Writer woes is me for not calling myself a writer for a while. What took me so long? My excuse is life. It seems like my cuckoo aspirations of putting words on paper for money have flown away like a cuckoo bird. After much reflection, I’ve come to some conclusions.
I’m never gonna be a writer. Rather, I won’t be that idealized version in my head for the past, oh, 25 years. These ebbs and flows of inspiration and drudgery are becoming tiresome. Now that I’m married and have a child, I no longer have the energy. To (mis) quote the great law enforcer and statesman Roger Murtaugh,
Because I’m too old for this shit, I no longer have the drive, hunger or guts that guys half my age have to pursue their dream as a journalist/author/etc./etc.
That being said, I believe I can still write. I just can’t make a living out of it.
I may have grown up and grown out of the entrepreneurial artist phase that a fair amount of my friends have found success in that, perhaps, that is not my path to take. Although, I can never really ever rule it out. That’s why I’m here, right now, typing this journal entry that maybe only two or three of my friends will read, but I’m ok with that.
What to do about my writer woes?
So, it’s a hobby of mine, a passion of sorts. I’m hoping that telling myself this will take the pressure off trying to “make it.” Perhaps if I write enough, run into the right people, make connections, continually push this site, write some more, get some readers and feedback, use that feedback to write some more, get some clout to finally have some motivation to create valuable (monetized) content and perpetuate that cycle over and over until I’m a halfway marketable writer.
Or, I just continue writing like nobody’s reading. In the meantime, I gotta find ways to feed and clothe my family.
I’d like to think this is all part of the process, the self-doubt, the laziness, the lack of inspiration. And maybe it is. But right now, it feels as if I’m making a big mistake and should turn my attention toward other means of sustaining myself and my family; ones that are more stable, less unpredictable, and otherwise practical and realistic.
I can already feel the artist’s side in me cringing, squirming, fuming, and raging. “Really?!! And go back to the 9-5 BUUUUUULLSHIT you narrowly escaped with some of your health and a little bit of your sanity intact?!!” is what I can hear echoing in my head as Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” plays on Spotify.
I’ll admit. I really wanted to become a “famous” writer in my younger days. I wanted my words to captivate an audience and catapult them to another world full of wonder and magic. That’s when I wanted to be an author. Then I wanted my words to be thought-provoking and offer different perspectives to topics my audience has yet to consider. That’s when I wanted to be a journalist. I’m just now coming to terms with the fact that those are statements that border, check that, are bombastic, grandiose, and ego-masturbatory (is that an adjective? Fuck it! It is!)
In other words, maybe I’m not as much into this writing thing as I thought. Perhaps this wasn’t the next career I was thinking of embarking on. Maybe I should go back to my lane and become . . . well what?
I tried the aircraft mechanic gig and hated it. I mean, I could change my attitude about it, and it’s the most accessible job I have right now. In fact, I’ll be in a pretty lucrative position as a supervisor, never having to touch a wrench, sitting in an office, handing out jobs to other mechanics, and making sure they’re doing what they’re doing. Attend daily meetings and let the higher-ups know that nothing, NOOOOOTHING has changed since yesterday (until it has, of course, which is when those face-to-face meetings would actually make sense). Deal with office politics (that ALLLL offices deal with) except really, I don’t have to handle it, because you know, Human Resources. It sounds pretty cake.
And I get where he’s coming from. I’d like to think that, because most of my friends are creatives, I too was meant to be a “creative,” thus the whole on-again-off-again relationship I have with being a writer. What I wrote up there feels like the antithesis of being creative. “Meetings? Supervision? Human Resources? Pfft, not me,” says the artist. While my rational side (how many fucking sides do I have?) is starting to wonder how much truth there really is to those outbursts, I’ll have to focus on what I need now. Right now, I need to get back into the workforce so I can supplement the rapidly shrinking pension I’m getting now. I need to stop worrying about whether I have enough money to take care of my wife, prepare for my child, and build us a good home.
