I've been slow, chiefly because of a growing concern that I really ought to give up writing. Unlike most bloggers, I have written for most or all of my living for close on forty years. Recently, the day-job part of my writing was beginning to be a problem.
When one writes for money, it's often like the old story about the man whacking his head against a brick wall: it feels so good when you stop. Trouble was, with responsibility for three monthly print pubs and one weekly e-zine, it never stopped. Lately, I had begun to notice that the brief satisfaction that comes when things look as they should had begun to disappear. This takes a good deal of the fun out of the business, because 90 percent of us don't do it for the money.
Alert readers will notice the past and past perfect cropping up in that last graph. That is due to the fact that being laid off last Thursday has spared me any further moral anguish over this. It has also revealed that I was simply sharing the reaction of most of my peers to having too much to do, too little time to do it, and no chance of ever finding the trifle of satisfaction that keeps a writer going.
The choices are now:
- Write, or not write. Writing in this particular space isn't going to happen, save for freelancing. I can count the competition to my late employer on my fingers; I can count the northeastern competition on my thumbs. That doesn't rule out re-ratting, as it were, and going back to tech writing.
- Go into health care for real. I have actual credentials now...along with a sharp appreciation that health care isn't recession-proof. I lingered over one job today for which I could very nearly qualify. I've also spent the last three months writing about, or hearing about, patients literally dying in the streets rather than obtain unaffordable care, which in turn has begun to starve hospitals past the breaking point. One has to ask if that is a future, either.
- I'm now eligible for Social Security, which would cover rather less than half my most modest needs. On the other hand, I could retire to, say, the Dominican Republic and live like a prince on that.
My late and much-respected writing professor, Donald Murray, used to tell his students that writing was not so much a profession as a disease. As I look over the prospects I have to think that, once again, he had it right.