Sometimes we don’t appreciate enough that if we like a flavour of tea, we should probably say so out loud.
I’m a writer in perhaps the best time to be a content creator. I get to, theoretically, make something that can be seen by dozens of people at a time immediately after it’s done, who can then tell their dozens just as instantly that it’s worth looking at and sharing to even more dozens.
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s discouraging as a creator to know that maybe that doesn’t happen.
So I want to talk about The Power Of The Share for a moment.
If you value me, then you’d still value me if I said I wasn’t going to do a thing, didn’t or don’t like a thing, didn’t want to go to a place, was too busy to go to a place now, or would like to do something other than that.
If you value me, then you would still value me if there was a thing you liked and wanted to share with me that I don’t have time for or enjoy.
If you value me, then when I say ‘no’ to something that is not you, you wouldn’t be offended. You wouldn’t respond by saying I don’t care. You wouldn’t lash out.
I have been realizing that most of my interactions with people can boil down to my fear that people do not understand the above, and the only way I can get their attention is to do exactly what they want every single moment of my time.
I am the only one who does, really. Everyone else gets to dictate how they would like to use their time every single moment.
And this predicament of mine is solely my fault.
I should be willing to tell people who have little respect for me, my time, my privacy, my desires, my interests, or my passions that I have no time for their bullshit.
And I should be willing to do away with the acquaintance of anyone who says that I’m a bad person for not accommodating them.
Because I want things. I am not a sounding board for other people’s desires. I have my own. Sometimes I want to talk about those instead of just nodding. I am not an errand-boy for other people’s wants. I have my own. Sometimes I want to be able to have enough time in my day just to at least try doing something I would like to do.
I am fed up of thinking the only way people will love or value me is if I leave my authentic self at the door and fill in for whatever they think A Loved One Of Theirs is.
Well, if I’m not that, maybe I’m not the person you need. Because sometimes I get really tired bearing the burden of having to discard myself every time someone else wants something. Especially when the only thing they want is someone other than who I am.
I’ve spent a lot of time the past six days reconciling my insatiable need to only write for a living with the fact that writers typically have a day job, especially debut novelists. Suffice it to say that my first published book, if I’m lucky enough to be published, won’t feed me unless it is absolutely stellar, and while I’m not exactly doubting my ability to write well, it would be competing with an entire ocean of stories.
For a lot of people who want to be writers, this is actually bad news, capable of persuading the next big thing to live a life of wage servitude forever. And if that person’s lucky to find something else they love - say, a wannabe writer who also likes photography very much and can turn that into a lucrative freelance gig - more power to you, and I wish I could have the same kind of fortune as that hypothetical person.
It’s a unique dichotomy, right? People want you to ‘follow your dreams’, to do what will make you happy - but they simultaneously charge you to ‘be practical’. And I can’t blame both of them. They’re both good. But only one can be fulfilling.
I usually avoid The Onion - sometimes it’s solid satire, and other times… but then this op-ed happened:
It could be anything—music, writing, drawing, acting, teaching—it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that once you know what you want to do, you dive in a full 10 percent and spend the other 90 torturing yourself because you know damn well that it’s far too late to make a drastic career change, and that you’re stuck on this mind-numbing path for the rest of your life.
Is there any other way to live?
I can’t stress this enough: Do what you love…in between work commitments, and family commitments, and commitments that tend to pop up and take immediate precedence over doing the thing you love.
Delightful, isn’t it? Why?
This is what the dichotomy means. This is your parents telling you that wanting to be a musician or a dancer is ‘quaint’. This is who Tarrus Riley is addressing in that one song he wrote.
This is the face, the really exaggerated face, of people who don’t get how much you may feel about the thing you love doing.
And I’ll be real: it’s a dragon I have no idea how to slay.
I mean, for the most part they’re right. I could write a book and still starve. Chances are that’s what’ll happen, no matter how actually brilliant it may be.
But I don’t know exactly how much that’ll bother me, either. In my head, I think if I were to write a book now, while I’m still doing nothing, before I actually get a job, I’d feel a whole lot better about the cubicle slavery. It means I can, and it means I have no good reason not to do it again, and over and over again at that. Even if it’s a little serial on my writing blog that I know people are actually reading, I’d absolutely enjoy just the idea that people are gaining some kind of fulfillment from reading my stuff. That’s one of the things I really love about writing - it’s an opportunity for me, personally, to write to be noticed, to have an opinion that no one cuts me off from expressing, and to have people really relate to it and be part of a discussion even if they don’t agree. And if I can know that I can do that, I will.
This is not me saying I would like a nine-to-five. I mean, I write in the afternoon, over several cups of tea (because the really delightfully aptly named Writers Tears Irish Whiskey is too expensive to import). Put me in a cubicle and I will, as Ferguson’s op-ed describes, pass out in the dead of night, dreaming myself rapidly from chapter to chapter, but having written nothing. I enjoy doing nothing. I only want to write something that will feed me so I can have the freedom to keep writing without hindrance.
And things like this - addresses to the Prize-Fixed Eye and the Cloud-Fixed Eye alike - drive me in really unnerving ways. Which, I think, is what I need.
Your personality is not set in stone. You may think a morning coffee is the most enjoyable thing in the world, but it’s really just a habit. Thirty days without it, and you would be fine. You think you have a soul mate, but in fact you could have had any number of spouses. You would have evolved differently, but been just as happy.
You can change what you want about yourself at any time. You see yourself as someone who can’t write or play an instrument, who gives in to temptation or makes bad decisions, but that’s really not you. It’s not ingrained. It’s not your personality. Your personality is something else, something deeper than just preferences, and these details on the surface, you can change anytime you like.
If it is useful to do so, you must abandon your identity and start again. Sometimes, it’s the only way.
Set fire to your old self. It’s not needed here. It’s too busy shopping, gossiping about others, and watching days go by and asking why you haven’t gotten as far as you’d like. This old self will die and be forgotten by all but family, and replaced by someone who makes a difference.
Your new self is not like that. Your new self is the Great Chicago Fire—overwhelming, overpowering, and destroying everything that isn’t necessary."
Julien Smith (via fuckoff-mondays)
If you haven’t read The Flinch, you should.
Staying creative is tough enough as it is, but eventually you end up with a backlog of ideas sitting around that you plan on getting to at some point.