Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What I want...

...seems a dead stupid thing to think about right now, given the situation as reported in the previous post. At the moment, I have very little, and am three days away from losing it all.

But I need a break from making calls to various support agencies (and getting sympathy but no help), leaving messages in friends' voice-mail boxes, and a steadily increasing run of panic attacks that accompany staring personal disaster in the face.

I hinted at the "what I want" notion below: Time and experience have boiled down my desires to the essentials for happiness: a roof, regular meals, a place to work, and freedom from constant stress. Maybe, as a bonus, the ability to take an occasional trip or even a stay-home vacation. Companionship? Love? Gave up on those.

Having a roof overhead and food in the larder should be a common attainment for all human beings. No explanation of my desire for them is needed.

But work and freedom from stress are another matter. Everyone who has read my journal for any length of time knows I have for years made my living -- sometimes decently; sometimes, as now, pitifully -- as a writer.

It would be a dumb kind of career except for one important point: I love writing. When a story begins to flow out from between my ears to my typing fingers, there is a joy that's hard to describe. When I read finished copy and feel I've done well, I'm as happy as anyone can be.

That love has lasted, despite the ups and downs of dealing with publishers. When they act unethically -- and, in my corner of the business, most do, which is a far cry from the situation that existed when I started 24 years ago -- the basic love isn't soured.

I was reminded of this by the friends with whom I have spoken today. One linked some of my work to a post she sent out to friends who might help me find a gig. I took a moment to re-read the articles, and was reminded of the pleasure I got from writing them. They were, if I say so myself, pretty good.

The other friend is a writer as well, one whose words perform a stylish, rhythmic ballet across a page. Good as I am, I find my work somewhat clumsy by comparison. That's fine with me, however; If I were still editing a magazine* I'd hire her in a heartbeat. I always tried to sign up people I judged to be more talented than I.

So I love writing. With a passion. I might be forced to leave it (for a while, anyway) but, even if I someday were to became independently wealthy, I'd continue to write and do my damndest to be published.

Stress is another matter. The stress of doing work is acceptable. In good times, I sometimes had a full load of assignments and still accepted more from people who, for one reason or another, I didn't want to refuse. Sleepless nights? Yes. Eye strain from sitting too long at the computer? Definitely. A feeling that I was missing out on whatever was happening outside while chained to my desk? Absolutely.

But that kind of strain left no harmful aftereffects in its wake. The current stress is all about survival. That exacts a destructive toll from both mind and body.

The vacation/time off thought needs no explanation. I will say that there was a time when my work helped provide the vacations.

Companionship and love? That does need at least a small correction. There are some people who have rallied to me during the current mess. Though geographically far away, they are expressing both companionship and love. I need it, am intensely grateful for it. If certain elements are missing, they are not missed, at least right now; I'm in no shape to either give or receive them. I would rather think with great fondness of what is being offered, and can only hope that the day comes when I am in a position to do something to make great days for those people even greater**.

Writing this doesn't change my circumstances, of course. But, in the spirit of making myself fully understood, I wanted to say that my love for what I've done, and what I want to keep doing, is bruised but not dead.

And posting this gives me a chance to express open gratitude for people who bring the word "friendship" to life. That's not at all new or unusual for them.

* Which, some years ago, I did for a short time (two issues) that was brought to an abrupt close when the publisher took the advertising money and paid off her personal debts, leaving me, the writers and photographers I hired, and the printer high and dry.

** I won't say "I hope I can help them equally one day." They should not have to deal with a situation like mine. Ever.


Ben said...

My offer stands. No great accomodations here, but better than the streets. Seems as if the Finster has also offered such, of which I am sure his living accoutrements are undoubtedly far superior than mine. Regardless, I wish only hope and the best for you.

Ptolemy said...

Post somewhere, anywhere, how you are, please... People across the country care! MY NEIGHBOR pulled me aside in church today to ask if I had heard how you are... Small world and all. Let us know. Please, take care.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Ben and Ptolemy...I hope you're OK. Can you post something, call someone, anything to let us know you're all right? Please....