Monday, November 26, 2007

22 years wasted?

It seems so. Several people, here and elsewhere, have suggested that I need to change my scene completely, go somewhere else, do different things.

Well-intentioned for sure, and I love each and every one of them for caring, but damn rough on the ego.

As I mentioned, I am only a few months shy of 22 years as a writer. I recently went back and looked at Story #1; I wouldn't write it the same way now, but it was damn good. And it was for a major magazine in my field, which served as an entrée to a horde of magazines who then bought my stuff.

If I was to list the result, there would be approximately 1500 stories -- ranging from 500 to more than 6000 words -- in maybe 50 different publications.

That's the good side, of course.

There was the magazine I created, edited and wrote for, which -- for reasons that had nothing to do with quality -- lasted for exactly two issues. There were other publications that took me for granted, and still do.

And people are suggesting I walk away from all that.

What can a 57 year-old man, who has few marketable skills (beyond a certain craft with words, an ability to service pipe organs, do tasks in the animated-film business (that have long ago been abandoned) and is alone in the world, do to earn a living?

Not much, Jim.

That's doubly true when he would have to leave behind a mountain of, well, stuff*, and would take a large amount of debt along with him.

I thought, foolishly, that one day my skills, expertise and dedication to my craft would pay off. Hasn't happened.

And yet, there is still something about the work I do that attracts me. Part of that is the reaction of some I respect, who love (or at least are polite about) reading what I write.

For some reason, I remember visiting a friend in the hospital years ago. He shared his room with someone else who actually recognized my name from some stories I had written. I made this poor sick -- dying, actually -- dude's day by autographing a magazine for him.

For many reasons, I can't seem to find a situation I'd prefer, even though writing has done a great deal to destroy my life. I made mistakes, true, but I had help. Lots of it.

A "career" that leaves you alone in the world and broke is not good and yet I, and others like me, keep on trying to make it happen.

We are fools.

Despite what I said in an earlier post, I really wish someone could come along and make things better. I couldn't do it; maybe someone else could.

Or maybe I'm simply destined to end up on the trash heap, no matter what I do.

Forgive me. This is a self-pity kind of night. I made decisions, they turned out to be wrong. And I feel more isolated than ever.

This is going to be a long, cold, unhappy night.

I bought this life, and now I'm paying for it. Wasn't supposed to be this way.



* And destroy a few things he shouldn't have kept, which would cause severe embarrassment to someone he stupidly thought might one day return.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

reading this post...made me wish i could only do half as much as you have. then, this 57 year old could deem some sort of success for his life. the more i learn about you....it amazes me! you are a successful writer undoubtedly to have made a living at it for this length of time. like somebody said to me once, keep on....keeping on:)

Bud

John said...

You have more marketable skills that any of the presidential candidates or the one in office. No help, but true.
Hopefully you won't have to shift to something else unless it is better. Your skills apply to more than one niche. You or people more closely familiar with that world would know better than me. Have you discussed these things with others with a similar career? What would you tell a colleague in a similar fix?

John said...

The years are not wasted. I know how it feels to think they are. You have name and reputation, brains and skill. I hope you ca make them pay for it. Anything less is wrong.
I'm hoping for some window to open that will show the way.

lowandslow said...

You're a lucky man to have the talents you do and a career you enjoy. But from what I've heard and read many "creative types", which includes literary talents, have a tough time making their craft financially profitable. All while some computer geeks can just roll out of bed in the morning and fall into a pile of money. Life just isn't fair. :(

Anonymous said...

I always wanted to be able to write. Some how I never can seem to get started. Think of it this way. Some of us really do envy your ability, and way with words. As for mistakes, God help us. None of use gets out of this thing called life with out our scares.
Roz

DK said...

Why must we find a "career" new or otherwise...go make coffee part time as great barista at a local coffee tavern....dig yourself out of the hole and see something, do something different and call it a new hobby

DAL said...

I would never suggest that you give up writing, just as I don't listen to someone who suggests I take it up :-)

I just think you need a change of venue. As far as debts are concerned, people much wealthier and higher profile than you have had those troubles, and survived.

I have made a lot of bad decisions, starting with high school and the subjects I took, right up to things I have done recently online.