Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thank You So Much from Dolly Parton and Me!

Hey Y'all,
In a minute I'm going to resume posting about excellent things to do in Austin. But first, I want to thank all of you who sent kind words and cash donations yesterday. And I suppose I owe some gratitude to the woman who sent me that chastising email, too, as she unintentionally prompted much of this most positive response.

Without going too far into it, I want to just touch on something that reached a place of real clarity for me yesterday, thanks in no small part to y'all's support. I have spent the past month or so working a lot less than usual-- a result of fewer opportunities and just about no energy left to seek out marketing writing jobs. All along I have continued performing weddings, and I started playing at writing a young adult novel, and I tended the garden and walked the dogs and worked on my knitting. So I didn't curl up in a fetal position and indulge in a massive pity party, I kept pretty busy.

Funny thing though-- despite my diminished tolerance for crap-writing gigs, it was actually challenging to not rush to the computer every day and start sending out piles of pitches. Old habits are hard to break and being a tenacious pitcher is what helped keep me in business so many years. But the instinct that led me to step away from seeking paid writing gigs for several weeks proved to be a good one. It was a chance to truly reflect on how much the Internet-- with all of its aggregation content and content written for free by amateurs-- has completely changed The Writing Life.

I needed the past few weeks to really, truly come to grips with the fact that it is time to let go-- not of the writing, but of trying to make a financial go of it with the writing. The tip jar was final proof of this. Though you all generously filled it, I don't think that it's a sustainable ongoing model. I can't imagine passing the jar around weekly. And so, as noted, I am looking at this as seed money to really push to get the wedding business going in high gear. Haha, Spike Gillespie, Full Time Minister-- who'd ever have thunk it?

One more word about the letting go-- interestingly, I've felt more unmoored than depressed about the situation. I think there must be some low-level grief going on as my thirty-year marriage to commercial writing comes to an end. I do find myself floating a bit. And yet any sadness is more than amply tempered when I think of the Dolly Parton quote of which I am so fond: "I had to get rich before I could sing like I was poor again." I think this quote specifically refers to her most gorgeous, stripped down Sugar Hill records, which came after her big glitzy hit records, and if you haven't heard them you should check them out. My situation does not precisely fit that quote, unless we consider the richness to be symbolic, in which case my life is nothing short of an embarrassment of riches.

And so, in letting go of the commercial side of things-- (without ever totally putting down the notion that one day perhaps I will write a bestselling book-- an enjoyable fantasy on par with the one-day-I-will-start-and-stick-with-a-daily-yoga-practice-eat-right-lose-weight-get-enlightened-and-regularly-rescue-kittens-from-trees fantasy)-- I am fully freeing myself up to write only what I want, when I want. So there you go-- does this post make me look like Dolly Parton?


Dr Shitbag said...

I think tales of your demise as a commercial writer may be a tad early and exaggerated. In fact, I'd put money on it.

Spike Gillespie said...

Dear Dr. Shitbag,
How much money?