I’m on vacation. The rest of this blog post is a rant of epic proportions. Best skip it.
“Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”
That’s a lovely sentiment, and for the most part I agree. It makes sense to pour all your energy into one thing in order to do a good job. Unfortunately, Ron, I’m going to have to disagree with you on practice, at least in regards to my life. I work for a living and while I love my job, I have outside interests that I wouldn’t mind doing as a full-time job if possible. Which means that I am half-assing things in my life.
And boy is that an accurate statement. As much as I can try to do a good job, there are some hardcore people around me that make me look bad. And that’s in my full time job and my writing and painting hobbies. The thing is, I learned as a kid that no matter what I do or how hard I try there will always be someone who is doing it better. I will never be the best at anything.
Cracked.com named these awesomer people “Clark” in an article. They say there will always be people more talented than you and that’s fine. Well, no Cracked it’s not fine with me. It’s fucking devastating to know that no matter how hard I try I am only destined to failure or mediocrity at best. That any struggle is worthless since I’m only ever on a long journey to the middle*. The only way I’ll win is if the standards of success are lowered and the Clarks of the world are busy doing other things. Yeah, why would anyone feel bad about that?
So since I’ve long realized I’m a perfectionist, I’m going to try half-assing a few things in my life. For example, today I submitted a presentation proposal in my field. They already rejected me once, so this time I sent a half-assed submission. Can’t be too upset if that gets rejected. Also, NaNo is coming up and there are a few short stories I want to finally take into a 2nd draft for submission. I’m going to half-ass those edits too. So what? What’s it matter when my best was never good enough?
You said it, Bruce.
* “You‘ll meet them all again on their long journey to the middle” – Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs in Almost Famous.
I may have mentioned before that I may or may not have been somewhat popular back in school. If I was, it was as one of the crazies and not like Regina George’s crew. Seriously, I was more Janis, though not as awesome. But ok, people still say I’m a bit snobbish and elitist or whatever. And more than one person has called me “mean” (and many other worse things).
What I mean to say is, I know both sides of the coin. I’ve never told someone they couldn’t sit with me, but I’ve been told I’ve been too intimidating sometimes and people are afraid I will bite their head off if they sit with me. I won’t, by the way. Just saying. I’ve also seen cliques back in school I really thought were cool and I wanted to hang with all of them. Mostly I’m thinking of this group of rocker kids in 8th grade that I really admired, but I was just a 7th grader. I was just starting to get the clothing and so I wasn’t a part of that group.
So I’ve recently been going through similar feelings. I don’t want to get too into it in case those acquaintances happen to wander into this website. I’ve been going to a group event where the tables are a bit disjointed and I always end up alone on a side table since I have my daughter with me and I don’t want to take up so much space at the main table. What happens though is that the folk at the main table start talking amongst themselves and I’m left odd man out.
They aren’t doing it on purpose, and sometimes they try to include me. But the thing is, because of the noise level, sometimes I miss portions of what they are saying. Sometimes my daughter wants me to explain something that someone said and by the time I’m done I’ve gotten lost from the conversation.
There’s only so many times I can say “what was that?” or “what did she say?” before I start feeling like the loser trailing after the cool kids. I tried for a bit, but then I just gave up. Last time I went was the last draw for me and I left early feigning sickness. I’m sure I wasn’t missed. I haven’t been back since, but I’ll be back for the main big event coming up. After that, I don’t know. It was a great way for me to motivate myself into doing stuff, but I ended up spending a lot of the time I was there just trying to fit in. Ultimately, I felt like I was trying too hard and that’s like the opposite of cool.
And so now I’m officially sitting at home and binge watching TV shows and reading fan fiction with all my spare time. Was “no outside interests” and “no friends” the next step to crazy cat lady land? I want to make sure I have everything ready for the cats when I get them.
Most times when I’m living out my day-to-day life I imagine I’m somewhere else doing awesome things. When I snap out of my fantasy I get sad so I go back in my head where I’m sitting on a panel at a convention looking at people dressed up as characters I invented. Sometimes I’m on the set of the new movie being filmed about a book I wrote. Sometimes I’m sitting in my office where my desk faces the window that looks out into the large garden in the back of my New England style house. Basically, anywhere but here.
