Even though I'm still working a few jobs, it's occurred to me that I spent the majority of my time and headspace this week devoted to writing for AfterEllen: writing articles for them, thinking about future articles I'm writing for them, reading through comments, emailing with people, reading reading reading, etc. It's been sort of exhausting but this realization just made me think: wait, does this mean I'm Doing This?
Other signs that point to Yes: I just had a conversation with an editor who's going to be my official writing mentor, in order to make sure I'm, you know, not sucking. I have a mentor! Isn't that neat? And just in the last hour, I've gotten emails from two published authors telling me about their books for me to review. In addition: in the midst of the writing frenzy for AE, I've been inspired to submit something somewhere else, and I started working on this personal essay for myself that I've been thinking about on and off for a long time. (Spoiler: it is about trees. Yep. Trees.)
So, I mean. I think I am Doing This. It is a little overwhelming, to be honest. I'm grateful one of my jobs is ending this week so I'll have time to sit down and get a better handle on this new sudden, strange Writing Life.
As I promised myself in my first Trying To Do This post a month ago, I need to document all the shit that's in my head about all this shit because it might be monumentally boring to anyone else but if it helps clear my brain then I will write better and I will be happier and the world will explode in rainbows. Okay maybe not that last part, but it IS Pride month, so who knows what could happen.
Okay. Here's what I've learned.
- OMG, writing takes a lot of time, did you know that? Like, even when you are writing a simple thing that's not that long, it will still take you a long time! Of course you knew this, because it often takes you hours to just write a blog post here that only 10 people read. (Thanks, 10 people!) So deal with it, it's fine!
- (But also maybe you should establish some routines that help you actually concentrate, and make your life more efficient, as opposed to spending lots of time when you could be Producing Stuff just feeling sleepy and uninspired and weird in your pajamas, looking at Tumblr?)
- (I mean, I'm not telling you to ignore Tumblr because Tumblr is amazing. But maybe wake up earlier, start the day fresh with tea and an attitude that You Can Do Everything!, and also, if you're going to be spending hours in front of the computer, have better posture, for Christ's sake. Also, take breaks to clear your head.)
- After spending a lot of time working on A Thing, sometimes, hardly anyone will comment on that thing. That's okay. Was it meaningful to you when you wrote it? Are you proud of it? Okay, that's all that matters.
- Anyway, people often only comment when they have something extra to add or something to whine about, which is understandable. You read lots of stuff you like and you don't comment on it, either. Because who has time to comment on everything these days! (As part of a writing community, though, you probably should comment more.)
- Writing, for you, seems to be an almost all-or-nothing pursuit: when you haven't written in a while, it feels almost impossible to start again, and you spend all of your time brooding about how you haven't written anything in a while and you probably never will again, sob, sigh! But then once you do write something, you suddenly want to write ALL THE THINGS and shout ALL OF YOUR THOUGHTS AND IDEAS TO THE WORLD! On and on and on word vomiting everywhere!
- After you word vomit for a while though, you start to get self-conscious. Because like...God, isn't everyone tired of you, already? How much time can one really spend devoting their life to their own thoughts? Being surrounded by nothing but your own words can be a real mindfuck. Things start to get real meta and you start to feel tired and sick of yourself and you stop even though you have more to say.
- Listen: don't stop. Keep writing. You might be exhausted, but those words will disappear if you don't write them down now. Trust me.
- Speaking of the exhaustion thing, though: at the same time, listen to your body. Listen to your girlfriend. I know you want to take anything someone asks you to do, and I would continue doing this, but that day earlier this week where you tutored at two schools and you worked for six hours at Starbucks, AND you wrote two articles for AE, and you felt frantic all day and only got two hours of sleep by the time you finished everything? Let's be honest, that day kind of fucked up your body for the rest of the week. You still feel kind of tired and weird two days later. So let's not do that, anymore.
- Hey, when you're writing about something you're not completely familiar with, you better do your research a little better. Yes, even if that takes EVEN LONGER than it's already taking you to string sentences together. People will call you on your shit and you'll feel mad at yourself because you know you're better and you want to sound smart, and you are smart, so be smart.
- Write as much as you can for AE. But listen: keep writing for yourself, too. Make time to keep writing for yourself. It's important. Because while just writing about TV and culture and entertainment is all very fun, when that's all your mind is constantly churning on about, your soul fades away a little, too. Remember your soul, lady, okay? You like her.
- Also: keep reading. But what the hell am I saying! You already knew that.
- Be grateful. Always.
The real exciting news? When I have all of this down, at least a little better, in a few months, I'm planning on not serving lattes and frappuccinos anymore. I'll write, and I'll help kids if I can, and for the first time in my life, I'll only be doing things I want to do. It'll be harder, in a way, and I'll have to constantly Be Better. But holy shit, is the idea exciting. Mind-blowing, even.
Thank you, world, for helping me Do This.