On Thursday, I felt bad all day. I might have a sinus infection or a cold coming on. I spent most of my day trying to download and convert my audio-books to .mp3 format. Rather than committing to writing fiction, I committed to a functional task that I could do with minimal thought. I figured it out with some help from the internet, but I failed to do a lot of things around the house.
For those that don’t know, I’m not a man of leisure, nor am I retired, though I’d be hard pressed to prove otherwise. I was laid off in December of 2014 after 7 years with the same company and a decade in the same industry. In the spring of 2015, as my unemployment ran out and as a result of no one offering me interviews, I decided I would try my hand at Real Estate. I spent the last of my severance-package on Real Estate School, got my Real Estate license and joined a Brokerage in July 2015.
It’s July 2017 and I’ve sold one home and leased one home. Why such a small amount of progress? Over a year ago, after 9 months as a Real Estate Agent, having sold only one home and leased only one home, I had to stop the bleeding and take a part-time job. Fortunately, my wife had worked for someone several years early who owned two businesses and was about to open a new one. She gave me a job.
After about 9 months it turned into a full-time job but still eight dollars an hour wasn’t cutting it. Yes, it’s a lot compared to nothing, but it was less than a quarter of what I had been making. No, I’m not a wealthy man and I’ve been lucky in my life to make $17 an hour. It’s not much compared to some, but my wife earns the same amount so it’s better than many, though not better than most.
I’m a middle-aged Will-Be-Author with a limited education and not much in the way of job prospects. That has an impact on my writing. I have 8 or so hours per day to write and yet I don’t. I’ve laid this lack of writing off as laziness and other negative traits the way my family would have. I’ve told myself that it’s because I don’t really want to write, I just want to have the lifestyle of a writer with or without success. But then yesterday happened and I realized that it’s none of the above.
It’s depression coupled with and perhaps even build upon fear. It’s also inclusive of something else that I hadn’t, until yesterday, considered. Maybe it’s my self-esteem? My lack of a job?
Writing is emotionally and mentally challenging for me, from time to time, but for the most part, when I get going it’s easy. That doesn’t mean it’s good, only that it’s not hard for me to do, once I get going. Getting going is the hardest part.
Right now and over the past two years, it’s like I’ve been the protagonist in my own story, flailing around in my own act one or act two without even realizing it. Not until the past few weeks. Not coincidentally, it does seem to correspond to when I started journaling about writing and my attempt at weight loss.
I’m feeling sorry for myself. Where is that in my story, my plot? I’ve struggled to find a job. It’s not my education. It’s my age, the industry I’ve made a living in for a decade and my attitude. Those companies are very sparse around here and the competition is fierce. Younger people will work for less and they have less responsibility in the world. I have a mortgage, a house with a yard, four dogs, a wife, my mother, my mother-in-law and my elderly aunt in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s whom all I have to care for and assist from time to time. Younger people seldom have that much to deal with, so they don’t require or demand as money or time off and benefits that middle agers do.
This past week, for the fourth time in four years, the company my wife works for has asked me if I’d be willing and interested in working for them. Four times I’ve said yes. It seems for the fourth time, now get this, they’re recruiting me and yet once they have my resume and then it gets kicked upstairs past the managers who want to hire me and above HR who are OK with me, someone different every time has a problem with my wife and I working in the same department.
Sure, lots of companies have policies against relatives working together to prevent issues, however, this company has no such policy. In fact, the CEO has his relatives, nieces and nephews and a sister working for the company, in the same department. The CEO is Argintenan, they’re old-world and believe in family businesses, however, the other executives there are Americans and have been raised and trained to be wary of family members working in the same offices, much less the same departments. The past three times someone higher up, but below the CEO objected, now I”m waiting to see if the same thing happens again.
So am I paranoid and wrong to feel hopeless?
Like a character I might write, I’m near the end of my rope. I’m 51 and I only know how to do a few things well. Nothing anyone would want to pay me to do. The things I like or love to do, I don’t do well enough to earn a living at. Like writing.
The things in life I’ve wanted to do in no special order are; actor, singing, astronaut, architect, author, farmer or restaurateur.
I’ve tried acting, well I took a film acting class in Dallas for a year or two and I was growing, getting better and if money and distance hadn’t gotten in the way, I’d still be doing that and who knows if I’d have gotten any gigs, but I’d be rewarded each week for my efforts by the class. It was the only time in my life I ever felt completely accepted, even by people I wasn’t ready to accept yet because I was still learning to be like them.
