Today was rough. (Warning: Personal Blog Post Ahead)
I needed to talk to someone in my family. This being Mother’s Day, I decided not to burden my mom with my problems. My sister and I have spoken… maybe twice since Christmas? So, she’s out.
I was left with Dad. Now, my dad has, in recent months, begun to tell me that he is one-hundred-percent supportive of my writing career. He’s allowed me to bounce some ideas of off him, and together, we’ve come up with some good strategies. In the past, my father has helped me out financially, but it’s been years since I’ve asked my parents for money. I’ve survived on credit cards and creatively paying bills for quite some time. I survive paycheck to paycheck. No kid wants to ask their parents for money. I know I certainly don’t. I don’t ever intend to again, and it certainly wasn’t the conversation I wanted to have with my father today, but I had to let him know that I was in debt and working to get out. (Why? I’m not sure. I’m 38, and you’d think I’d stop needing my parents’ approval at some point, but I haven’t.)
I was trying to tell him about my need to write. We’ve talked about it before, and I can say and write a million things that really connect with readers, but I cannot convince my father that writing is not a hobby. It is a physiological need. It’s the only thing I’ve found in life that makes me truly happy. I love my friends, and I love the time I spend with them, but it’s not the same. I know I’m different. My friends know I’m different (which makes me love them more), but I can’t get my dad to understand what writing is to me.
Thirty minutes into the conversation – which was essentially, “Dad, I can’t keep this up, I’m dying under the weight of real job, marketing, selling, writing, sleeping, etc.” – and he asks me, “What if you gave up writing for a year to focus on your real job, just to make enough money to pay off the debt?”
Shocked. I was absolutely shocked that that was his solution.
It’s not that he’s not listening. He just doesn’t understand the way my brain works, because it’s not the way his brain works. He explained, “I worked for forty years in a job I didn’t really like. You do it because you have to.” He just doesn’t get it. This isn’t about me not wanting to do my real job anymore. In truth, my real job is not a bad job. I might even say it’s a good job. But it takes away so many hours from the one thing I love to do, the one thing that clears my head, and the one thing that brings me happiness, and for that, I don’t like the job. I resent it, and I resent the people there, and I shouldn’t. It’s not their fault.
Somewhere a little further into the conversation, I realized that by confessing to my dad that I have debt (again), he thought I was asking him for money. I assured him repeatedly that I wasn’t, and that I fully support him and my mother living out their retirement years comfortably. They deserve that, and they’ve worked hard to make that a reality. Once I realized that the debt thing was the only thing my dad had really heard, I realized it was a waste of my time to continue the conversation.
The message I’d wanted him to get was this: I may make a decision sooner rather than later that may make no sense logically, or financially, but it might be the thing I have to do to keep myself sane and alive. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic, but there are days – and I had one last week – when I see that things aren’t going well in sales, when I haven’t had time to write, and when I feel like this passion to write is wasted on someone who will never be able to commit to that passion. There are days when I feel so desperate that I don’t think I can continue at this pace and with this heavy load.
I’m not suicidal, but I do fear for my own life sometimes. I see the need for a way out, and my brain churns and churns for that way out. I know that I am not happy where I’m at, and I know things have to change… and I know it’s within my power to do so, but I also know I have no ones’s total support in making that decision. Of my friends, there is literally only one friend that I’ve met in real life who has read all of my work. One. There is a second friend that I met online who’s read them all. And then there are the readers (some have become friends in the process), who beg for more… but no one in my family or my close circle of friends would consider themselves a “fan” of my work. I guess most of my friends got bored with the storyline, or the characters, or my writing. Admittedly, they’ve been subjected to many, many, many conversations about the Holland family and the other cast of characters in my books. It’s not a requirement for my closest friends to be “fans,” but hell, it sure would be nice if they were. Why?
Because the fact that they haven’t read everything puts doubt in my head. It makes me think that I’m not good enough. That I can’t sustain a story. That I can’t keep up the pace. That I can’t keep people interested. It makes me think they don’t believe in me, so how can I believe in myself?
It’s difficult, but I thank the readers for balancing me out. The fact that I make them happy motivates me.
Anyway, I feel I got very little accomplished with my father, who I’d hoped would understand and be an ally. When I left their house, I felt like they wouldn’t support me (emotionally) if I was to quit my job tomorrow, as crazy as the idea is to me, to them, to everyone. I needed to feel like they would, because if they would, it would have meant that they finally understood my brain. It would have made me feel that my happiness is important to them, too. Instead, I feel like they just don’t want me to be a burden to them, and that I need to do whatever I possibly have to do to ensure that doesn’t happen.
And I will. Ultimately, I live my life for me. It’s one of the bonuses of being single with no children. I need to be able to make the choices necessary to keep me from going to those desperate places… and I need to make sure that, when I falter, I find the emotional strength within me to pull myself up again. Maybe some friends will be there to help, maybe they won’t. I hope they will, but in the end, we live and die alone… it’s sad, but true.