The Writing Life: Fantasy vs. Reality
Today, I read the following passage from Emily Magazine and found myself nodding in agreement. How many times have I thought this? How many other writers have thought this, too? At any rate, a wave of melancholy — but also relief — swept over me. Even well-published writers get the blues:
Needless to say — you aren’t reading this in Elle, are you? — I was not lifted up easefully into the realm of the brand-name. Probably because I didn’t do any of the things that I would have had to do in order to get there. I still don’t quite understand what it takes to get there. More and more I think it’s not what I’m good at, or even what I want to be good at. I still feel jealous of people who get paid well to go on junkets and describe them humorously and vividly, of course. But I want something else, and it does not, for the moment, involve sitting alone in a room with a computer. It also does, of course. I have been happiest and most miserable alone in that room.
When I went back to working in an office after years of not, I could suddenly see the particular brand of crazy my former compatriots in freelancing exhibited, revealed in high definition. Their obsessive Facebook status updates, their public declarations about how much or how little they’d written that day or how their writing was going, the kind of super-involved tweeting that you only see in people who are either trapped at desk jobs where there’s too little for them to do or in freelancers desperate to avoid the work they’ve assigned themselves. I have done all of this stuff, of course, but the moment I didn’t have time to do it anymore, I could see it for what it was. It was, initially, a blessed relief to be rendered unable to ride the waves of Schadenfreude and fleeting, irrational enthusiasm that wash over the social Internet all day. I was also rendered incapable of feeling jealous of everyone whose writing was momentarily elevated by a stream of “THIS!”-style sharing. I had other stuff to do. I have other stuff to do.