Saturday, August 29, 2009

I'm Crashing Down

Mood: weird.
Hating: well, this will be explained in a little bit.
Loving: the beautiful weather. Sure, I miss the humid, smoggy air for summer, but something is to be said about the brisk atmosphere of early fall...
Lip-Syncing: David Cook -- Avalanche


Writers don't make any money at all. We make about a dollar. It's terrible. But then again, we don't work either. We sit around in our underwear until noon then go downstairs and make coffee, fry some eggs, read the paper, read part of a book, smell the book, wonder if perhaps we ourselves should work on our book, smell the book again, throw the book across the room because we are quite jealous that any other person wrote a book, feel terribly guilty about throwing the schmuck's book across the room because we secretly wonder if God noticed our evil jealousy; or worse, our laziness. We then lie across the couch face down and mumble to God to forgive us because we are secretly afraid he is going to dry up all our words because we envied some stupid man's stupid words. And for this, as I said before, we are paid about a dollar.

We are worth so much more.

I hate not having money though. I hate not being able to go to a movie or out for coffee. I hate that feeling at the ATM machine when, after getting some cash, the little receipt spits out; the one with the number on it. The telling number, the ever low number that translates into how many days I have left to feel comfortable. The ATM, to me, often feels like a slot machine. I walk up to it hoping to get lucky.

I feel like a complete loser when I don't have money. That's the real problem. I feel invalidated, as if the gods have not approved my existence, as if my allowance has been cut off because I disappointed my parents. It's ridiculous, the hold that finances can have.

We are worth the money we make. Isn't that the mentality that the society has instilled in us? Maybe this is just a North American thing; maybe people outside of Canada don't think about it. I don't know. But I think about it. I think I am worth what I earn.

Which makes me worth one dollar.

There's another issue though. I am irresponsible with money, if you want to know the truth. I don't have the money to buy big things -- thank God -- so I buy small things. I like new things too much. I like the way they smell, the way they feel. Just the other week, I went out to buy a belt. I needed a belt to go with the new dress that I bought. I got the dress to go with the brand-new pair of gladiator high heels that I had purchased. Therefore, I needed a new belt.

Thing is, I didn't really need the belt. I'm sure if I went in my closet, and searched for just 15 minutes, I probably would have been able to locate that box where my belts were stored. Then it'd just be a matter of picking and choosing. The same idea applies to the dress. But I had seen those shoes just a few days prior. I stood there looking at them, having come across them by accident, and I realized just how very much I needed them. And they were on sale! It was a sign. So I bought them.

Later on, as I was discussing my most recent purchase(s) with Johnny, a friend of mine, he asked if those shoes had really been necessary. I replied that yes, they were. I could wear them to the upcoming wedding we were attending. He then asked if I had an outfit to go with them. I realized that I needed an outfit to go with the shoes.

And the story continues in the same fashion. I only say all this to show that I have a problem with buying things I really don't need. I saw this documentary once about the brain that says habits are formed when the "pleasure centre" of the brain lights up as we do a certain behaviour. The documentary mentioned that some people's pleasure centres light up when they buy things. I wondered if my pleasure centre did that.

My best friend, Robbie, constantly tells me how terrible I am with the little money I have. I remember a conversation, in the recent past, where I mentioned that I was interested in buying a blouse (we don't get the opportunity to talk often, but sometimes he just wants to chat about mundane things; says it distracts from the exhausting routine of the military). I proceeded to describe the shirt, and told him I thought it was a good investment. I would be going for some job interviews soon, and it'd be useful to have. He just sort of sat there.

"Robbie, are you there?" I asked.

"Yes," he replied.


"Are you serious Kris? Are you going to waste perfectly good money on more clothes?"


"Well, uh, that'd be a pretty dumb thing to do when there are children starving in India!"

I hate it when Robbie does this. Honestly, it can be so annoying. It's happened so often, that the little voice in my head -- you know, the one most people call a conscience -- has adopted the deep timbre and slight francophone accents of Robbie's voice.

