Last night my soon-to-be roommate informed me that he finally found a house in Safford, Arizona. After that phone call, I felt the freest I have in a long time. I’m finally free to step out of the rut that is my life and start fresh.
These past six years have been rough, the last two in particular. It’s been a struggle to figure out where my niche in society is. It’s very stressful to be yourself when you don’t know where you belong, and when you try one thing after another, just to have them not work out, it gets pretty darn hard to stay positive. And on top of that, when you figure you might as well follow your dreams, since nothing practical is working, people panic and try to discourage you from what they assume is a pipe dream, it’s hard to convince yourself to give your dreams/pipe dream an earnest shot.
When I was little, I thought I was going to be a nurse and I’d have everyone call me Nurse Beth. Come sixth grade I wanted to be a storm chaser and pursue storms all over Tornado Alley. I still plan to do that one sumer, just for the thrill of it and some good memories, even if I don’t see a tornado with my naked eyes.
Come either middle or high school, I wanted to be an artist. I drew every day, doodled in all my notebooks, dabbled in watercolor paint, which is frickin’ hard, and even took art classes in undergrad. But there were so many people who were so much better.
So maybe it was soccer. I played the sport for fourteen years, was a very good goalie, but got smothered by sports politics and ran out of drive to continue much after high school. I could’ve easily gotten a walk-on position as goalie for CCSU but I’d lost my passion for it during the two years I went to a community college.
Long story short: I was originally going to major in English in undergrad but instead I completed a degree in Theatre with a Creative Writing minor instead, since I’d discovered my love for writing shortly after high school. In the beginning it was all fun and improv games, but when I learned to tell the difference between good and bad acting, and that I didn’t fall under the “good” category, the feeling of being lost cropped up. I developed a healthy respect for those brave enough to become really talented actors; good acting is hard. I finished the degree I started and went into hiding for a year.
My focus came back to writing in that time. I started working a Barnes & Noble, but they stuck me in the café. I don’t. Drink. Coffee. *flat glare* And working in a book store turned out to be just another customer service job, even when they put me on the book floor. Still, while there, I met someone who encouraged me to look into the only grad school I ever applied for: WCSU. I entered the MFA program all googly-eyed and thinking I’d be the next best things on bookshelves.
Um, no. Instead I learned to write much better as I met more wonderful, talented people. After the first year, I realized I needed to have a day job while trying to get published on the side. I wasn’t going to land myself a literary agent just because I went to grad school for writing. So my second year I gave up my high school Track & Field coaching position and got into teaching at the college level. The job wasn’t bad. It felt good to help students become better writers and critical thinkers, and encourage them to ask questions, but budget cuts shot down any chance of me ever securing so much as an adjunct position. Every place I went wanted at least five years of experience (preferably 9+). Well damn. There went that option.
Thus began two very dark years where I felt like I was doing nothing more than wasting resources to keep my sorry ass alive. But I pushed through it. After eight months, I got back in the habit of writing every day. I completely rewrote a book I’d done years ago, then started on the third in the trilogy. I got my Master’s thesis published, fired my first ePublisher after he left me high and dry, and even neglected to pay what little royalties due to me, hired a new one, and relaunched my book. I’ll give you an update on how it’s doing come June 1st. Right now I don’t know, nor do I want to know. I’m in the middle of writing a book which, as of today, has maybe five chapters left before I complete the draft (see To Ocean’s End in the Publications & Current Projects tab). That’ll be the next book I make available to the rest of the world. And after that, probably the second book in my trilogy. We’ll see.
I struggle to take pride in where I’ve come from and where I’m going. People look at me like I’m an idiot for the degrees I’ve earned. I don’t regret my time spent in the Theatre department. I met so many wonderful people who’ve had a positive and lasting impact on my life. And I most certainly don’t regret my graduate degree or the people I met there. What’s practical for me isn’t the same as what’s practical for others. I’m an artist, a writer. I have to follow my heart. I quite honestly would rather be dead if I had to give up writing to take on some mindless, meaningless 9-5 job.
So, yes, enter my next decision: moving to Arizona to start life over. A friend of four years now offered back in January. I didn’t take it seriously until March, when I became jobless for the second time in two years. I’m sure many people will think I’m nuts for doing this, running off to live with a friend and put an full-time effort into becoming a full-time author while managing personal expenses with unemployment. Let me explain the sacrifice for this decision I willingly give.
I don’t drink or smoke. I don’t wear makeup or buy new clothes. I’ve bought new clothes once in the past three years, and only because I got a bonus paycheck for Christmas (thanks, Dad and Wee Mum!). I don’t eat out or go to the movies. I play free online games, like League of Legends, or replay older games I’ve kept around, like Skyrim. I tried downgrading my iPhone to a regular one, but since I’d still have to pay for the stupid data plan, there’s no point. I thought about returning the Prius I bought last June, but it’d count as a repo and gouge a hole in my pristine credit rating. I eat cereal for breakfast, a turkey burger for lunch, and something cheap like pasta for dinner, month after month. I haven’t bought new music in months, and buy books much slower than before (I have to read to stay contemporary and to keep my sanity). I gave up karate and dusted off my roller blades, since it’s free to glide around the neighborhood. I don’t date since I refuse to come off as a gold digger, and I drive my car only when I have to go grocery shopping and such. I just write and pay my bills as they come. The only thing I don’t pay for is the roof over my head. So I keep the house spotless.
Out of everything I don’t spend money on, books, music, and eating out are what I miss the most. I’ve never been a drinker or smoker, and I simply make do with everything else I have. I have no complaints. I could go back to waiting tables and rake in 20-25 bucks an hour but to what point and purpose? To be a human carpet to a bunch of thankless people? I think not. I want more out of my life. I want to be somebody who makes a positive difference in the world.
I’m going to become a successful full-time author because that’s the one thing I want. That is my niche in society. You don’t have to agree with my choice or how I go about reaching this goal. I’m simply not letting anyone discourage or dissuade me from pursuing my life’s passion. The same should go for the rest of you if you haven’t already.