Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Starting over and making it happen this time.

It's been quite a while since I've written in this blog. I didn't think I had anything new to report, other than gaining more fans on Facebook. The truth was, in some ways I'd given up.

See, I've been afraid my entire life to truly embrace my destiny as a writer. Everyone always told me that writers can not make money, for the most part, and that I should have a job to fall back on. Sound, practical advice. The problem is that I'm one of those people who is not cut out for a 9-5 job.

Nevertheless, I persevered in the belief that I would have an ordinary job and write in my spare time. I taught for two years because in addition to needing to write and needing to eat, I need to feel I am making a difference in the world. But teaching left me so exhausted that I couldn't write much. Last year was particularly difficult because I was in a school environment in which the emphasis was on politics, not teaching. I was not liked because of my stubborn belief that I was there to make a difference and my equally idealistic belief that non-verbal autistic children are teachable. The entire year was an uphill battle, in which the principal and some of my fellow teachers seemed to live to make my life miserable. I very often stayed up until 2 or 3 in the morning, trying to escape the misery of my job situation by hanging out with friends or creating art/writing. At the end of the year I chose not to come back.

A wise decision, to be sure, but I still needed to eat, so I got a summer job. I worked in a phone store. Sometimes I put batteries in phones or put items on shelves. Often, I had nothing to do. I had to be there until 6 in the evening. I felt time being wasted away by this job. I felt keenly that I was worth more than putting batteries in phones and stickers on boxes. And yet with the economy the way it was, and my savings as low as they were, how dare I question the fact that I had a job?

All this time, all these months, I was not writing a word. I came home from work at 6:30 PM to eat supper and forget the world by getting on Facebook. Then I went to bed so that I could get up and do it all over again in the morning. I was always exhausted, no matter how much sleep I got.It just seemed I was wasting my life. But there didn't seem a way out of it.

Then, on August 31, I got laid off from my job.

I'm the happiest I've been in months despite not having another job. Oh, I'm not stupid enough to think I can live without money. I've applied for unemployment and it'll give me a little something to get by on. And I've applied for a few teaching jobs just in case. But I'm not worried, not stressed, not anything.

I've been in this situation before, where I couldn't find a job. I've always been worried about how I'm going to pay the rent. But this time is different.

Since I got laid off, I've made the decision to go into business as a freelancer. I wake up when I want to wake up and spend the day in productive activity. I've already made a little bit of money from freelance jobs and it looks like I might make some more. I'm writing every day and fully expect to be done with a draft of Shades of Gay within a month. My time is my own, my life is my own... and I know I will be able to support myself with this eventually.

The path I'm on is scary at times because I'm not quite sure of what I'm doing or if it's right. It's also a natural extension of who I am as a person. The same spirit that drove me to open my own publishing company is driving me to find a way to make money without being tied to a regular job. I have enough in savings and coming to me in unemployment to give this a go for a few months. And I know that this is the path G-d has carved out for me.

I've considered doing something like this many, many times, and I've pulled back from it. See, in the past I was looking at it as out of my control. The choices were live in a house and have a job, or live on the streets without one. I thought the only way I could make money is if people actually bought my book. It wasn't happening with Winter's Silence, probably because I didn't do enough to make it happen. So I thought, I need to have financial security in order to save the money to create Shades of Gay and then pray that customers respond more strongly to it than they did to Winter's Silence.

All of that is the wrong way to think. Being successful as a writer isn't a matter of luck or fate. I'm not the victim of the economy or people's lack of interest or anything else my brain could come up with for why I may fail.

The correct way to think is the way I'm finally thinking now. I want to make enough money to support myself and my writing. How do I make that happen?

I've long wanted a job as an editorial assistant, but there don't seem to be any positions like that in this area, and I can't afford to move right now. So I have to MAKE the position I want--from my home. I've already gotten some freelance editing clients, and as I see how much I can do in a day I'm sure I can get some more. I have plenty of ideas for promotion. I've put a lot of energy into hunting for jobs that I never get because I don't have "enough experience". Now it's time to put that energy into editing and writing.

Shades of Gay will be written and published on time, and it will be a success. No doubt about it. I am CHOOSING this path, and I am making it happen.

I wouldn't recommend this path for everyone. You have to have a lot of ambition, a lot of talent, and most importantly a lot of self-discipline. You also need to have enough money coming in to pay your bills while you get established. But for me it is a matter of survival. I can not live the life I want to live and have a traditional job. My dreams are too big for that and my lifestyle too different.

Will I take the teaching position I applied for if I get it? Sure. But I would have to find a way to work around it so I can keep moving towards my dream. I'm secretly hoping NOT to get it so that I don't have to live by someone else's schedule. But even if I do, this is it for me, the last year I'm going to do this. I will be working behind the scenes to make things happen so I don't have to answer to anyone else for my living.