Robbie's right about spending money though. He is right about pretty much everything. I've learned this the hard way. Maybe it's something in the water at that military base. He once challenged me to stop buying lunch. He said, if I were to save that twenty dollars a week I spent, and instead gave it to Northwest Medical Teams or Amnesty International, I would be saving lives. Literally. But that stupid pleasure centre goes off in my brain, and it feels like there is nothing I can do about it. I told Robbie about the pleasure centre, and how I needed to buy that shirt to make the pleasure centre light up again. He just took the phone away from his ear and beat it against his chair.

The thing about new things is, you feel new when you buy them. You feel as though you are somebody different. We are our possessions, you know. There are people who get addicted to buying new stuff. Things. Piles and piles of things. But the new things quickly become old things. We need new things to replace the old things.

I have a day job though. Well, I did. I use to work in a coffee shop. Then I played a couple of gigs with my minimal guitar skills. Then I sang with a band. Then I served tables at a restaurant. I only recently quit because I'll be starting school next week. Whenever someone would ask what I wanted to do, I thought I had an answer.

"Well, I want to be a writer," I'd say with a grin.

"Oh, that's lovely. What kind of writer?"


It's not that I have a preference of any sort. Fiction, non-fiction; essays, reports, short stories, plays; I enjoy them all. I tend to work with an idea, instead of a style. If an idea would play out better in a play, I'll write a play. If an expose would be better in a humorous coloumn, then that's what I'll do. I mean, I am going into school for writing. I just paid (well, the RESP my parents set up when I was born just paid) a deposit for tuition; trust me, I'm going to university. All that money is telling me I'm going to university.

But sometimes I wonder whether or not I truly am lazy. You know, legitimately, one-of-the-deadly-sins/sloth lazy. When you are a writer (or aspire to be one), you feel lazy even when you are working. Who gets paid to sit around in a coffee shop all day and type into a computer? But I do work, I kept telling myself. I showed up at the coffee shop/restaurant/studio/bar every shift, and in the evenings I would do to the coffee shop/bedroom/living room and write. I worked. I wrote. I drove myself crazy writing.

The thing is, I'm writing without a contract. So I'm not really writing for money; I'm writing in hopes of money. And when you are writing without a contract, you feel as though everything you say is completely worthless (technically, it is, until you get a contract).

You can write all day and still not feel like you have done anything.A person needs to do some work, needs to get his hands dirty and calloused. He (or she, as the case may be) needs to hammer his thumb every one in awhile. He needs to get tired at the end of the day. Not just mind-tired; body-tired too.

I'm not feeling body tired. Not lately. I've just been exhausted mentally. Yet I sit awake, at 3.00am, at 4.00am, at 5.00am, staring at my laptop screen. Too tired to write anymore, but not tired enough to go to bed. And now that I have no day-job, I just sit in front of my laptop and type again. I type and I type and I type. I'ved typed so much that I can't type anymore. I can't. I put so much effort into what I write that I've got nothing left now. So not only am I not physically tired, I don't have any money either. Except I can't validate myself with my regular passion and emotions speech, the one that says those things don't matter, since I'm doing what I love, because...I don't know anymore.

I don't know what to do. I don't know what to write. I don't even know what to feel anymore. I'm so exhausted, so run-down, that I don't feel like a person anymore.

I'm in a bad place. And I'm not sure how to get out. What can a discouraged student do? Have I made the right choice?

Is being a writer really worth it?

1 comment:

Jo said...

Kris, dear, I was so happy to recognize your thoughts here. You know... that pretty feeling of rediscovering something you always loved, but for some reason lost sight of. I really wish you'd keep writing. I really wish, again, for the thousandth time things would be easier for you as a writer, but then again, it's how things are.

I have so much more to talk to you about, I miss you so give me a sign!

Always, Lovecraft.