There is some conventional wisdom out there that mentions things about failing and planning and how the two are supposed to intermingle somehow. The tone of the quote suggests that an exact plan for life or the next little piece of it, needs a plan. But there has always been a part of me that has resisted this wisdom, and it is likely why many consider me unwise. I’d say I’m okay with that, but it is not entirely true. It hurts to be patronized, to have others try to dictate your next move, or impose their plan on you — even if their intentions are good. The privilege to pick the wrong ingredients, make the wrong moves, and execute the wrong plan is one that I cherish, even when it means failure. Because failure does not have to mean a four-way brick wall. There was a way into the failure, and there is a way out. You just have to start somewhere, again, and only you can decide what your next move should be.
Finding the Dream
Writing and reading and stories have been important to me my entire life. At age 6, I declared that I would be a writer one day, and I both read and wrote a lot. Most of my friends have been fictional characters. Life happened, success and failure marbled together. I earned a degree, but still struggled raising two kids on my own, but found plenty to be proud of. I had many balls to juggle, and dropped many of them — including the corporate one and found myself unemployed.
I tried to do what I was supposed to. Send resumes, fill out applications, go on interviews, etc. etc. Job hunting is not a fun dream for me. It is a devastating stress filled process where my chronic low self-esteem goes haywire and I am certain that the person who is interviewing me sees me in much the way the Lilliputians saw Gulliver, with every pore and imperfection exposed and the words that might convince them that I am qualified for anything escape me. At best, I come off as a dope. It rips at everything positive left in me, and somehow I have to keep going back into the ringer again. They want stories of my corporate superhero antics and how I saved the company thousands if not millions. But the thing is, if I ever was a superhero at work, I did not make note of it. I try to mind my own business and do the job assigned as best I can, and offer suggestions if they come to me. Finally, when I got too dizzy on the job hunting roller coaster where there seemed to be no way anyone was ever going to see me as the right fit for anything I decided to say, “screw interviews” and try to make my own success.
Other People’s Words
When I started writing with an intent to make money, I did so by writing other people’s words. There was still compromise, but if I truly took issue with a client’s philosophy, I had the option of not taking a specific job, and another one would come. Much of the time, I wrote for next to nothing. Other times pay was pretty good. I was never rich or even got very far beyond the whole “starving artist” cliché, but I did manage to save a bit. I made a solo train pilgrimage from Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN to Portland, Oregon to their Wordstock Writer’s Festival and to see Powell’s bookstore. Around the same time I got a puppy, and soon after learned that I was going to be a grandmother. I had had a plan, but other things got in the way. It happens. You can always rewrite it.
While there have been some good things in life, I have struggled again too. I blame no one. I stopped finding opportunities to make myself a priority. My therapy dwindled, as did my medications for a thyroid issue, depression, anxiety, and ADHD as well as the health insurance that covered them. I weaned off, worrying about potential side effects, and not being a slave to Big Pharma. Good vitamins and supplements help, but there are days I miss my Adderall.
Getting motivated to write– even when I know I need the money desperately–has become increasingly difficult. I write web page content for chiropractors and eye doctors, and my back goes out and the world turns blurry. The joy of writing gets lost in the shuffle, and I wind up feeling like one of the best parts of me is gone. Other people’s words and other people’s worlds have left me scrambling to remember who I am, and how I have defined myself to myself for the last 40 years.
There is a pretty good chance that the time will come when this blog will fail, at least as far as the rest of the world is concerned. That’s okay, because hopefully it will get me back to finding my own voice and purpose again — even if the journey is a bit messy.