this Shakespeare scholar, identifier or handwriting and writing syntax thinks I write well made me jump up and down squealing like a little girl. I would like to contribute to this e-zine; to me this is the first step, albeit small one, to getting paid for this nonsense.
But now when I think about it, I have a small, irrational pit of fear in my stomach. It feels like I swallowed a thorny, knobbly peach pit: I have nothing to write about. I aired this concern to my mother and, of course, she said, "oh, write about this." It's a good idea, if only the germ of inspiration would take root. I wish I had taken the easy road of saying "thank yo for inviting me, but I've got too many projects going on right now."
It's how I feel, but completely untrue. I have a painting to finish that has needed finishing since the beginning of September, a letter to write, and a story to finish that has needed finishing since my junior year of college. And I don't know why I don't get on with it.
That felt like saying I don't why I don't bathe or brush my teeth. I should, I just can't bring myself to.


Popular Posts