The Clothes That Don’t Fit Anymore

I have a post I’m sitting on at the moment. It touches on the challenges of economics for writers. Well, not so much on the specific economics, but rather on the confluence of frustration and desperation that so often comes with that topic for us. And how the despair and pressure can build into a hopelessness that makes it hard to actually, you know, write.

But there’s a hell of a lot more to the frustrations, and the lack of confidence, than just money. So I decided to write a follow-up to a post I’m not sure I’m even going to use. Huh, go figure.

I’ll repeat something I’ve said before: every single writer out there should do something else, something in addition to writing. Some other form of artistic outlet to hone and strengthen your creativity and brain in different ways. Personally, I do photography. I’ve even gone so far as to use it for another (small) source of income.

Now, maybe it’s because photography really is just a hobby for me, but that avocation very much comes second to writing in every way. It has also never ground me down in the same way writing has.

Sure, from time to time I look at a few of my pictures and think, “What the hell happened with this?!” But then that reaction turns into a shrug and recognition that I’ll keep shooting pictures anyway. I can only get better, right?

So why do I struggle to do that with writing?

I have my issues in life, God knows, but there really is nothing so up and down for me as writing. Nothing else that leaves me so often questioning my basic assumptions about myself. Nothing else that can – and does – grind me down in the same way, and make me wonder if “You want fries with that?” is such a bad career move, after all…

We all have them: those days and times when you just can’t muster the energy – or the drive – to craft the words. When that little demon at the back of your mind whispers, “This isn’t for you. You’re not smart enough, not experienced enough, not ready.”

Not, when you get right down to it, good enough.

That demon doesn’t yell and screech. No sir, not for me. But his quiet little voice never goes away. He just whispers and whispers, and sometimes – more often than I’d like to admit – those whispers get through.

I’ve done my time working in offices. I wore the clothes and lived the life of a successful sales & marketing guy. When that little demon gets through, and when the grinding of reality starts to hurt, that’s when I start thinking about putting on again those clothes.

But…

But then those times come when it all clicks. When you craft a scene that, no matter what that little demon whispers, you know just plain worked. For me, those are the times that remind me that being a writer is less what I do and more who I am.

I wear the clothes of a writer now. Every time nowadays that I try to put on those old, professional clothes, it turns me into a dancing bear: a freak and a fool pretending to be something he is not.

I’ve been that guy that parties and has a good time. I’ve also been successful and serious. I’ve seen and done things a lot of folks can, honestly, only dream of. And in the end, nothing I’ve ever done or seen or been can come close to that feeling when a scene just works. That time when the payoff makes all the pain and doubt and despair worth it.

Music and writing go hand in hand for me, so I’ll close with a line from the song that got me thinking about this:

“But the clothes I wore / just don’t fit my soul anymore” – The Gaslight Anthem, “Orphans”

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