You want to run right now, don't you? Oh, blast it, Harold, she's about to write one of those pity party posts.
But really, I'm not. Run if you must, or hang tight. Sit. Let me get you some peanuts and sweet tea. I'll even make sure it's cat hair free.
As I've trolled the jobs websites like a mouthbreather looking at porn (it's a guess), I realize that part of why I failed at association management was because I lacked passion for it. Oh sure, I didn't get fired or quit, I got laid off due to economic factors in the construction business, but the reality is that I peaked at age 31. Or so. I held a job - not just a job, but a good job - in the largest membership organization this side of the Catholic Church.
And I quit.
The reasons are ridiculous and laborious and embarrassing now, but I thought that job was a career dead end. I couldn't have been more wrong, of course. A dead end at 31? Now there's a chilling idea. Sadly, I did not inherit my father's Get a Job And Stay There Forever Gene for if I had, I might have some security and a retirement plan.
Live and learn, people, live and learn.
But back to the passion. I liked what I did well enough, but I was a cog, nothing more than a tool used to get a job done. After leaving that giant association, I took jobs with professional associations that catered to this niche or that, doing the same thing for different people. It didn't matter if they were the American Society of Plumbers Without Cracks or the Institute of Time Mismanagement - they needed governance help, conference planning and membership dues. These things, while I was not passionate about them, I knew how to deliver. But somewhere along the way, I lost my ability to fake it, I think.
Not so with writing. Every day, I want to write. Even if I don't stick it in front of your face and shout "Read! Read!" I write. I have so much passion for writing I could hump its leg. So why did it take me so long to remember this? How had those years working and raising kids and outrunning the law robbed me of my passion?
It's a like Novocaine, this real life stuff. It numbs you to the point where you're happy to just get through the day without telling someone to kiss your ass, your kids survived your parenting well enough to kiss you goodnight and you can fall into bed with the remote in your hand until you remember that you've got wet towels in the washer and the trash pick up comes tomorrow and did you remember to send the car payment?
So if you've never been encouraged to stop and think what you might really want to do with your precious days here in this life, it's pretty easy to find yourself in a passionless career. Public Service Announcement: If you are ever in a position to guide a young person, be sure to ask them what it is they want to do, what are they good at? What do they care about? Those are some very important questions to explore before one invests time and money on a future. I regret that no one asked me those things and I didn't have the brains to advocate for myself.
I've considered this as I've been working on this manuscript, wondering if I might have succeeded more, done more, reached a higher level of command (and salary) had I been just as passionate about something like Strategic Planning, as I am about writing, creating, entertaining. The way my job search is going, it's kind of like what the guy says in the Tootsie Pop commercial, "The world may never know."
I'm still praying to Philip Roth that I won't have to some day say "....aaaaaand having failed at publishing anything, I ....."
In the meantime, I'm working on my confidence. I'm trying to convince myself that this is a When situation, not an If. To that end, I want to concoct stories about how I wrote this little tale. You know, little vignettes I can tell if I ever get to do a book signing. Back in the Twilight series' first blush, we heard about the music Stephenie Meyer listened to while she wrote her novels. Most of us have heard how J.K. Rowling went to a cafe to do her writing while she was a struggling single mum.
Not that I'm putting myself in that league, but
What kind of discussion will that lead to? The effects of ammonia on one's usage of the passive voice? Besides, that little tidbit, while true, hardly makes me unique. I bet lots of writers have their desks dangerously close to a litterbox.
Or do I tell them that I edited this thing using Hart's wonderful plan, reading it aloud while sitting in a lawn chair in my bedroom? I can tell them how I used my bed to spread all my stuff out so I could lose things in the shuffle over and over again. And, of course, again with the cats who, at some point or other, managed to sit, lie or wipe their butts on some of the pages.
I did not appreciate the butt wiping critique, but I was grateful no one horked up a hairball on my "masterpiece."
So here's your chance to help me out. I've heard Hemingway wrote on the potty. Some have said that Dorothy Parker wrote wearing only her pearls. Rumor has it that Ray Bradbury uses only a Number Two Pencil. I once heard that Danielle Steele won't write unless she's wearing full make up. And did you know that while writing his memoirs, George W. Bush took writing breaks to watch The Housewives of New Orleans and reruns of Gilligan's Island on Hulu?
See how easy that was? Your turn. What kind of stories would you tell about how you work? Or invent some rumors for me, howboutit? You'll have my undying gratitude and I'll even credit you when I'm out with the Hells Angels Book Club and Charitable Society.
And having failed that, at least I'll have something with which to entertain myself while I "rest" on the special floor of the hospital. So thanks. And hey, are you finished with those peanuts?