Sunday, January 27, 2008

A break in the rain...

...and there's quite a bit of blue sky outside, though more rain is supposedly headed this way.

PARENTHETICAL BE-WARNED NOTE: This entry may vanish. It is incredibly painful for me to see it here. The truth hurts, especially when it's about one's own self.

I woke up depressed. It's getting progressively worse as the day goes on. I wouldn't call it so much clinical depression as facing reality. Reality is about as bad as it gets right now.

For those who think I'm permanently wallowing in some scummy pond of self-pity, I'll talk about my mistakes first.

In three words, I blew it. I have known for some time that my work is being paid for at rates lower than those I received from the magazines I was working for in, say, 2000. The check I (finally) received yesterday, one of several that should have been here some time ago, brought that home with painful clarity. It is, by my reckoning, roughly half what it should have been, given the time I took in researching, writing, re-researching (to add information the editor wanted) and word count.

At that rate, I would have to write something on the order of six or seven similar stories a week to have a comfortable income, and there simply are not 400 working hours in a week.

So why have I put up with this? Simple. I foolishly continued to work for people who promised me lots of assignments and haven't come through, and promised to pay more. They lied (or at least created false impressions), and I accepted the lies as truth. It's arrogance, or perhaps more accurately, ego on my part.

And I foolishly allowed myself to think that better clients would somehow appear. There are a few out there, but I simply don't have the means to get them interested in me. And there is an element of type-casting as well, which simply means that many editors are unwilling to make the assumption (correct as it happens to be) that because I can write well about Subject X, I can also handle Subject Y with equal skill and grace.

Finally, among the list of personal bad traits, let's add one more: I have been dealing with these issues (and many more) for a number of years. A point comes -- at least for me -- when the endless struggle becomes too much, and my mind simply shuts down. I do nothing. I cannot think of options. I'm fighting that now, and have experienced it several times in recent years.

That too, I suppose, is ego. I mean, I'm damn good at what I do -- better than almost anyone else who does it -- and cannot imagine that it hasn't been discovered and rewarded. You might say I have allowed it to go unrewarded, by choosing to work for weasels. That's right, too.

So, in this corner, a guy nearing his 58th year, who is unlikely to be able to start a new career. Only top business execs get to do that, and they all have strong financial cushions in place in case they fall.

I don't want to do that, anyway, even if I could. I have no idea what else I can do, especially in a region and time when cheap labor is plentiful and such skills as I possess have been reduced from "admired and well-paid" to "minimum-wage dead-end."

Yeah, the latter is demonstrably true. I've looked into a few "possibilities."

And it is almost certainly too late to think of major changes.

The next week or two will likely see a number of chickens coming home to roost, and the results will not be pretty. My state of mental inertia is such that they will not hurt as much as they should. I will simply accept them and be washed away by the inevitable tide.

I have not treated myself to a lavish lifestyle while the whole mass collapsed around my ears. I have pulled back, over and over, from spending. I have plenty of debt, but it is not from wild credit-card sprees or splurging on big-screen TVs or resort vacations.

The list of "what ifs" is endless. From what I can tell, had other (non-business) aspects not crumbled around me when my best shot at the old brass ring failed back in 2000-2001, I might have simply taken a local gig in whatever field was available simply to keep the rest of my life -- and those in it -- happy and intact. I might have done that at other times, too.

But being alone does not inspire you -- or at least me -- to give up the sensuous but murderous bitch-goddess of "creativity." It makes you fight for what little is left to you, makes you hang on tight, pour energy into it and believe it will not collapse around you.

Bad move.

Can I pull off one more comeback? I don't know. I seem to be wired in a way -- and this, too, appears to be major flaw in my character -- that making big moves requires inspiration, in the same way as does writing. The reason has to be more than me, stupid as that may sound to the self-assured among you.

So there you have it. Feel free to tell me what to do or be critical. I will probably agree with most of the negative assessments.

I have said before that no one who has not gone through all this, who has a stable job/career/loved one who kicks in some support to the things moving can understand, and I still believe that.

In fact, I hope you can't understand. It would bring you down as badly as it has me.

I wouldn't put a dime down on a bet that I'll be in better shape a month or six months from now. Even if I had one to spare.

I've made the effort, believe me. But it now seems clear I made the wrong effort, in the wrong way, for the wrong reasons.

And -- the self-pity goes here -- I would like to thank those who falsely encouraged, took advantage of, lied to, played on the emotions of, and in general grabbed what they could get from me over the years, in both the personal and professional arenas. You all felt the right to do this without giving back, and I didn't know how to make you keep your sides of innumerable "bargains." I thought you would be honorable and truthful simply because I was, and because it was the right thing to do.

I couldn't have made such a major, total monumental screw-up of my life without each and every one of you.


DAL said...

Although I have what is perhaps a decent income, it is nowhere near what others earn in a similar line of work. In fact, I went without a raise for a number of years and never complained about it.

I am just as guilty of allowing inertia to keep me where I am, and there is no where to go but sideways. Maybe I could be a successful vagabond like our Memphis friend aspires to be.

Wanna make it three for the road, Scribbs?

MrScribbler said...

dal -- Taking the vagabond route seems more and more appealing. I used to want to leave something behind -- in my case, a body of work -- but now I'd rather have a laugh or two before the third strike is called.

susananne said...

I cant begin to understand how you are feeling Mr Scribs, I wish i had the answers for you. Sending you a big hug..

Janedoe007 said...

Been there a few times...hard to put your own foot in your own ass and make waves eh?!

DAL said...

I love that mixed metaphor, JD :-)

John said...

Up until the last, I identified close to a hundred percent. Going blank on options has plagued me forever. That feels like being a deer in the headlights.
Supply he trailer or roof top carrier, share the fuel expenses and we can make room.
Seat could get taken by suitable female at any time. Probably won't last long so hitch a ride to the next stop and the seat will probably be open again.
You can still leave behind even more body of work than you already have.
I'm more in tune to find some enjoyment now than to worry what what gets left behind.