Home > Uncategorized > Writing is a bitch. But it’s fun. And you get to set your own hours. And wear pajamas.

Writing is a bitch. But it’s fun. And you get to set your own hours. And wear pajamas.

Writing for a living is a dastardly business.

snoopySo I’ve heard anyway. Even though I fancy myself a writer of sorts, I’ve never attempted to earn the family bread at it, which is just as well. My father made his living as a writer. He seemed a happy man, mostly because he cared not a whit about money for money’s sake. He made just enough coin to keep us all clothed and fed, with enough left over for a week at the beach every summer…which cost $150 in them days….or about half of what you’d pay to get a hotel room for a single night at the same beach today.

A tough nut in either era for sure, but things seem more obscene now. You could do more with less when I was a kid…and maybe that’s one of the things that makes growing up such a pain in the ass.

After my Dad retired, I actually found out what his salary was. And how many times he re-mortgaged the house to keep the carnival running. And about his assorted 2nd jobs. And all the free-lance work he did so we wouldn’t be humiliated on Christmas mornings when exchanging notes with the neighbors.

So I got a business degree in College, which is the degree you get when you have no idea what you want to do with your life, but you’re pretty sure you don’t want to be brutishly poor. Like a social worker. Or a newspaper man.

Nobody is more boring at parties than people who have a business degree. Their eyes are all glazed and they frequently make no sense whatsoever and have an alarming tendency to bogart everyone’s joints. All they talk about is the novel they’re just about to start writing. It’s depressing. These people should be stomped out with winkle-picker shoes.

At least I never threatened to write a novel. I know better. That would be ghastly business. I can barely sit still long enough to play “I Can’t Explain” on the guitar. My mind wanders in curious ways. Frequently, when driving, I end up heading in the wrong direction and don’t notice until I’m so far from my initial destination that I decide to go someplace else. It once wandered so much that when I showed up for a final exam in college I was asked what I was doing there. It was the first time I’d made it to class, apparently.

I passed the exam with flying colors, which tells you as much about a business degree as you need to know really. It was like 3rd grade, except they didn’t call your parents when you didn’t show up.

Actually, I’ve written just about everything except a novel over the years. Songs. Plays. Essays. Political diatribes. A short story or two. All varieties….some of it printable….and some of it incontrovertible gibberish. But really, it’s the only thing I ever felt like I had an aptitude for.

Some of my writing I’ve even been paid for. Some. But the net result is horrifying….a financial catastrophe of gargantuan proportions. Maybe farming or organizing democrats pays less per hour. Maybe. Which is why I refuse to refer to myself as a writer. Because it’s bad juju. I’d feel like a wretched failure. Lucky me I’ve got a business degree to fall back on, so I spend my days in a mental fog of number crunching and being subjected to the Peter Principle over and over….pure data overload, occasionally staring out the windows….like a convict peeking through bars. And, as I keep being reminded, I should be grateful. I have a “real” job and I’m not wearing a name tag and a goofy hat with my other Business degree pals from the class of 1988. (Or perpetually stoned, like the ones who decided to stick around and get Master’s degrees. These poor wretches should have their own telethon).

What a year that was. 1988. Free from the excuse of “I’m not a grown up yet”. Set loose on coin operated laundries and unsuspecting roommates. Paying for beer with rolled up coins and pretending that I was well qualified to live this way until I turned 65 and retired so I could then get sick and die like a good catholic. It was a hideous year of heartbreak and fear. My first job out of college was with the defense industry, so I was immediately confronted with the evil truth that nothing I’d learned in college was relevant anymore….especially not when you’re 22 and fleecing the government like it’s a morning-after-unpaid-sleeping-hooker with a head full of benzos.

Trapped like rats for 60 hours a week (OT was rampant and turned everyone into greedy savages) we’d only be let out early on Election Day…..told to vote Republican, otherwise we were surely doomed.

Ah youth. I was still smart enough at the time to notice that I was surrounded by old people who seemed resolute only in their sense of defeat. I’d drive home from work every day weeping like a little girl….desperate to reach a bar, where I could be surrounded by more old people who seemed resolute only in their sense of defeat. But at least they’d buy me rounds because they felt bad for me. “Don’t worry son”, I was told. “At least you still have hair.”

So yea…where was I?

Writing is a bitch. But it’s fun. And you get to set your own hours. And wear pajamas. Shelby Foote wore nothing but pajamas for 20 years while writing his monumental Civil War trilogy. Beat that boyos.

The place I worked at out of college? It’s now an empty hulk, with grass growing through the cracked floors. Rumors say it was built on an ancient indian burial ground, and anybody who toiled there will have nothing to look forward to but lay-offs and rehabs and looted social security. Even right wing warmongers at the highest level of government couldn’t save the place.

We have 2 choices in life really. To float or to swim.

Well 3, but failure is not an option for a writer.

We can take the flogging….but will not surrender.

In a bit..


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. jimbob
    June 13, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I plan to start writing a novel about living near the beach 🙂

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