NOW, if I can do that AND land myself a writing job, that’d be alright
(Normally, this is where I’d insert some self-deprecating gif to subvert my expectations, but I’m not gonna do that. One, I think I’ve put too many of those in this post anyway, and two, I’m gonna stay optimistic on this one. It probably helps that Method Man’s “Bring the Pain” is motivating me a little)
Well, he’s not entirely gone, but until I can get my shit together, he’ll be on indefinite hiatus. So, this next incarnation of mine, Literary Journeyman, isn’t as bombastic but still has that artsy odor generally associated with coffee shop hipsters who, too, cannot get their shit together.
But yes, this one doesn’t feel as hyped-up for the audience and anxiety-inducing for me, but it still has enough of an identity to be marketable. (which translates to, “I was able to buy the domain name”)
I…you know…this is precisely the same thing I cried about 15 posts ago. Come to think of it, I sorta had the same crisis, er, a post ago. I suppose I’m still in my feeling out phase. Maybe it’s not that I can’t get my shit together. It’s that I need to get my shit together before I get my shit, together right?
Maybe it’s about time I turn to Medium.com, a website filled with articles for writers, freelancers, content creators, and full-stack polymaths who somehow have time to write life-lessons articles in the middle of their podcast/photography/music composition/freelance brothel running activities (probably? I’m jealous, just sayin’)
“At the end of the day, they [my wife and future child] are what drive my decisions. If I can take care of them, and continue to grow as a writer, great! If not, I’ll have to make some tough decisions. It’s not like the terms “side gig” or “passion project” don’t exist right?”
So yeah, am I back to square one? Fuck if I know. Maybe it’s true what Tim Denning said, and I may have to eat shit before I can rise again. How the fuck do I end this post?
On a whim, I decided to feature a cover song of a talented artist, by another talented artist. (or course, talent may vary and is subject to listener’s tastes) I called it “Take Cover July,” and I introduced it on my post two days ago and titled it “Look at the sky, Take Cover, it’s July.” So, did I really do this on a whim? Did I do this for my own amusement or did I have some ulterior motive? Well, I started it on this page but, because I couldn’t get any of the WP auto-post plugins to work, I decided to move it to Instagram instead, where I was more or less, “successful.” And this is where I start to question my intent. Am I doing this whole, “Take Cover July” thing to show that I’m a whimsical fellow, like the male version of the Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl? Or do I expect some sort of return from this? Well actually, I am getting a return from this, in the form of likes and add requests, but is that what I really want?
To try to answer this question, I turned to the boundless wisdom of Google and typed “does social media kill creativity,” and the first post that popped up was New York Times bestselling author, J.T. Ellison’s article on, word for word, the answer I was looking for. After just reading it, (which is literally right before I wrote this sentence) I think I may have found the insight I was looking for. (which is kinda sad because this is the first time I’ve heard of J.T. Ellison, let along her blog) She says social media is cool, if you manage it correctly, along with your time and feeding your “muse.” She recognizes the need to use social media for networking purposes, but if you’re wasting time on social media trying to get add requests, likes and . . .
So, what now then? What do I do? I’d like to say buck up, put that smart-phone away and get to writing, but I’ll need to address some issues I have first.
I’m still in college. Granted, it’s Brandman University, which is mostly an online & brick-and-mortar hybrid school where all homework is due Thursday and Sunday night of that week, meaning I’m able to schedule my time around it so, well…fixed that.
I’m about to have a baby. Most of my attention is devoted to fulfilling any and all of my wife’s pregnant whims, which can come out of the blue, but is still manageable due to the fact that she is the most patient and understanding woman I know. Sorta nipped that one in the bud-ish.
As a retired military member, I’m given a lifetime monthly pension to keep my head above water financially, but it’s not enough to prepare for rainy days and emergencies. Therefore, I need secondary income.
