“... Start to take your dreams and wishes seriously. If you’re not sure, if you honestly don’t know what you want to do, start wishing for a direction, for your way to appear… Take out another notebook, pick up another pen, and just write, just write, just write. In the middle of the world, make one positive step. In the center of chaos, make one definitive act. Just write. Say yes, stay alive, be awake. Just write. Just write. Just write.” – Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones
Whatever you say, Natalie.
I picked up this book some years ago at The Book Cellar, which is hands down my favorite bookstore in Chicago.
I only picked it off my bookshelf last week in despair, as freelance work was like
… and the real world jobs weren’t much kinder.
So I still spend my days looking for things that hours later I get rejected for, and tell myself that it wasn’t meant to be. I had hoped, of course, that I’d have something by now. The more rational, slightly lazier side of me says that I’ve barely been here a month, and it’s okay to take a break after working nearly 10 years in a job that I despised.
The overachiever side of me doesn’t want to abide this and is dreading having to work at like, Terrible, Inc. But, you know, benefits! (Also, COBRA? Fucking expensive. So I better find a fucking job.) … even though, getting an interview doesn’t guarantee a job, and I’m TERRIBLE at interviews. Good at jobs. Terrible. At. Interviews.
There’s also the problem that I really, honestly, have no clue what I want to do with my life, since I’ve spent my life thus far flipping from one thing to the other with no real regard to any bigger picture.
Last week, my dad asked Paul and me to talk to his tai chi master to maybe get some answers and some direction. Paul didn’t really want to, and I had already told my dad that we weren’t going. But then my dad was like, “I spent so much money,” and I was like, “OMG WHY DON’T I HAVE A JOB?” so that went pretty much like,
“I have no job, we just moved, looking for direction, kinda think I want to write, not sure, help?”
And TCM said, “Yeah, if you want to, you can.”
… so. you know. helpful. Because, sure, I like writing, but will writing make me money? and bring me adoration? and maybe a “yes” in a world full of “NO”s? HALLELUJAH.
So I started to write this personal essay, which I got about a page into before I started to get sick of my writing because I was actually trying to sound poignant. And… uh. Fuck that. I’ll revise when I can get a better writing voice.
Then I started to get this idea about a short story (even though I don’t think I’ve ever written a short story in my life) about the end of communication, but HOW THE FUCK YOU WRITE A BOOK WHERE NO ONE TALKS? I began to worry about the premise before I even had characters (this is why I write about my life. I have no talent. This is all an elaborate ruse). And I know someone out there is gonna be like, “Well, *like this* (my idea that someone else wrote on all the bestseller lists of 2017).”
Meanwhile, Paul has two interesting prospects for jobs and I’m super proud. This is how I know I’m stupid-in-love with him because I’m not even jealous. I’m a terrible jealousy-monster, even when I’m happy for other people. I love when people succeed, I just also want to succeed, and succeed better. It’s a problem; I don’t know how to get rid of it.
But I’ve decided to carry on. I apply to the office jobs and the writing jobs regularly, dutifully, every day. I’ve also tried to write something every day, at the advice of Ms. Goldberg, even though I don’t want to, my writing’s not good, I’ll never get famous and have people send me chocolate on the regular.
I keep stupid hope alive, with the help of my loved ones, who assure me that this is just a semi-colon in the scheme of life and not the full-stop period that I imagine.
Who knows, maybe I’ll actually get the big break that I need in order to keep my fragile ego alive.
Or maybe I’m creeping ever closer from this:
Have a good night, friends. Be kind to yourselves.