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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Head Space Lately

I’ve taken a lot of flak from people lately for feeling down about myself and where I am in my life. I’m sure that it’s not the intent of those around me to be giving me flak about it, and I appreciate that they care about me and are concerned. Unfortunately, I fear that people just aren’t getting it.  What lies below is (greatly) expanded from an excerpt from an e-mail I sent my dad this morning which I hope helps to clarify where and why I am in the space I’m in lately.

So, recently I had a whopping three job opportunities come up at once after years of not even getting callbacks.  One of these jobs was actually at a library, which was really exciting.  Another was to move into a different position in my department—one which would’ve been exciting and play to the skills for which I’ve been trained.  A third is a “don’t hedge your bets” position in another department. 

Of the three, only the “don’t hedge your bets” job seems to be panning out.  The library interview was, well, just bizarre. The woman talked a great deal about how impressive my resume was, how well-rounded and personable I was, and how she could see me getting promoted very fast through the ranks, but I’m not sure she even knew what she wanted from the position for which I was interviewing, and I got the distinct impression that she was very impressed but wanted someone, well, less impressive. I left confused, but feeling a bit better about my chances for a library job in general after talking with her.

I’m going to focus on the job here.  They hired someone else for the job behind my back and I'm told that the supervisor for that job is furious about it as he wanted me in the position. I'm really pissed about it because when another, similar job came up about a year ago, a co-worker who wanted that one had it just handed it to him, whereas they made me go through a dog and pony show for this job when my boss never even really seriously considered me for it.  He was pretty blunt about it when we talked Friday, that it was because he likes having me where I am. I'm "too valuable" in my current position. He is very lucky that my fear of ending up homeless and penniless outweighs my anger. I very nearly walked out of his office and straight to my car when he told me they'd hired a work-study student who just finished school for a job that I shouldn't even have had to compete for in the first place. I did tell him point-blank when he asked me what he could do to make me happier where I am that I'm sick of being someone's assistant, making banal phone calls to confirm whether the subway in Boston goes past a given hotel, scheduling meetings and sitting on a reception desk when I'm 38 years old with a Master's Degree...but he showed little desire to actually fix any of those issues (all of which would be easy fixes for him to make, but I won't bore you with the details of that mess).

I was really beyond upset --I felt like I was never going to get past the "swing and a miss" thing that keeps happening to me over and over and over and over again. On Saturday we went to a party with a group of friends and family at a rather expensive restaurant downtown. I had an appetizer and a bowl of soup. Now, I didn't only eat small because I was broke--I had very little appetite because I was still upset, though it did serve to remind me that I feel like I'm the only one in our entire group still living hand-to-mouth. It is, quite frankly, embarrassing to me.

It seems like I always get right to the cusp of something good happening, and it then just falls apart at the last minute or never quite makes it to where I'd hope it should. I got to publish a novel. I’m still not convinced it was because the novel was great; I got it in the door at least partially because of being friends with someone in the company, and it hasn’t exactly sold gangbusters—few people despite my best efforts even know it exists and it’ll likely never see store shelves. And let’s face it—my own family and some close friends have told me, “this is not your best work.”

I have a second book ready to go that I’m very proud of—no traditional publishers will even give it a look.  I could self-publish it and I even had someone volunteer really excellent cover art for it…but I’m about $250 short of actually being able to buy the ISBN numbers to do so. And yes, I’m SO broke right now that $250 may as well be $25,000. I’m also fairly certain there will be other costs that will arise which I haven’t thought of yet.

So, how about my game writing, which a close friend pointed out to me I’ve still got. Here’s how that’s panning out. I’ve done sourcebooks for a company that have consistently sold out and gotten rave reviews, but when the opportunity to do a core game comes up…it’s handed to another writer who sat on it for several years and still hasn’t turned in a finished manuscript. Also, my latest sourcebook has been done for a whopping seven years without seeing the light of day.  Why I’m not good enough to handle a core game for them when my sourcebooks are that popular is beyond me.  Please note I'm not blaming any publishers here, just wondering what it is that I am not doing right. I have a core game coming out (hopefully) very soon for another company, so we’ll see how that does. I self-published my own game which made waves when it first came out, but then of course my life went crazy with grad school and I had to turn my attention elsewhere, and by the time I got back to it, well, the market was flooded with similar games and nobody was interested in mine anymore.  I have several other games in varying stages of completion but they’ll probably never see the light of day…because I can’t afford to give them a decent art budget (or again, buy ISBN numbers).  

This pattern that keeps happening has been making me feel like an utter failure lately, like I'm the only one that doesn't get to have any real success no matter how hard I try or no matter how hard I bust my ass to make something happen--I'm only good enough to get a teaser of it that never quite gets there and I don't know why I don't deserve to have some real success in my life. Certain people around me seem to think I still just glide through life and don’t put any effort into anything because I was stupid when I was younger, and the truth is I've busted my ass over the past several years to try and make good on SOMETHING, but it just doesn't happen. I get little victories, but the gold ring remains forever out of my reach--hell, I'd even be happy with a silver ring.

I haven’t been writing lately.  A lot of people seem to think that writing is easy for you if you’re a writer: you have an idea, you put it on paper.  It doesn’t work that way. When I write I am utterly exhausted by the time I’m done—both physically and mentally.  It takes a great deal out of you to pour yourself out on paper that way. I love it more than anything in the world, but here’s the rub: if I’m already always physically and mentally exhausted, where is there to go?  People also don’t seem to take it seriously, my writing. They treat it as something I do whenever I have a few minutes and they’re happy and proud of me when I publish something, but I really feel like the minute I refer to or treat it as a job that I want to pursue, something that requires me to actually make a commitment, people (some people, anyway) look at it with disdain, as though there are more important things I should be doing. No writer ever made it by treating writing as something you do when you have a few minutes of spare time, and I wish people would understand that when I say I’m not available to do something, be it hang out or help them with a project, because I’m writing, they need to treat that exactly the same as if I said “I have to work,” and not get pissed at me and act like I’m blowing them off because I don’t want to be there.

People keep telling me I have to stop measuring my value based on my day job, and it’s a sentiment I understand and appreciate.  That being said, I also keep noticing that the people telling me that are measurably more successful in their careers than I am, and they're doing worthwhile jobs. So none of them really get what this is like.  Also, I’m not generally a guy who says, “I just want to be left alone,” so seriously, when I do say it, I mean it. People who do that all the time aren’t doing themselves any good. Those of us who recognize that often spending time with others is good for the soul, but still say “I want to be alone?” Those are the people you can take at their word. Sometimes you need to just let your head space clear up. I appreciate the concern of those around me, but I’m here to tell you that if you’re worried about me doing something stupid when you leave me alone…don’t. That is never going to happen. Ever. There is nothing in the world that could actually drive me to those kinds of thoughts or actions.  I mean that. Absolutely nothing.

Large chunks of my life suck right now, but trust me: I’ll survive.

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Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom, and Mary Magdalene.

I'm not a mad bible thumper--Sophia, however, is my inspiration and always in my heart