Monday, May 08, 2006

not writing, or, the ubiquitously boring problems of the english major.

i don't write enough. this may come as a surprising contention to those of you who notice how often i post on this blog, but it's true. i don't write like i used to, and i don't write like i could. i need to figure out what to do about it.

as i mentioned awhile back, i'm going through one of those "hmmm, what shall i do with the rest of my life?" periods. i don't imagine i'll be in my current job past my 26th birthday (that's in august, by the by), and on the off chance that i don't win the lottery between now and then, i need to decide what to do next. of course, there are many mitigating factors to this decision.

for one, i am part of a couple now, and while this brings me much happiness in many ways, it also means that i have to take not only my own needs and desires into consideration, but another person's as well! shit, who knew? but actually, this has been relatively easy for BoyCat and i to manage for the last three years - during the first year and a half we were in grad school together already, and for the second year and a half we've been living in chicago, a mutually agreed upon locale. we've both been doing work that pays the bills and that doesn't make us totally crazy (well, there was a little stretch there for BoyCat, but he can tell you about it later if he'd like). but now, coming up on the time when we need to decide whether we're signing another year-long lease in this fair city or not, and when he in a prime position to look for a new job, we have some big decisions to make. together.

obviously, before we start debating the merits of boston, washington d.c., miami, podunk iowa, etc, i need to get a handle on where i want to go with my career. at this point, i have a solid body of experience in non-profit development, and could easily stick around the field if i wanted. but i don't want that. i could attempt to segue into communications, ideally non-profit but potentially for-profit, but from what i can tell this is difficult with only one solid year of communications-based work under my belt. this is demoralizing, but not completely insurmountable. if i had an insatiable drive to be a communications director somewhere, i'm sure i could figure out a way to do it.

therein lies the rub, though - i really don't have an insatiable drive to be a communications director. so i feel like i need to decide now whether i'm ok with that and pursue it anyway, or give the road less travelled a try now, before it's too late. the road less travelled, if you're not anticipating the circular nature of this post, is trying to write for a living.

writing for a living is actually almost impossible. i know this. i didn't get spit out of grad school with rose-colored glasses intact (for more on this, ask me what i hate about academia). i know that in order to be a writer, some crazy negotitations would have to be made and uncertainties would have to be lived with. but i have to ask myself*, if you're ever going to try to make this work, shouldn't you do it now? before you settle for the next decent job because you can't handle the one that you have now? before you wake up in 10 years as a communications director and realize that you hate it? before you sit in your little beach cottage at age 65 and regret not trying to be a writer for some nebulous reason - insecurity, laziness, timidity, fear?

i don't write like i used to. and i'm not sure that i ever will. but does that mean that i shouldn't write again? that i shouldn't buckle down and give it one good chance before giving up the ghost?

lately, when i stare at the ceiling trying to sleep, this is what i wonder. one of these waking days, i'll figure it out.

*it took every ounce of restraint that i had not to write "i couldn't help but wonder..." and make a bad sex and the city joke. but who are we kidding, i'd give my right arm to have carrie bradshaw's gig.


Lola Mason said...


Kate said...

And what would happen if you took those acquired grantwriting skills and wrote some grants for yourself? Write a grant for you and BoyCat to travel, or just you. Write a grant to get some money to write a book.

Look at private high schools/boarding schools and see if you can get a job as a sports coach or writer in residence.

The world is at your feet Kate.D.!

Cinnamon said...

About three years ago I realized that I already had a condo I didn't want to give up, a relationship I had no interest in leaving behind, a standard of living that I really liked, and a job that I liked but that didn't fulfill me as much as I hoped. I had hobbies, but they felt selfish.

Three years later I have a small business that sucks up a lot of my free time, the same job, a bigger home, the same relationship, bags under my eyes, the knowledge that I'm doing things I really enjoy, and the satisfaction of knowing that when I'm sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch I won't regret that I didn't try.

Someday I hope to make my second job my only job. And it's hard having two jobs. But it's worth it. Maybe you need to shoot for a day job that pays the bills, doesn't suck away your soul, and then look for creative fulfillment from yourself.

Stacey said...

That's one of my greatest fears, too - not living up to whatever potential I have and whetever dreams I once dreamed. What would my 10-year old self think of me?

As Adam Sandler says in "Mr. Deeds", "But you're not those things you wanted to be, are you? Everybody made a compromise, then another compromise, and now . . . I bet if we ran into the third grade versions of ourselves right now, they would kick our asses and put Bubble Yum in our hair."

I say go for it, Kate!

Momcat said...

Hey Kate..
You wouldn't even be here had I not lived on the 3rd floor of a YWCA, then slept on the hardwood floor of an empty apartment..cause the job was toooo good to pass up:) In Cattown no less!

Now is the time to figure out a way to go for it...however it turns out... and there won't have to be any "I should of's" down the line...

However, I also think the Boston area..with all that gorgeous extremely conducive to your creative output:)

Roni said...

Chica, you're young enough to get to where you want. I totally understand the "i don't know what i want to be when i grow up" bit. The hubby's been going thru it for a few years. And he's making way too much money for him to turn around and be someone's intern. So go for it.

dorothy rothschild said...

Do you have an idea of the kind of writing you actually want to do? Do you want to do creative writing? Or are you more interested in journalistic writing?

Freelance careers are possible, but it takes time to make the connections, to build up to it.

So you would need a day job conducive to that, one that doesn't sap your mental energy.

I have a friend who is a freelance fashion/catalog copywriter and she makes a lot of money per hour doing that. She's also a poet. And she has an MFA and the connections that came with that. Obviously, she's not going to ever be able to make a living as a poet. Who can? But she's managed, over about a seven year period to ease into her freelance copywriting situation.

Speaking from direct experience here, if you're not digging the nonprofit development biz, you probably won't dig communications much either. It's really very much the same, with very little room for creativity. The writing is quite mechanical and formulaic.

There's always advertising!

Really though, figuring out what kind of writing you want to do and what role in your life you want it to have will be a good first step in unraveling this.

kate.d. said...

thanks for the thoughts and advice, everyone, i appreciate it. i'm sure i'll be thinking (and posting) a fair amount about this in the coming months, and i might eventually be sending out emails to some of you (i'm looking at you here, dottie!) with some more specific questions about this whole freelance writing thing.

but for now, just thanks!

jayniek said...

yea, i'm just gonna have to call you.
prepare yourself.