It’s difficult not to be envious of those more successful than you. People you like, respect and appreciate do things that earn them a great deal of traffic, if not a full-blown career, and you wonder, “Well, why can’t I do that?” After all, I have opinions about games and movies; I love to write and, by some accounts, am pretty damn good at it; I even occasionally say funny things and can doodle a little.
So why am I not doing these things more often? Why don’t I try taking IT CAME FROM NETFLIX! to a different format? Why am I not chasing down every dragon that bangs down the door of my imagination, be it breathing fire or sporting a beard or wearing a very fine hat?
Simply put: You can’t chase every dragon.
The one that’s been taunting me since I was a teenager is becoming a novelist. It’s taunted others and they’ve found their roads to bringing the beast down. Good. I’m glad to see talented people succeed. I could try following the same road they followed, but in the end, how much originality would there be in that approach? And wouldn’t that road be just another dayjob, no different save in the name and the mean details?
I continue to be an amateur, aspiring novelist, while undertaking a daily job to try and keep the bills paid. As the sole source of income for my household, my responsibility to the others in that household come first. I can’t short-change a bill to supplement my coffee habit, I can’t leave the cupboards bare to pre-order a new game, and I sure as hell can’t take a flying leap out of a semi-stable position to go chasing another dragon when I’m already hot on the tail of the biggest one of my life.
I look at my peers with a mix of appreciation and envy: appreciation that they’ve not only chased but brought down some of their dragons, and envy that I don’t have quite as much time to do the same. But we all take different roads. We all see the heights we wish to reach. We all climb out of valleys of darkness. And we all face barriers between us and our goals.
We can’t all use the same sledgehammer to break those barriers down. It’s all on us. Nobody can do it for us, and while we may draw inspiration or encouragement from others, in the end the hammer’s in our hands, not theirs.
I might not be successful right now, or even in the near future. I may continue to struggle. I know I’ll still have to make difficult decisions, turn down things I crave and live with questions for myself of what I could have done differently, what others might have done, what could have been.
On the other hand?
I’m working. I’m editing. I’m critiquing. I’m gaming. And I’m writing.
It’s hammer time.
September 9, 2010 at 11:22 am
Boss, I’ll say the same thing I am sure I’ve said before: keep to it. Hammer. Learn. Nail. ???. Profit.
Of many of the people I know throughout the ‘Net, I have a ton of confidence in you. Your style improves. You words are more entertaining and more thought provoking. You do this while going through the grind of life and somehow pop out something creative. You don’t let life kill your soul.
I know it’s frustrating, but if you’ve got the commitment, you can do this. Here’s the good news – you’ve already shown you have that commitment.
September 9, 2010 at 3:00 pm
This says it all, brother. I too keep banging on that wall, hoping to break through, while serving as the primary breadwinner for my little family. I know that I waited way too long to follow my dreams and start writing again. I’m currently developing a plan to devote more time to my writing, and hopefully make some money.
Unfortunately, my current job is reaching the point of untenability due to the current corporate climate. It is also incompatible with my writing aspirations, as it consumes 50-60 hours/week (including commute) and now has very little, if any, potential for advancement. As it is, we are falling behind financially anyway, so I can feel the leap coming closer.
Keep pounding. Keep refining. Don’t wait until you’re 40, like I did.