Author has written 2 stories for Sci-Fi, and Horror.
The thought of writing fiction makes me sad.
I'm sad because I can't ever seem to get to the point where I could make writing into a career, and writing is the only thing I'm good at. It doesn't pay almost anything at first, but my bills are due NOW. I am forced to squeeze writing in between things that do pay. Most of the time, I have to give up on creating all these ideas I have. There isn't time: I have to go to work again.
Like most of you, I have yet to figure out a way to forgo several years worth of meals, just so I can afford to wait who-knows-how-long for a paycheck that may never arrive. It seems like a rotten gamble to me, sort of like hoping to win the lottery before you retire, because you can't afford to invest in a retirement plan. (That sounds a lot like my retirement plan! Only... I don't actually play the lottery. I don't get welfare, you see, so I can't afford to play the lottery.)
Writing fiction makes me sad, because it is the only thing I've ever been good at. Yet, if I write instead of going to my horrible, low-paying, and dangerous job every day, then everyone who depends on me will suffer.
Plus, everyone who depends on me who is over the age of reason also says that writing is a waste of time. If I do something that they see as a waste of time when I could be out making money to give them, then they will make my life hell for it. I won't get any writing done anyways, and they'll say things like, 'See! We told you so. Writing is a waste of time." I know what they'll say, because I've tried it. That's what they said.
Now, just so you know, I don't actually mind as much as you'd think that my job is dangerous. The dangerous bits give me epiphany and inspiration. Since my job comes with zero benefits otherwise, I have to consider those my benefits or spend my days pissed off that my job sucks so much.
Until you look down the barrel of a gun aimed specifically at your own heart, there are things you will never know about yourself. Those moments where I know I may die are also moments when all the crap and bullshit falls away, and I am simplified, purified.
I suppose I should get a different job, but I really don't care. I've never worked anywhere that I considered worthwhile. All non-writing jobs are the same to me. They're all miserable. They're all death-traps in one way or another.
In addition, I was conditioned from an early age to see myself as expendible. Thanks to this, in my mind, if something happens to me at work, the people around me might end up better off in the long-run.
I was taught to see myself as a burden. Especially after I came down with a chronic and life-threatening disease as a child, I was taught that it was only right of me to choose the betterment of others over myself every time. It was explained to me that this was how I could make up for how much everyone around me has to give up just to keep me alive. I was told that the other people, the healthy people, should get first dibs on the collective resources available to the group, because their betterment held more potential for the group as a whole than my own did. I was taught that each person gets a certain share, and if that person used up their share of resources because they had expensive health issues, then so be it. Why should everyone else suffer?
It seems like a pretty harsh judgement to bring down on the head of a kid, but when you're a kid, you don't always recognize when someone is being unfair. Even if you do see it, you have no way to fight against it. There are two obvious choices; accept it or fight a battle you don't have a chance in hell of winning on your own.
There is also a third choice, but it's usually outside the patience of most kids. You seem to accept it, and, secretly, you work to become strong enough to fight.
When my brother got a pair of designer shoes before school started, if there was anything left, I was allowed to try to find something with that amount. If there wasn't enough to buy anything, then I wore the old shoes I already had. I knew if I protested, if I asked that we all split the amount and all got a regular pair of shoes instead of some of us getting really nice shoes and some getting none, I wouldn't have had anyone on my side.
I learned to choose extremely durable, albeit ugly and unstylish, shoes whenever I was able. That way, I reasoned, I could shrug and say I didn't care because I already had shoes, instead of trying to win an argument I couldn't win no matter how I negotiated. The shoes I chose were those that would last and last, so I didn't have to beg for scraps to get new ones all the time.
It certainly didn't help me make friends at school, to come dressed in ratty clothes that didn't really fit me anymore. Certainly, though, it made sense to me. If I had to choose between keeping my feet protected and dry and having friends, well, who needs friends that bad anyways?
And that was just shoes. All sorts of other important things, necessary for modern existence, were the same way for me, too.
Even though my grades and scores were near perfect, I was taken out of school early to be put in homeschool. At that time, homeschool was a death sentence for one's academic success. I protested, but since I was still a minor, I had no choice. Later, when school was over, my brother only had to ask to have his college paid for. I got a GED a year before I would have actually graduated. I propositioned my parents for help funding a college education, but the answer was no for me. They said, "We already spent it all on your brother. Wait a while, and maybe there will be more."
