Saturday, March 29, 2008

Collateral Damage

You know, there's something to be said for the mindset of a working writer, and I'm here to say it. I normally don't soapbox so vehemently, but things have transpired to the point where I need to do something.

I'm a writer. Not your plucking around, lazy ass down and out angst-more-than-work One Day Writer. I was one, once. Not too long ago, even. But I'm done with that. That went out with 2007 and a bunch of other stuff that was on my back. I threw the baby out with the bathwater.

Good thing, too. It was a vicious little thumbsucker.

Now I'm a working writer. As the Luchadors are known to say, We don't fuck around here, seƱor.

That means this is my job. It's what I do, it's who I am. Someone asks me what I do, I tell them I'm a writer. No shame, no hesitation. You know why? Because that's what I am. It's what I do.

Right now it's shitty, the hours suck and the pay is nonexistant. I do pro bono book writing for nothing more than the hope of the future and the emotional and mental satisfaction. It's nice--finishing a novel is the equivalent of a three day orgy without the hangover, the eventual failed drug tests, and the possibility of the clap. But it's what I do. I work a bill-paying job, and then I come home and work this job for free because I believe in it and myself and everything that comes along with it. I don't make excuses for it, I don't feel bad about it.

But it is a job. And like all jobs, I make sacrifices for it. As I should. Because I'm a writer. I'm not sitting here indulging in angsty "I hate my writing I'm going to burn it all" crap, though I do so from time to time (usually at the same time that I'm blazing through words and pages in another window). I work through it, like I need to.

I do this every day, if I can. I try very hard to. As far as I'm concerned, a day without writing is like an unpaid working day. Rack up too many and you find yourself suffering. Instead of hitting me in the paycheck, it hits me in the spirit. Trust me, I'd rather have an empty wallet than an empty soul any day of the week. It wears better, anyway, in the pocket of my pants, the thinner my wallet is. As far as I'm concerned, this is the most important thing in my life. Priority Number One is BE A WRITER. Everything else bends around it, falls under its sway. As it should. This is a high-demand job, and I'll pay all the way down the lonely road if I have to.
I try to balance other things in my life. I have hobbies--I adore reading (I know, only a half hobby, but still), I sometimes sit down and game, I love movies. I even go out from time to time. But these are things that have to be worked into a 40-hour work week and typically a 20-hour writing week. I sleep, too, in there, though you'd never know it.

Guess what that means? I'm busy. I know, I know, I chose this life for myself, knowing full well in advance what it meant to be a writer, and did it anyway. And that's why I rarely bitch about how long I spend writing and how little time I have for other things. I might complain about the process or the result, but I almost never complain about the fact. Writing is me, to deny it would be the worst kind of self-destruction.

And while I try to work in everything else, it doesn't always work. It can't always work. I try to prioritize and whatnot, but sometimes things just get dropped. Between writing and wage-slaving and sleeping, there are cracks where things get dropped.

I'm not bitter about that, so long as the people who are in my life understand that this is how things are.

I am who I am, and it's not going to change. In fact, I imagine it'll get a hell of a lot worse before it gets better. Before too long I'll be juggling finding an agent and continuing to work. My book-reading habits have risen to near-hurculean proportions.

All I ask of the people who are in my life is that they understand this. I am a writer. It's serious. As in, don't you dare fuck around with it. Because when push comes to shove, the writing > anyone else in my life.

This, painful as it is to admit, is as it should be.

Look, I'm not trying to be heartless, but I take my work seriously. And if you respect me as a working writer, you'll appreciate that I do. I make sacrifices for it, more than anyone who isn't in the position would appreciate. I'm not asking you to understand every aspect of it.

But I do ask you to respect me and my decisions to it.

Which means, when I mention my time crush, or when I talk about having to make decisions between options, or when I talk about taking some much needed time off to recoup and relax and recharge a little, the *last* thing I need is someone saying "Gee, you don't really do much now."

To all of those people: Fuck off and die.

I'm not joking anymore. Yeah, I'm a loner. Yeah, I'm introverted. Yeah, I don't have nearly as much of a social life as I want. But I'm living the dream, and paying the price, and if you're going to be a part of my life and interact with me on any meaningful level, you're going to have to understand that.

I'm not going to bend for you. Like I said, the writing comes first. Sorry, it's cruel, but this is a cruel world and we writers are selfish, cruel people. Gotta be. A writer doesn't get a company to back him up. There are no benefits, no guidelines, and nobody in the world is willing to give us the time if we don't take it for ourselves. The world doesn't make writers, people have to become them.

But I've had one too many times where people seem to disregard my efforts as if it was just so much jetsam to be left on the wayside. I'm not going to play that game anymore. I'm done with it. I'm not asking for concessions, I'm not asking for understanding, but if you don't get it keep your mouth shut.

The next person who belittles my efforts is getting a one way ticket out of my life. Post-haste, effective immediately, no refunds or exchanges or transfers on this flight.


J Morgetron said...

You feckin' rock Lit Rock.

You are seriously one of my heroes.

I am going to write during my LOA and I'm using you as my sherpa -- LIKE IT OR NOT.

So make some time for me ... it's not like you do anything anyway ...

That was a joke.

(Don't hit me ... )

If anyone understands that what you do is better than what many people do for big bucks and no soul ... c'est moi.

Love you dude. You are righteous.

Righteous. I commend you.

You're earning that name. It'll pay off.

Sarah Hurst said...

*holds up fist in solidarity*

Literary Rock Star said...

Morgey: I can sherpa all day long, and even at night sometimes too because I'm awesome like that and awesome doesn't have a schedule.

I'm excited for your LoA. Though I doubt as much as you are. Just remember, the more time you have, the less you tend to do.

Human nature's a bitch like that.