I love the winds we get at the end of the year. They’re so calming, refreshing, and a little melancholic. I wonder how much more impactful it would be if we had seasons, if it were snowing instead and we were all swaddled up, sipping coffee or hot chocolate.
I find myself feeling very strongly now that I want to make a living as a writer. As a friend pointed out, I’m already doing it, in a sense. But I’m still not “fully self-actualized” yet. What does that mean, what does that look like? What am I taking about? I’m talking about the dream scenario, where I literally get to make a living writing whatever I feel like writing, without having to worry about any considerations other than “is this a piece of writing that deserves to live, that I’m proud of?”.
Bunch of thoughts about that:
Nobody owes me such circumstances. They’re idealistic but achievable. I’m thinking about people like Neil Gaiman, Chuck Palahniuk, the woman who wrote the Divergent series, and folks like Matthew Inman, Tim Urban, the folks at Crash Course and so on. It’s not like wanting to be Bill Gates or Elon Musk. I have relatively modest, acheivable goals.
So what’s the path to getting there? Well, I have to keep producing content and putting it out there. Right now I’m still in the middle of this word vomit project. The main intent here is to help me become a better writer. To become even more intimate with the written word than I already am. This project was conceived about 3 years ago, before I had developed more concrete ambitions of being a professional writer. So it’s a little underoptimized (but I’m intent on seeing it through anyway, to prove to myself that I can do it, and to build a habit of finishing what I set out to do.)
What would I do differently if I were doing everything from scratch?
Well the first thing I would do is to list out a bunch of conflicts and pain points that I’ve either encountered or thought about over the years. Then I would attempt to represent them accurately in fiction.
Another thing I would do is simply write fan fiction. There is no shame in that, in fact there’s a ready audience and it’s no different from doing covers of popular songs. If I wanted to be a professional musician, I would start out by playing other people’s songs. Every professional musician alive did the same. That’s how we learn and develop, at anything. Imitation, acquisition and so on.
I find myself thinking about the relationship between author and persona, or narrator, or actor and act. I find myself thinking particularly of Louis CK, George Carlin, Russell Brand, Lady Gaga. Before these people could become the 24/7 larger-than-life giants that we know or knew them to be, they had to work on their craft behind the scenes. And I find myself obsessing a little unnecessarily about the difficulty of the transition. Before you can become fully out-and-proud, which is bound to be a little unnerving to loved ones, you have to try it out in contained contexts. When you’re on stage. Maybe I ought to go back to doing standup, at least a few more times.
Hmm. Do I want to make a living as a writer? I think it would be nice to be paid to write things that I really believe in, and to be paid so much that I don’t need to do anything else. But let’s unpackage that.
1. I would like to write things that I really believe in. I haven’t even really started with that. What does that look like? I’m currently doing content marketing, and I do “believe in that” in a sense that I think it’s helpful and useful to the people I’m doing it for. But it’s not what I personally want or need. I’m still, in a sense, a wedding singer. Which isn’t a bad thing. The Beatles used to be a cover band in Hamburg.
2. I would like to be paid to write things (that I really believe in). If I just wanted to get paid for writing words, I could be a freelance writer and do content marketing. That would be relatively easy, but I might as well keep my day job because I get to play the meta-games for that, too, which means more $$ and more learning and growth in areas that will be unexpectedly useful for me in other spheres.
3. I want to be paid so much that I don’t need to do anything else. I think this is primarily an ego thing. Just this idea that I might be supported economically by the parts of my brain that enjoy doing things that they enjoy for themselves. It’s the closest thing to a modern-civilization equivalent of hunting and eating your own food… and choosing exactly what you like, what you want.
I got interrupted while writing this to talk to a friend, and I ended up talking about this with him. I realize that for me to become the writer I want to be, I need to do writing that is in the direction of the writing that I want to read. I’ve said several times that I want to rewrite certain things. Well, why not start now? Start in bits and pieces? I can do that. And so I’m going to do that. I’m going to make a post titled “rewrite”, and list out the things I want to rewrite, and then link those things to posts where I literally rewrite the things that I want to rewrite. And instead of putting it off until I can do it all at once, I’ll just publish the most simplistic outlines as quickly as I can– “reverse cauliflower style” (summarize in a sentence, then a paragraph, then a set of points, etc.)
I think that should be interesting. Writing in the “architecting hyperlinks” sense rather than writing paragraphs after paragraphs (like I’m doing with these vomits.)