You know, I always thought it would be cool and romantic to be a poor Bohemian writer. You know, give up stability to follow your “Art.”
I mean Kerouac sure made it sound fun.
It’s really not that fun. Of course I’m not a Bohemian or a beatnick, also I’m not sure you could call this “Art.”
BUT I AM BROKE.
And I write. So there.
A few years ago I had a job in a law firm. It was a great job. The best part of it BY FAR was the fact that every two weeks (notwithstanding some disaster on account of my drinking habits), a check arrived in my bank account, like clock work. It was amazing. I got up and went to work every day, and in return, money appeared and I could use it just as my little heart desired.
Do you catch the yearning in my voice?
Good. Cause it’s real.
But as the years passed, this weird itch started forming in my gut somewhere. I started writing this blog thinking it would fix it, and it did for awhile, BUT THEN IT GOT WORSE.
It’s like I tasted writing, I tasted the sweet nectar of f-bombs and honesty (cause really that’s pretty much what this thing is, right?) and then all you people came into my life and I fell desperately in love and fell over one day in awe that all the sudden people were reading this blog, and they are fucking awesome people.
I thought I wanted to be an English professor. I quit my job at the law firm.
I was getting my M.A. in English and planning on pursuing a PhD. But then this post happened in February and some writing opportunities came and I started writing for Parenting magazine (they were sold to Parents and I lost my gig) and allParenting (I have a column there called “My Outside Voice” in which I get all political (cause like a good friend I mostly keep that stuff off this blog)). And Brain, Child published a couple pieces on their website, which was my dream, but mostly you people keep happening and I want to write, to you, for me, for us, not because I speak for you or because what I’m saying is important or profound or whatever, but because you seem to hear me, and me you, and there’s something fucking real there that shouldn’t be ignored.
You have to understand I didn’t anticipate any of this: I just wrote because it was in my heart and I wanted to, and I had to, so I did, to kill that incessant itch. And I’m amazed and overwhelmed at the opportunities that have arisen from that “itch.”
Ok let’s stop talking about itches. It’s starting to remind me of STDs. OMG Gross.
I graduated from the M.A. program, but I didn’t go to PhD school.
I devoted my life to writing, because of all that above.
I had two writing gigs and was a consultant for the firm and it seemed like this would all be fine. Ah, but I lost the Parenting magazine job (they were sold to Parents and the blog was discontinued) and the consultant job in the same month, which means I lost 2/3 of my income and yeah. Now we’re broke. OH COME ON I’m not going to ask you for money.
I like you people, but I sure as hell don’t need to be beholden to the interwebs. Can you imagine? One day you’d be reading this and you’d be like “You stinky whore! I just gave you $20.00 via Paypal and now you’re at a fucking BLUEGRASS SHOW IN MONTEREY?”
And then I’d have nothing to say except “Yeah, sorry, dude. We only appear to be grown-ups.”
It’s a really strange feeling to devote your life to something because you feel deep in your gut something is there, something can happen, and it takes TIME to make it happen. I can’t run out and get a full-time job because I’m working on a book proposal (shhhhhhh).
But friends I’m gonna level with you: Sometimes this is totally not fun. It’s not glamorous or sexy or cool at all. It’s not even really interesting.
You know what this is?
A FUCKING DUCT-TAPED SIDE-VIEW MIRROR (that’s kind of falling off anyway)
No really, this is my car.
Ah, I’m not complaining. Well actually yes of course I am.
But we’re eating (CLEARLY). We’re paying a mortgage (sometimes barely, and 10 minutes before it’s due) and thankfully have a small life. We’re learning to have a smaller one, but there are days when I wake up and all I want is the security of a bi-monthly paycheck, that softness in my gut that knows when the next check will come: the way clear, the path carved. I spend my time looking for part-time work or holing myself up, removed from my family – one more afternoon alone at a damn coffee house, wondering what the fuck and why and for what – pushing my terror aside for a few minutes to write the proposal, submit more writing, build a platform to prove myself.
And it all hinges on unknowns anyway. It’s weird to work your ass off and devote your life to something that may or may not happen. It’s really quite stupid when I think about it.
If I were smart I’d get a full-time job, right? I’d do what it takes to buy more things for my kids and get them in better schools and pay for more lessons and sports. Right? I mean I’m a mother of three kids and I need to PUT MY FAMILY FIRST.
But I’m not smart, and I’m not stopping until I’ve at least tried.
My kids are just fine. Money never made for a happy childhood anyway, and you know what’s crazy? They’ve never once noticed the fucking duct-taped mirror.
I’m writing this so we can go through it together, and laugh one day, looking back, when this is just the storm before the glorious clearing. (Or I’m back at the trusty cubicle, enjoying the bi- monthly paychecks and general malaise, planning my next exit strategy, looking back with nostalgia on my days as a crazy poor aspiring writer.)
Either way, this whole thing is your fault. YOUR existence is the reason I feel all compelled to keep on writing. YOU and your damn encouragement and support and brilliant fucking comments that lead me to believe we’ve got something going here.
I’m really grateful for you. This really isn’t your fault, and we’ll just keep on keepin’ on, you and me.
Because really, at this point, is there any other option?
I know I’m lucky as hell. I know I’m living a dream. But everybody’s gotta whine sometimes.
There’s this Rumi poem that says “Let the beauty you love be what you do.”
This is the beauty I love.
So fuck it, I’m doing it.