This means that I end up doing a whole lot of nothing but working and then going home to read myself into somewhere other than my life. Or as my BFF hinted (in his mix-tape selection gift to me) in his astute observation “now real life has no appeal. It has no appeal” (Marina & the Diamonds).
And sometimes I think to myself that I when I get home I am going to edit those books I’ve written and the short stories too. But I never do. It’s about to hit August and I haven’t even looked at my last years NaNo more than once to change the order of the chapters. And I think, well if I get on it now then maybe in a few months I can send it out to a publisher and then… well it’ll take like a year to publish best case scenario… and then even if it did become popular I probably wouldn’t be on a panel at any convention for at least five years. That’s a long time. I could have been there by now if I’d started years ago when I first did NaNo. But I didn’t. I’m a loser.
It’s a big cycle of negativity in my head only broken up by brief moments of escapism.
I’m at a point in my life where I think this might be it. I’m happy in my job. I love it. I can afford to take care of myself and my daughter without stressing the numbers too much. Overall, things are good. So today I thought to myself, why don’t I just self-publish then. Why give myself more of a headache trying to send stuff out and getting rejected for years while giving no one even a possibility of reading my work. Even having two readers would be an ego boost.
I think I’m going to aim for that then. I want to write like Kilgore Trout and just throw my stuff up online in self-published e-books. I’ll just edit, maybe convince a couple of my friends who read in genre to look it over for comments and copy-editing and then just throw it on there. Let the internet fairies do what they will. Like my stuff on Zazzle. I’ve actually made $35 from that. Also, it’s kind of cool knowing someone liked it enough to buy it. Right now there are a handful of people walking around the world with a poster, iphone case, or necktie that I designed. Neat.
For NaNo this year, I’m thinking of writing an Epic poem. I hate poetry, and a few months ago I was drinking and claimed that anyone could write a book of poetry. It’s not difficult. Perhaps it’s difficult to write good poetry, but since I can’t stand about 90% of poems I’ve come across, I really can’t judge the good from the bad. So I’m going to write one big long badly-written Epic poem just for the challenge. I love a writing challenge.
Today I was looking into my dump all hotmail account and I found a review for a fanfiction I wrote perhaps 10 years ago. I’m like seriously people are still finding this story? It’s been 10 years in a popular fandom, how is it not buried underneath thousands of new stories? Sometimes I want to take down all the fanfiction stories I’ve written, but I hate when other writers do that to me and then I can’t find a fic I loved. So I leave them up for anyone who read them and liked it enough to bookmark. And because, you know what, I did it. I wrote it. It’s done. I’m going to own up to it.
“I’m a perfectionist And perfect is a skinned knee…”
– Midlife Crisis, Faith No More
So I just turned 35. Fuck.
I’ve been making a big deal and badgering myself for the last couple of months with this looming in the distance. 35 is middle-aged. The point where perhaps the years ahead of you are not so many as the years behind you. When it’s impossible to be cool. When you are no longer the future of this world. You are the status quo and soon you will be the antiquated. This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.*
It feels bad. Mind you, my current status quo is pretty sweet. I am here and it feels like a good place to be. But I wanted more. Didn’t I always? Like I mentioned in my New Year’s Resolutions, I think there’s still this huge space available in my life where I should be making new memories. I have these stories of my youth and I really don’t want to live the rest of my life without having more stories. So one day when I’m 45 I can sit around with my friends and talk about the stories from our thirties.
Last night at my birthday party we were running horoscope natal charts on each other and something from mine stuck out with me: “your private fantasies are more appealing than the reality around you and it is difficult for you to leave them.” Truer words about me are rarely uttered. This needs to stop. Seriously.
I’m buying myself a new laptop. I’m going to edit my novels. I’m going to write my short stories. My late twenties will be when I practiced and got to know myself as a writer. My early thirties will be the time I got used to writing my own original work. My late thirties will be when I really put myself out there.
“Because the plot thickens every day
And the pieces of my puzzle keep crumblin’ away
But I know, there’s a picture beneath”
– Falling to Pieces, Faith No More
* from the film Fight Club