Wednesday, March 27, 2013
In Which I Develop a Mission Statement
I get scared sometimes.
I'm old. Not incredibly, I'm aware. 36 is not "old" old. I'm barely grazing middle age. I sure as hell don't look like I'm less than half a decade from 40. I've even kept my hair, until irony decides it wants a good laugh. So yeah, I'm by no means ready for the glue factory just yet.
But when you want to do something in entertainment, anything past thirty is a methuselah. Anything past forty is impossible. It's the sensibility that once the rounded edges in your features have sharpened up, once you settle down and find yourself looking forward to sleep as much as you would sex, once you give a damn about things like retirement and savings accounts . . . once you get there, you have no place near stage and screen.
Yeah, I know about Alan Rickman. There are always exceptions. But people seem to emphasize his age above the fact that he's Alan fucking Rickman.
It's how the game is played. It's a reality I not only came to accept but to internalize and guide me.
When I was younger, I wrote. In high school, I had access to a computer in my home for the first time; via WordPerfect 5.1, the results were a pile of juvenile but earnest novels. While most of them have been lost to time (thank god the floppy went obsolete), one or two survived. They were a little purple on the prose, but for someone that age, not all that bad. College saw me an English major; my creative writing class was a solid 4.0.
But as I tried to put together a life I developed a really bad addiction to "eating" and "sleeping indoors," both of which I still suffer from to this day. For over ten years, I spent my life following a different track: tech work. It was the sensible thing to do. It was easy for me, and it was the track to a good life. Writing was put aside and slowly ignored as I worked harder and harder to find a career.
That career never came. Tech work in the south is rather merciless. It's a series of contract jobs, or hourly wage jobs, or not-quite-forty-hours-a-week jobs. People are replaced easily and often, and clawing your way up to something better means unseating the senior techs above you somehow. It slowly became less and less practical.
In doing videos on the internet and in having a small but enthusiastic audience, I've put myself in a position to do something completely the opposite of sensible: pursue writing for a living. If I'm going to be clawing and scraping and living hand-to-mouth, I might as well get some damn enjoyment out of it.
That's not to say I entirely know what in the hell I'm doing. It's a hard thing to break into, writing. We're in a digital age, and everybody with a keyboard, a blog and AdSense is a writer now. Every single one of you reading is my competition. The only question is, how serious are you about it?
How serious am I? I'm in my mid-late 30's. I'm the demographic that advertisers start ignoring. In terms of media, I'm well past my prime. I am not to writing what Rickman is to the screen. Fuck, I'm barely a downmarket Bubba the Love Sponge, truth be told. So this? This is scary shit. The odds aren't just not in my favor, they've got a grudge and a baseball bat.
So what am I doing about it? I'm not just leaping off the bridge this second. At the moment, I'm trying any and all job opportunities presented to me. Paying the bills is first priority, but also saving money and building up a war chest so that when I decide to flat out take the plunge I'll be able to keep up with that pesky eating thing. It's not gonna be forever, though. In three years, I intend to be paying the bills by writing for a living. From there, we'll see.
But the first step is the writing. There has to be a little every day, just to keep the work coming, keep the ability sound. Mine's been neglected a great deal lately; time to change that.