Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Upshot and Workshop
So my rant about why it sucks to be a writer has had quite a bit of interesting fallout. Again, thanks to everyone for your comments and stories and commiseration.
Since I posted that, I allowed my mind to drift along the black and white spectrum it prefers much of the time, and imagined starting a new blog called I-Used-To-Be-A-Writer dotcom, wherein I would recall all those glorious days of getting paid to write. That got me thinking about the writing assignments I've had, and especially how I used to bust booty to get published in women's mags which, looking back, seems so... well, it was exciting at the time but hasn't exactly left me with stand-the-test-of-time archives to reflect back on. Then, I dipped my toes in the lagoon of gloom, wondering if it had all been a total waste, this writing stuff, and what was the point of it anyway.
Next, I tried to imagine stopping. Just Not Writing anymore. Seeing if I could walk away from my keyboard. Because, besides the dearth of paying gigs, I'm also suffering physical side effects of typing for a living. I'm in physical therapy for bursitis which is likely a result of being hunched over the keys. And for god only knows how many years I convinced myself that all good ideas were contained in the filter of a cigarette and could only be gotten at via inhaling from that filter. So there's the condition of my lungs (and I have no idea what that condition is and I don't want to find out).
I tried to imagine what else I could do at this stage in the game. Could I nanny again? I like babies a lot. But could I deal with their parents? I doubt it. Could I dog sit? That's an option.
While I was mulling all this, I got a few calls/emails/offers. A number of you asked about private writing coaching, which I do, but currently my client roster for that is full and I won't likely have openings til at least October. Still, I was beside myself with gratitude for the requests. I did get a ghost writing gig which is promising to be pretty exciting. And an old editor friend reached out with a regular quarterly assignment which, while it won't pay the mortgage, certainly will help. Plus I love love love the topic-- food-- so it's actually work I'm excited about.
Maybe most interesting of all-- and I am not going into this in detail right now, just mentioning it-- is that a top dog at the Austin Post has reached out and requested a meeting. I said yes. Depending on how that meeting goes, perhaps I'll post a report afterwards.
Couple of other related/semi-related points. While I'm totally down with writing/reading cranky/sad/bitchy commentary some of the time, I feel like lately-- with Satch's death, Henry's graduation, the whole Austin Post thing, a recent bout of Depression, and my latest attempt to quit smoking (which actually seems to be working this time)-- nearly all of my writing has been about as cheerful as... uh, writer's block... what's something uncheerful? So I decided to take a couple of weeks off from the Austinist. I'm running away to the coast with the dogs to focus solely on the quilting book and try to finally, finally get a grip on that. Also, I decided to throw another writing workshop. The dates are Sept 4 - 6. I'll put up an official post with more details in a day or two. If you want to sign up early, drop me a note at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Re: throwing a writing workshop in the face of going on and on about why it sucks to be a writer right now-- so why hold a workshop, right? Okay, I have an answer for that. Yes, the publishing world is upside down right now. The odds of making a living with writing are diminishing exponentially. But still, I look back at the writing I did do, the stuff I am proud of-- my books for example-- and I have to say that the healing provided by putting those stories down on the page has been a very real thing. So no, I don't feel like a hypocrite offering a workshop. Nor will I promise to reveal secrets to getting rich quick through writing. Just a group of people, in a room, working to find their voice on the page and hopefully, in the end, feeling better for the effort.
Posted by Spike Gillespie at 7:26 AM