Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Still working that day job

Still working that day job. I'm going to make an effort not to get into that. After all, it's just the day job. The hard part, really, (and I blame society for this one) is that it remains difficult for me to remember and act as if (and expect others to follow suit) my day job is my second job. My first job, my passion, my career is my writing. No matter how little that is paying at any given time. And that is what this is meant to be about. Nominally. I guess. (What number blog reboot is this one now? 6?)

I don't have an office. I don't have a separate space in the apartment to work, to write, to think. My computer is attached to the same TV I watch Fraggle Rock on with my son. It's not ideal. Makes it easy to make excuses. Makes it easy to procrastinate. Sure I could start writing now. Or the wife and I could watch some more clever television. There's always something on Hulu or Netflix. (and somehow I still haven't gotten around to see all those Criterions on the queue.)
The out of the blue phone calls from the day job aren't much help either. Kinda have to take those. Life always intrudes. Sometimes you mind, sometimes you don't. Sometimes I don't realize that I have spent all my time set aside from writing and writing related research and now am faced with the decision of no writing or no sleep. With a kid set to wake up around 6am, the choice inevitably becomes no writing. I can get by skipping the writing.

And that's the problem, isn't it. The problem that keeps resurfacing, that makes the claim that this is not my job, not my career, not my life, that writing is a hobby. Writing doesn't pay the bills. I can skip a day and nothing will happen. Sure nothing gets done. But right now (with the novel anyway) I have no deadlines, no editors breathing down my neck. If I don't write, the only consequence is that I don't get anything written. Which is a big problem, but I can still pay the bills, still buy food, still have the energy to play with a rambunctious one year old. So there's that.

This is what it all comes down to, what this is all about: taking the writing seriously. Sure there are no "actual" consequences from skipping a day. But it's thinking like that that will keep me from finishing any of the projects I have in the works (and is why I have such a poor track record of finishing so many of the projects that I have started). Time to invent consequences. Otherwise it's not meant to be. If I can get by without writing, I guess I'm not a writer. So it goes.

There is also the professional aspect of it all. I have long said that I have an aversion to artists who do not "keep up appearances" who do not consider how they look and present themselves to be a reflection of their art. I make exceptions for older artists who came of age in a less visually overstimulated culture with its ever present cameras and camera phones. But for the rest of "us", frankly, I feel you have to look the part. To clarify, I don't think that means that everyone has to look like some cliched version of the "writer" or the "painter" or "performance artist". That is needlessly reductive. It is just that I feel that an artist's work (regardless of their medium) extends to their person, and thus their person and personal appearance must be considered with equal weight as anything else they would exhibit in public. Perhaps that seems superficial, but I feel that it coincides rather well with what has become the new standard of cutting edge marketing: the personal brand. Now this can be applied well and poorly, genuinely and shamelessly. Sometimes the audience can tell the difference, sometimes we can't. I went to B&N yesterday before work and picked up Trust Agents to help me out on this front.

Because, while I feel suitably confident in my work and presenting myself in public, I feel less confident in my web presence. I've been erratic in my blog posts. I offen dabble in incomprehensible nonsense (proudly). And I do not, effectively, protect my personal brand online. It's something to work on. I also picked up VanderMeer's Booklife. Together, they should help me get a handle on the business of being myself (as a business) and selling myself in an effort to sell my writing.

I finally went across the street on Monday and got a library card. It was a big deal for me. Settling in. Getting used to if not getting comfortable. You can't get anything done if you are always waiting for it to get better first. Baby steps.

"They’re spoonfeeding Casanova
To get him to feel more assured
Then they’ll kill him with self-confidence
After poisoning him with words"
- Dylan, "Desolation Row"

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