Sunday Evening Ramblings

This post is my attempt to put into words what I’ve been feeling about my life and career if for no other reason than to make sense of it for myself.  Perhaps this is something I shouldn’t admit publicly, but the best word that comes to mind is desperate.  I feel like my window is closing.  That may just be a product of turning 40, but I truly feel like my chances of having a breakthrough during my lifetime are growing slimmer by the day.  I still believe in the quality of my work and still maintain that I’ve grown and improved with each book, but what I’ve never had is that one big moment, that tipping point when word of mouth and momentum become self-sustaining.  I used to tell myself it was just a matter of time, but now, I’m not so sure.

I don’t want fame or wealth, either.  I don’t need to sell millions of books to validate myself.  What I do need is to earn a living as a writer, but it seems like there is very little middle ground today.  You either have a runaway bestseller or are mired in obscurity.  At least that’s my perception.  The bestsellers today are rarely the best books, either.  Sorry Twilight fans, but those books always have been and always will be vapid piles of poorly written, steaming horseshit.  The fact that Stephanie Meyer never has to work another day makes it hard not to be bitter.  But I digress.

I feel trapped in education.  Trapped.  A suffocating kind of trapped. A long, slow soul crushing kind of trapped.  Every single time I have to drive to and walk inside the high school, a little piece of me dies.  I’m not a high school teacher in any way, shape, or form, and I can’t begin to explain how depressing the environment is.  Every time I grade semi-literate, poorly organized, poorly formatted essays from supposed college students, I feel myself getting dumber.  I feel my own writing skills eroding from the overexposure to inane shit.  Every time I have to re-explain basic instructions to supposed college students, only to have half of them completely ignore me for whatever reason, I feel like screaming.  I want out so desperately I can’t stand myself, but finding a new career is easier said than done in this economy.  I’m also afraid that a career change now will mean the end of my writing career, as well.

I never expected a writer’s life to be easy, but I didn’t expect it to be this hard, either.  The rules have changed at least three times already in my 20+ years in this business.  What was once gospel is now obsolete, and no one I’ve met actually knows what the landscape will be tomorrow.  It’s maddening to navigate uncharted territory with little more than a flashlight.  Then, of course, as if things weren’t difficult enough already, Facebook decided to pull a bait and switch and betray those of us who had spent years building up our fan base on their platform.  Now, I’m scrambling to learn the foreign language known as Twitter.

I’m trying to channel my feelings of desperation into a sense of urgency.  Those who’ve worked in sales know what I mean.  Urgency breeds excitement, and excitement is contagious.  For the next few months, I plan to make a big push and use every sales, marketing, promotional technique I know.  I’ll try to hit a few shows, pursue as many avenues as I can, and make my best possible effort to make this happen.  One way or the other, I will not walk through the doors of that high school next fall.  One way or the other, at least that part of my career will change.

6 thoughts on “Sunday Evening Ramblings”

  1. Well summed up. It is hard. Keep moving forward and hoping for the right place at the right time. Bob Salvatore told me a couple of months ago that plenty of people work harder than him and are more talented than him, but he was in the right place at the right time. Just keep wrting and hoping. I have a feeling about your work. I think your time is somewhere close. I can relate. We just want to share our work and for our work to be what we do. Good luck.

  2. you are still young,,still have your whole life ahead of you, you may not see it,,,you may not want to see it. but it is there, you must remember the old cliche,,,,Rome was not built in a day. it takes time, and there is a perfect time for everything. you may not like dealing with all those kids who seem to be unteachable, but you are overlooking that one, yes one in the class you are reaching. you are where you need to be in life right now, you have a purpose for being there, and until you fulfill that purpose, life will not move on no matter how much you push it. keep in mind that one kid you are making an impact on…good luck to you on your path and your journey.

  3. Funny, not funny haha, but funny strange, noticed that you had requested me to add you on Google Plus (something I hardly ever look at) and ended up here.

    I took a couple of low blows myself over the last couple of days and although your situation seems to be of a longer term pressure build up and perhaps more disheartening in that you feel you are trapped in something you don’t like I think I may have some ideas that might help.

    1. Writing is a tough game but there are many writers making a decent living who are not “breakout bestsellers” – most of the ones I know got “lucky” after years and years of hard work. Perhaps not what you wanted to hear, however the point is that it isn’t a huge hit or nothing – there are many who make a living on the rungs below mega bestseller.

    2. If you’re feeling trapped in the environment you’re in – then get out of it. While that is easier said than done, the realities of bill payments and so on, what you can do is start working actively to get out of that environment – you’re not doing yourself or the kids a favor by being there. If writing fiction is not possible to jump to – then figure out something else that you might like to do (I’ve changed “careers” in a major way three times in my life, each time was a deliberate and planned “out” because I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing).

    Living with the status quo of misery will ultimately affect everything you are and do; so start planning – copywriter at an ad agency, organic vegetable grower – the world really is wide open but you have to be the one to force the move.

    3. Being down, desperate and feeling miserable doesn’t help. It doesn’t help the writing, it doesn’t help the day job and it doesn’t help planning and executing on change – figure out a way to get upbeat and stay that way.

    4. An easy way to get upbeat is to focus on what is good in your life and build on that goodness.

    5. Exercise – get the endorphins going – cheapest narcotic on the planet, comes built in all you got to do is raise a sweat.

    Well, don’t want to sound preachy or know it all (I certainly don’t and take pleasure in that knowledge) but it seemed I ended up here for a reason and that was to share how I deal with tough times.

    Have a great day,

    A fellow writer.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to reply with such a thoughtful comment. I’m going to start actively searching for a new job because you’re correct. Staying in a poor environment will negatively impact every aspect of my life. I used to love teaching, but the system has been destroyed.

      1. Great. It’s scary coming off the nipple of known entity; and exhilarating. Best of luck in your journey.

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