I’ve been a singer in two bands since I turned 39 when I decided to give singing and acting a go rather than living with the regret of not trying.
A few years ago I got sick and my vocal chords were damaged. It’s been three years now and I haven’t returned to singing because I’m afraid to fail and I’m embarrassed to be broke. It takes money to be in a band these days, at least it does for cover bands around here.
It’s a little late to become an astronaut, I think unless I get very wealthy and pay my way. I might be able to become an architect, but I was never good at drawing, I can see what I want to draw it, but I can’t put what I see on a two-dimensional plane. Using so-called 3-D graphics is a problem for me too, I’m not able to see it. I’ve thought, if I could work in VR I couldn’t do it. I want to try creating in VR, even if not as an architect. I can’t afford to go to school anyway.
Farmer-Farming? Yup, I’d like to own a large spread of land, raising chickens, turkeys, goats, rabbits, cattle for both beef and dairy, and raise multiple crops. I’d want a mix of veggies that I like to eat and then sell the rest. I’d focus on raising foods that go with the cuisines I love; Mexican, Italian, Asian and some American foods. I’d also want to raise barley and maybe rye to use to make alcohol.
Restaurant? Yes. I’ve managed two pizza joints when I was just starting out as an adult. I was very good at it. However, the owner didn’t want to pay well and a shark came along and snookered me into believing I’d be a good salesman, selling insurance. He told me that I’d make five times more than I was making managing for someone else. I fell for it and maybe he believed it, but I’m not the kind of person who can walk up to a stranger and start a conversation for my benefit. If you walk into my space, well then it’s a totally different story. In my restaurant, you’re my guest, so I’ll approach you and that’s why he thought I’d be a good salesman. What that Insurance Company Manager didn’t know is that I have a belief system that includes not intruding on others and leaving them alone.
I want to be left alone when I’m not out doing my thing. So empathy got in the way and still does today, even though I’ve fronted two bands. Once I’m on stage I own the room. That’s my job, to own the room and make everyone feel good and happy about being there. I took me more than two years to decide to put up this website, do a podcast and journal making myself public because I don’t want to impose myself on you. However, I realized that this is MY SITE. You have chosen to be here. That rule of mine, that emotional tic, isn’t in play here.
Writer? You tell me. Fiction is what I love, yet I do a lot more non-fiction writing. I write about myself and my processes here, and I spew my political opinion on my other site and on Twitter. I find the motivations to unload emotional gratifying and even cathartic and I’m here now rather than working on my newest story. Is this a telling bit of insight? Is it that I’ve rationalized the need to express myself in several ways? Have I given myself permission to not write fiction as long as I’m writing at all?
I love the spoken and written word. I love to create and I love to share what I’ve created. Fiction is harder than the rest. This is easy, other than the self-control it takes not to expose too much of me in words.
If I could do only one thing for a living and I was guaranteed I’d get to do it, I’d act, but then I’d get to feeling that I’m not getting the parts I want to play and I’d inevitably end up demanding to write the screenplay.
If I were to chose singing, I’d end up disillusioned with the lyrics I was having to sing and I’d demand to write all the songs.
If I become restaurant owner(I’d like that a lot), that would lead to me demanding to create and write new recipes and a new menu.
Writing is who I am. Creating something from nothing is who I am.
I want to write for a living and for fun, but right now, it’s difficult to do it, because I’m always stressed about money and I don’t know how to turn that stress into fiction or this into cash-flow.
I can see how the energies in my stress could make for great dramatic tension and scenes, but I’m afraid to let myself delve into the darkness within. I’ve never allowed myself to do that, I think that’s why I’ve not ever suffered from clinical depression. It’s not in my nature to stay low for a long time. ADHD is a pressure valve. I can’t stay focused on positive or negative thoughts for long. I bounce back and forth, though I try to stay positive versus making no attempt to stay or fight negativity. I treat negativity in myself as benign. I try to ignore it so as not to encourage it. It’s like accepting that there is a being or creature that feeds on my negativity and that if I think about it and stay there either the creature will escape or I’ll become that being.
I’d rather not find out what true darkness lies within me. I know it’s there, but don’t quote me on that.