It’s the third issue I need to contend with. Am I comfortable with my financial situation or will I need to get a job? Or, should I continue taking “gigs” from Upwork and Textbroker, and call it good? The funny thing is, I reeeeally haven’t been taking that many gigs. (and by not that many, I’ve only taken one job, which only paid my lunch for the day) Maybe that’s it. Maybe I should just get my feet wet in the business, even if it is a content mill. It’s better than saying you’re a writer and having nothing to show for it.
So, I started with writing about how I wanted to be all cool by introducing “Take Cover July” and ended with wanting to make a move towards just writing for a damn content mill to get some writing experience. This isn’t the first time that these thoughts have crossed my mind, but this is the first time I’ve written about it. Maybe this time, I’ll actually stick to my haphazardly laid plan and finally grow as a writer, which is taking me a hell of a lot longer than I want it to.
Well damn it has, hasn’t it? I guess the last post I made wasn’t so much a post than it was a test to see if I knew how to use a WordPress plugin.
Anyway, as much as I’d like to start tonight, I don’t think it’s happening. I’m still picking up pieces of my brain off the floor after watching the season 2 finale of WestWorld. Instead, I’m doing the cop-out repost of what I think my best post has been so far.
It’s a serious piece I did on Professional Burnout in the military, the lesser known than PTSD but still dangerous consequence of serving not only in the front lines, but in support of the mission.
This is another test of the NextScripts Social Networks Auto Posting System.
If this had been an actual post, it would have been published within the desired parameters of the blogger. Due to his old age and limited knowledge of interwebs magic, he is currently having trouble with WordPress. It seems he is also so dense that he is unable to follow advice in the forums or guidance from YouTube. Therefore, he’s going to use the trial-and-error, shotgun method, also known as “spray and pray.”
Last time, he said something douchey like “you would have gotten a self-important recap of the week’s events, a pompous breakdown of military cultural elements, or an angsty, LiveJournal-esque soliloquy aimed to evoke sympathy but only provoke aggravation.” So far, he hasn’t been delivering on those things so, WTF?!! Stop wasting time by going on what you say to your wife are “1-hour” hikes when they turn out to be “5-HOUR” hikes! Therefore, you come back home every time with beat up feet and your angry better half on maniacal pregnancy hormones screaming your ear off about how you’re, well, beating up your feet.
Anywho . . .
Eventually, he hopes to get a grasp on his hiking addiction, so he can get back to blogging. (although most likely, he’s gonna go back to YouTube and watch more in-depth discussions of Westworld, like the one down below)
Hey!! How about you conduct this test first THEN watch the video for the 1000th time?!
Due to technical difficulties (and by that I mean my old man knowledge of interwebbing) I wasn’t able to send a notification of my last post via Facebook and Linkedin. Normally, I’d just write it off as a “d’oh!” but it’s something I really want to put out there for more eyes to read. It’s an account of what I believe was a “micro-crisis” I had with this whole wanting to be a freelance writer thing. If I were to summarize it in a GIPHY, it’d be something like this:
Ever since I’ve decided to go freelance, I’ve been stricken with fear wondering whether I’m doing the right thing, doing it at the right time, or going at it with the right intentions. The reptilian brain in me is saying no no no no
. . . and about 5 years ago, the highly un-confident, stricken with doubt me would have wholeheartedly agreed, dropped this precarious gamble and stuck to a stable but hum-drum life. Now, I’m only slightly un-confident, burdened with skepticism, and trying to rationalize what could well be a significantly life-changing move on my part. I just recently went through another significantly live changing event which I can sum up with this expression . . .
Cool. What do I do now? Hope I don’t ask the same question in about 3 months or so.
After I retired, or rather, towards the last days of my impending retirement, I intended on trying to get into an internship because I thought that would be a decent way of easing myself into the civilian workforce. However, I went about it in the most buckshot fashion I could think of. I applied to…
They were all jobs that fit with what I thought I wanted to do, to work in Public Radio (NPR, APM and their local affiliates) and network TV. (less on the reality shows and more on the newsroom) . I should have stopped there, but instead I went full death blossom. (for all of you that don’t know what I mean by “death blossom…)
Because I really wanted to embrace my past narrative of “supporting educational institutions who educate and inform our communities,” as an administrative assistant, which basically code for secretary!
