It’s been a trying past few…whiles.
The past few days in particular, I’ve been feeling very frustrated and disheartened about a lot of things in my life. I had a bunch of topics I was going to write about but none of them are coming to me. (One I can’t remember what I meant by my note, so that will take some thinking.) So in many ways, this is going to be a bit of a rant–but I’m also looking for some inspiration from y’all. So. Bear with me.
I’ve never really been one to look at my age and go “OH GOD I HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING WITH MY LIFE AND I’M SO OLD OH NO” because for the most part, I’m pleased with a lot of stuff I’ve done. I earned an MFA, I’ve traveled to several different countries, I’ve had three short stories professionally published. I have a YouTube and a blog which I’ve (finally) been keeping up to date for just over a year now. I’ve done a lot.
But there is still a piece of me that looks around and sees what everyone has…that I don’t.
Inevitably, some of this is personal. I’m at the age where all of my contemporaries seem to be getting married/engaged, having children, buying houses, getting promotions, etc. Me? I’m single, working an essentially-minimum-wage job, renting with my parents. And for the moment, none of that seems likely to change any time soon. Not for lack of trying–not for lack of desire. Just lack of opportunity, it seems.
Several of my friends and colleagues from graduate school have gotten jobs with publishing companies, editing firms, places like that. They’ve been able to find a job doing what they enjoy, or at least one in the same conversation as their passion. It lets them focus on their own writing when they come home. On the other hand, I work in food service–strange hours, high stress (particularly for an incredibly strong introvert like myself), and for me, usually late at night. I’ve tried getting up in the morning to be more active, and sometimes it works, but I am in my heart of hearts, a night owl. And when I get home at midnight after an eight-hour dinner shift, my mind is anywhere but the worlds of my novels. I wake up in the morning and I’m still exhausted, no matter how early or late I wake up. I lose myself in YouTube videos because that’s what my brain has the energy for.
On top of this, I desperately need to get my weight and health under control. I want to go out and walk. There are a bunch of parks near me with walking paths, and I’ve got a handful of apps that will give me extra encouragement to be out there doing something. What happens? I remember everything else I need to be doing. I have videos to make, I have blogs to write, I have an audiobook project, I have…I have…I have. And my mind is overwhelmed. And I watch YouTube. And I don’t do anything I want to do.
My current novel project, my long-standing manuscript, my baby of something like eight years now, is eluding me. My vampires need to change their name. As beings affected by a virus, the horror genre reads “virus” as “zombie.” Calling them then something else is confusing–at least, so my mentors tell me. I’m encouraged more of the genre to get a feel for what else is out there. The trouble for me is that I feel like changing the name isn’t going to be enough. There’s something more that needs to give–and I’m not willing to sacrifice that much of my novel for a name change. Maybe this is me fighting against “kill your darlings,” but there needs to be a line somewhere. I’ll change the name, but who and what they are needs to remain the same. I think it’s doable, but I don’t have the words. Take away the words “vampire” and “werewolf” and they begin to look like mutants a la X-Men. Okay, but I obviously can’t use that word. So what do I say? Learning what other people call them isn’t going to give me a name they aren’t using.
So I sit, and I stare at the book, and the characters beg me to write–to work on their story–to work toward getting them published…and I turn away, fighting back tears because I am so…frustrated…that I don’t know how to do that for them. I have wanted nothing more than to be a writer. I know this now. But it truly feels like no matter how hard I work, no matter how far I push, I will always be one step short of actually being able to do it successfully.
And I certainly can’t seem to find a way to make it my living.
I don’t expect to be J.K. Rowling. I’m not going to magically (no pun intended) create an amazing book and then be able to sit back and just write books for forever. I’m not expecting an immediate fix. I just want something. I want there to be a break somewhere for me to find and jump on. Every time I go looking, it turns out to be a scam. Or I never hear back. Or…or…or.
People have said they like my stories. People have said they think I have talent. I’m willing to put in the work; I’m willing to make the sacrifices. I just can’t find a place to hook myself into and let myself start the process. I’m always that one step short. Alistair and the other infected remain without a name. I continue on in my starving-artist job which I like, but kills my spirit and my ability to focus on what I do love. (I love the café but god I’m tired all the time.) I look for jobs, I try and search…and I find nothing.
I want this. I need this. I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life. I am a writer. I need to find a way to be in this field.
And there is a little voice in the back of my head that tells me I never will.