Being homeschooled at that time meant you were a dropout, and having a GED (the only degree you could get if you were homeschooled) pretty much cinched the deal. It locked you out of most scholarships and quite a few colleges, no matter what kind of scores you had to prove you were worthy. I worked part-time jobs and hammered the colleges with applications and scholarship requests. Always, my GED was a roadblock to financing and admission.
I finally managed to score entrance and a half-scholarship to a university. I asked my parents for help funding college again, this time, I only wanted help with the other half that wasn't covered by the scholarship. The answer was no again. They said they didn't think I could handle college. They said, and I quote, "It would be a waste of our money to help you with the rest."
So I laid hands on an old van, and I tried to go to college without any social support from my family. I pretty much cut them off. I stopped talking to them. I got a prepay phone with a different number and just abandoned the one I had. I put all the stuff I could use in boxes.
(And, luckily for me, I had been stockpiling longterm road trip equipment and supplies since I got my first job. The reason? I had a feeling I would end up needing them. So, I had extension cords, an electric heater, an electric fan, several clip-on low watt lamps, several collapsible coolers, plenty of stackable tupperware storage bins, water containers, dehydrated foods, a few sheepskin rugs that were perfect for a bed, and a milk crate or two.)
I lived in the van because, with a part time job, the scholarship, and school loans coming in, but no rent or utilities, I could just about afford to pay for tuition, classes, books and food. I lied about living in the van because I knew what people at the university would think. I got friends to "let me use their mailing address while I looked for an apartment" in order to hide the fact that I lived in a van. I showered in the university gym, and slept evenings til closing time at the library during the coldest winter days. I washed clothes at a laundromat. I studied at my "desk", which was a table in a local 24 hour cafe. They let me stay as long as I bought a cup of coffee, and as long as they didn't get too busy. A few close friends knew my secret, and occasionally let me sleep on their couches. I had to change my diet, so that the food I had wouldn't get ruined by the extreme temperatures I had to endure inside the van.
I learned all about how to stay alive on literally a few dollars a month. I learned just how tenacious and daring a person has to be when they don't have money or social support. I learned how to make myself completely invisible in a crowd, how to hide In plain sight. I learned how to seem like I belonged wherever I was, even though I never, not once, felt like I belonged anywhere.
There's a lot more, but I'll try to tell you quick...
I got sick from all the stress caused by being homeless and a full-time college student. I had to quit school after I underwent an emergency surgery as a result of that illness. After recovering, I moved to Alaska for a contract job. I came back to my hometown. I learned to run a soundboard and ran sound for a small traveling band. When the band broke up, I considered taking a civilian service job overseas with the military. Before I signed the paperwork, I stumbled into a chance to live in a teepee in Southern Kentucky. I thought, 'Why not?' Several years later, I had a baby girl. I left Kentucky because I knew "roughing it" was no place for an infant. I worked in a smoke shop. I ran my own business for a while. I worked in a slaughterhouse, where I was surprised when I met the love of my life. I cleaned houses. I did other pointless jobs, including the one I do now.
Now, I'm in school for something I hate. I hate it because it's not writing. I do it because the costs of maintaining my chronic illness have shot up significantly in the last few years. I need to make more money to afford the medication, or I will die without it.
Right now, I spend my days in an almost constant struggle to pay for the medication. Just imagine if you had to work to pay for the air you breathe. Imagine that the air you need to stay alive was prohibitively expensive, taking up almost all of the money you made when you worked. You couldn't say no. You couldn't refuse to buy it because the consequences wouldn't be merely inconvenient or uncomfortable. You would die without it. So, like a good little slave, because that's what you would be, you would work under threat of death, and starve and suffer all sorts of deprivations in order to hand the product of your labor to someone else. And that's what my life is like.
And, all the while, in secret, I have spent what time I have leftover writing, reading and studying fiction.
Even though I know I'll never do it as a job, I still can't help it. I've known it was what I was born to do since I was three, when I realized I wanted to be a dragon slayer, and not a [email protected]# princess like all the other girls.
The way I see it, these websites where we post things we have written for free, these are probably going to be the pinnacle of my writing career.
Part of me is exceptionally glad I wasn't born in an earlier time, when a stifled writer would have scribbled their work into secret notebooks that wouldnt be found or read until after they died. At least, thanks to the net, someone reads what I write before I am dead.
Writing fiction makes me sad because I know things could have been so much better if I had ever had someone who would stand behind me. But, life isn't fair, and I didn't have that.
Still, I can't seem to make myself stop writing no matter how much it hurts.
Ouch. See? I did it again. Ouch.