NOTE #2: Again, I do not mean to disparage or demean this line of work. Admin is more than filing papers, taking phone calls, making coffee and picking up the boss’ dry cleaning, as is stereotyped in movies and television. Again, it’s not my cup of tea ok?
However, after I had done so much grunt work on the job search front that I discovered a flaw in my approach. But first some context.
I attended what was called the Senior Executive Workforce Transition Workshop, a 3 day course that helped prepare high-ranking, executive level personnel to continue their career outside of the military, or at least that how it was advertised. There, I thought I learned innovate ways of finding, applying, and securing jobs, or at least I seemed like it to someone who hasn’t had to find, apply and interview for a job in 20+ years. I was really entranced by how this workshop touted this “under-utilized” website that guides you step-by-step on how to write great cover letters and resumes. And sure enough, I paid the subscription fee, used it to churn out a “variety” of cover letters and resumes and sent them to all the organizations I just mentioned.
Out of the 20 cover letters and resumes I sent, I got 3 calls for a phone interview. Out of those 3 interviews, I got one offer, from my last preferred employer, the SCIF. Was I really that desperate (yes, desperate) enough to take the job? If I did, I’d be working there now and probably be blogging about how this is too much like my old job, except without the uniform, the breakneck ops tempo and the looooong hours.
Then I saw an eye-opening, Linkedin endorsed video of a recruitment coach by the name of J.T. O’Donnell who had newer and better career searching concepts in Work It Daily. It was there that I found out . . .
My shotgun method of “applying” for jobs sucked
My methods of writing cover letters and resumes sucked
Basically, I thought I was clever by cutting and pasting the website‘s canned statements to write my professional summary, work experience, and additional information. I thought that was what tailoring meant and I could do that for any job. I thought wrong.
So, here I am now blogging about how I screwed up my whole job finding process and didn’t course correct until it was too late.
But was it too late? Technically it isn’t. I can still resume my job hunt using the lessons I learned from Work It Daily. But it was around the time I got the rejection from CAP Radio (for a Marketing internship no less) and the SCIF job offer I turned down that I went into introspection mode, questioning whether I wanted to go back to the 9 to 5 again. My rational brain scoffed and said. “What are you crazy? Yeah! It’s a stable job with a stable paycheck that can greatly supplement your current pension. Why wouldn’t you go back to tried and true?” Then I remembered Ms. O’Donnell’s tips on choosing the right career…
She basically asked, “What type of a role is work going to play in your life story?” Did I want it to play a supporting role, the lead role, or the whole movie? (start the video at 1:03 if you want to know what I’m talking about) I thought about it, and I categorized all my past and possible future roles like this:
Brewery Tour Guide
Then it hit me. The voice in my head that that sang my love for stories and writing never stopped. The volume’s been turned down for quite a while, but it was always in the background whispering…hypnotizing…enticing…
Or maybe that’s just delusion guiding me to ruin. Whatever the case, I was convinced to pursue my calling as a writer. And to complicate things even more, I’ve decided to become a freelancer writer!
Time will tell if this is another phase, (because this isn’t the first time this happened, a story to be told at a later time) but I really don’t want it to be. I’m aware of the uncertainty and risks associated with this calling, or at least I think I am. I suppose all I can do is stay frosty and continue along this path, and rebrand myself as the eponymous Sugar Freelancer!!
P.S. It is not lost on me that freelancing also requires skills in public relations, marketing and sales, all of which involve customer service, as well as organization communication and *sigh* customer relations, all of which involve administrative work.
This is a test of the Post-Military life blog NextScripts Social Networks Auto Posting System.
If this had been an actual post, you would have gotten a self-important recap of the week’s events, a pompous breakdown of military cultural elements, or an angsty, LiveJournal-esque soliloquy aimed to evoke sympathy but only provoke aggravation (like with this test).