Wednesday, September 06, 2006

See, This Is What I'm Talking About

Sometimes I feel guilty about being a writer. Like, what I do is not supposed to be a job, and why do I (and other artists) feel entitled to be able to just do this thing and not have to also do other stuff? (Don't hate on me yet, people; I'm going somewhere with this.)

This article was just in the paper. It's about a highly educated novelist born of highly educated immigrants. He's writing novels that get great reviews, AND he is going to med school. This seems to be what practical people do: "I want to write, but I'm not going to ask for a GRANT for chrissakes. I'll write at 5:30 in the morning for two hours before I start work." This is the Stephen King thing I was ranting about a few months ago, this weird Protestant work ethic thing where I am wracked with guilt if I only write the things that make me feel happy and complete and good and like I'm actually expressing myself through the written word.

On days when I work on paying projects, I feel like, "Okay, good, I'm worth something today." On days when I work on possible-future-projects, or spec fiction, or anything that qualifies as art, I just HATE myself, even if what I wrote is really really good.

This is terrible!

On the other hand, I'm so awe-inspired at people who can do BOTH.

But I mean -- I don't know if I can do both! Unless I take a month at a time to ONLY do one or the other -- make a shitload of money and then coast (moneywise) for a solid month where I only do fiction. I have done that before, now that I think about it. It'd be better if I could divide my days up, but maybe I have to divide my years up instead, and just accept that that's how I work best. And then -- who's to say if I still have my fiction mojo? Maybe I'm killing myself working as hard as I do on the (relatively) lucrative journalism because I fear defeat. ouch, I don't like to think about THAT.

I have no answers, I just was struck by the article and consumed with envy.

11 comments:

twobuyfour said...

I think anyone with some artistic talent but an otherwise "normal" life has to struggle with exactly what you describe. The need to get a "real job" is driven in to us at an early age, and reinforced often. It is possible to balance your creative writing with your "real job", be it writing or anything else. I think you simply have to build up enough of a portfolio of creative projects that they become profitable. Then your real job can be the creative stuff which you like so much.

Stevie Ramone said...

doo doodoodoo doo doo doo doo... can i touch that???

Stevie Ramone said...

I cant belive yer profile does not say that you love the Gratefull Dead or the movie Airplane. This vagrant was under the impression that you were quite fond of both!!

Madfoot said...

Wait a minute. Holy SHIT!

Stevie Ramone said...

Whats up Buttercup

Madfoot said...

in my profile. click on my giant nose.

Stevie Ramone said...

it snot there!! LOL

Jenny Rough said...

I know this feeling too well! I even feel guilty when I meet other writers who are moms -- again, it's like they have two jobs. And they'd probably argue motherhood is harder than med school.

BTW, I just bought that book Beasts of No Nation.

Madfoot said...

Oh my GOSH I don't know how moms do it. That's the ultimate example. When I was a kid, I *hated* when my mom wrote. Awful but true!

But I was a dreadful child...

Uncle Paul said...

There's always somebody who is smarter, swifter, more coordinated, a better athlete, more beautiful and more of every we wish we were. You can't dwell on that. It's more useful to dwell on whether you prefer dark meat or white meat on Thanksgiving, and where you will have it served to you.

Madfoot said...

Oopers. Somebody needs an RSVP!