First, a couple of announcements – the winner of last week’s Imaginary Jesus contest is Andy McCollough. Congratulations Andy! Just let me know where you would like your copy of Imaginary Jesus sent (em me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Secondly, Tuesday’s are normally reserved for Tuesday’s Top Ten, but we’re switching things up a little this week. I’m going to continue with the story I started yesterday, and Bryan Allain is going to take over the Top Ten as a guest post on Friday. Rumor has it, he is doing a Top 10 Reasons TV is Good (or some impossible rubbish along those lines) – as some of you know, my wife and I have given up TV for the year, so I find this particularly vexing (but not as vexing as his constant bashing of Sweet Tarts).
Anyway, thanks for reading. On with the story.
“Hey, how’s it going?” the guy in the suit asked. The guy with too much cologne on. The guy that looked like a lawyer from the early 1900s.
“Pretty good,” I said, pushing my headphone earbuds in tighter, turning up the music. He didn’t get the hint.
“What are you doing?”
“Yeah, I hear you think you can make a living doing that?” he said, not in a mocking voice, but more the voice of a concerned, responsible counselor.
“I’ve got a couple deals lined up,” I said, shrugging. “Should get us started, anyway.”
“Huh,” he said, but I could tell his wheels were turning.
“What do you mean, ‘huh’?”
“Do you really? A couple of deals?”
“Well, there’s one,” I said defensively.
“Well, kind of. Almost for sure. I’ll find out soon.”
“But what if that one doesn’t come through?”
“Are you sure this is responsible?” he asked. “Doesn’t your family deserve more than this? I mean, you can always write on the side, right?”
I didn’t know what to say, but decided to continue with my mumbling defense.
“It’ll work out,” I said. “We’ve got a few months of income left. I’ll find more work before then.”
He raised his eyebrows. I stared hard at my computer. I couldn’t write with this guy over there, chattering like a cricket.
“Can you just shut up so I can concentrate? You’re driving me crazy!”
I looked up. It was the waitress. The guy in the suit was gone.
“Sorry,” I said. “I’m okay. I mean, I don’t need anything.”
She looked a little worried, as if I might stand up on one of the tables and start reciting Greek epics. Or stick a fork in my own eye.
But even though that guy had left, I could still feel him there, peering over my shoulder. Suddenly the whole idea that I could live my life doing something fun and exciting and meaningful felt stupid, and naive, and irresponsible. I started walking around like a foreign spy, my neck shortened, my eyes darting from side to side. When we first moved to Pennsylvania I was happy to tell people what I was doing. Trying to make a living by writing. But the more time passed, the more this guy in the suit convinced me it was selfish, and unattainable.
I changed the way I interacted with people:
“Hey, Shawn,” they’d say, “welcome back to Lancaster!” And at some point in the conversation: “So what are you up to?”
And instead of just saying, “I’m writing,” I’d say, “Oh, I’m writing for now, just for a few months, to see how it goes, you know, and if it doesn’t work out then I’ll look for something else.”
I started preparing myself for failure. And soon, even though a few writing projects did come in, I started looking for a full time job. I was losing faith.
To read the next post in this story, click HERE
To see the VERY beginning of this story, click HERE