Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Writer's Toughest Post Ever: About Responsibilities, Maturity and Living

This is an incredibly hard post to write, and I'm putting it here, because this is where I can speak my mind, and not on Facebook where my family can read it, and not on Twitter because I'm already over 140 characters. I'm going to speak honestly, and my intention is not to point fingers at people, upset people or be a bother. This is just something difficult I have to say.

Looking at my finances, looking at what I want to do, looking ahead, I think I am reaching a crossroads where I either have to discover a new niche and a miracle, or accept the fact that I'm going to need a day job or quit editing and game design altogether and find other work.

There's no part of that sentence that doesn't fill me with shame, guilt and embarrassment.

Now, I know most of the people reading this have day jobs, so they may be saying, "So what?" but to me, it's so much bigger than "So what?" To me, the taking of a job that isn't editing games or novels feels like some measure of defeat, that my great hope to only do this has proved false, and that somehow this is a karmic rebound for all those times I scoffed at people and their jobs. Maybe it is.

Here's the link to my GoFundMe. The numbers look so large and scary and astronomical as I write this, but that's my fear, my illness and my pessimism talking. But if we're being totally honest, this isn't only about flights and hotels and meals. This is my life, and just as I did last year, I'm asking for help, even though this is a different context.

I don't have the first idea if how people actually do this thing we call "mature healthy living". I have been sick so long that I always had people looking out for me, which proved helpful at the time, but now stands as a detriment because I struggle to learn the "best" ways to manage money, time, expectations and responsibilities.

I've been making a big push for work, because after May 23rd, my calendar isn't just Swiss cheese with projects, it's barren until I get to conventions, but conventions aren't for-pay experiences. So what I'm saying is, I'm down to my last dollars and I have a summer of not-working ahead. I want to work, I want to work so badly, I want to be busy helping people do what they want to do. I don't want to give up, I don't want to stop doing this, but it's frustrating, it's scary.

Take for a moment the times I have tried to organize "Pay What You Want Workshops". On paper, the idea is amazing. But logistically a nightmare. The best software to manage a webinar or workshop is seriously expensive, and drawing only two people after technical failures and a lot of cancellations is both a blow to my pride and my wallet. I try to schedule something, and rather than get commitments, I get "That night doesn't work for me" I have tried them in person, and even with a $10-a-seat pricetag, I can just about afford the gas it would cost me to travel to and from a location. What does someone do when they have a great idea, but it can't seem to get off the ground? Does that make the idea less good?

What I can do is generate a burst of buzz. I say something about anxiety or depression or mistreatment of people, and lots of people check it out. Which is good, and I appreciate and love that. But I talk about work, and sometimes it's crickets or a few people, then silence.

I get it, editing is expensive and maybe misunderstood or undervalued, and I'm not Ryan or Amanda or Jess. I haven't been doing this very long. But dammit, I'm good at this. If this is all about the fact that neither you, possible client, nor I, possible editor, have money then I'm going to feel extra stupid for writing this.

And I know people tell me all the time, "You'll get paid from my Kickstarter", and that's great, I look forward to that, but then when I ask you "When's the Kickstarter?" there's sort of a pause, then an answer that seems more "later" or "um" than a firm date.

I have done a lot of free work, handshake deals and I'll-pay-later arrangements, and while that's been a great source of pride for me (work very much is), I cannot begin to describe to you the gut-chewing feeling that I experience as I work on what could be some of the best things I've ever done, knowing that I'm basically going to get a "Thank you" for it. I can't trade "Thank you" for pills, therapy, gas or a working Internet connection.

This leads me to think that maybe I'm too expensive, that I could lower my rates, offer coupon deals or something. Maybe there's something I'm not seeing that keeps the money out of my wallet. If you have suggestions, please please tell me.

I made the decision not to talk about my personal social life on the blog since treatment, and for the most part I really haven't. I'm going to do my best to continue that, but this is the personal section of the message.

My relationship makes me happy. Happier than how work makes me feel, and if you know me, work makes me pretty damned happy. And some of you have been lucky enough to see it directly, it's a good thing. It's a great thing. It is an unbelievable source of strength for me.

That relationship is about to get a wrench in the works. A 355-mile sized wrench. And before I also chalk this up on the tally board of "Things John Needs Support and Help On", there is a financial aspect here too, because I am determined to get down there and be happy once or twice a month. And that's not cheap, either in transit (train) or car (gas, tolls). If there's anything I'm not giving up, it's that relationship. Even if I have to walk or hitch or mail myself to her, I'm getting down there.

So what am I writing for? For support. For encouragement. For work. For help. For strength. Last year was so amazing, and while we all joked "Oh John, the bar is set pretty high for you.", the bar was set really ridiculously high, and now I'm looking at a bar that seems miles above me and I've got no momentum to jump it.

Please help me. I write this with tears in my eyes, because I struggle so mightily with the ideas that money is tight for everyone, and I'm just one guy who wants to be able to see his girlfriend, travel the country and get better at what he does, and afford the therapy and pills that keep him alive.

To those who donate, I cannot thank you enough. I cannot begin to describe the depth of my gratitude and how humbled I am by your kindness. Here's the link again.

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