Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How to Stay Alive...And Not

When I first started my blog, it represented a commitment to myself to be more creative. The problem is that my life is ... sucking the life out of me.

I am so tired and worn out lately that there's just nothing funny in the tank.

I have outlined several ideas and sometimes think of funny things, but when I get to it, I'm so spent that ... it's just not funny at all. I'm afraid to work on my great stories because they'll come out dry as a desert.

It's just life sometimes.

I work in writing for a living. Nothing fun or creative. I write for information technology or "IT" if you are in the biz. "IT" technically stands for "information technology," but more often than not it really means "idiot train." So, I write for the idiot train and I am desperately trying not to let it suck all the words out of me.

I went to write for the idiot train years ago precisely because it wasn't creative. Actually, technically, I boarded the idiot train because
  1. People kept telling me I was a good writer. In fact, I remember reading all the recommendation letters from college and they all said "great writing skills" or "good writer," which mystified me ... and still does.
  2. I desperately wanted out of the secretarial pool. If ever there was a person who shouldn't be answering phones and fighting with the copier, it's me.
  3. A test told me to. 
As unbelievable as it sounds, a test told me to be a technical writer. In my mid-20s, in a new city, barely paying my bills, and wondering just what the heck I was ever going to do with a Philosophy degree, I signed up for a class about what to do with the rest of your life. 

For the life of me, I cannot remember the name of the course or where I found out about it, but I remember that it was in this old building at Queens College. Six weeks of personality tests, skills tests, aptitude test, and a bunch of other crap that I can't remember, and BAM! career options. 

At the end, the proctor handed us a sheet with the top three careers that matched all our test scores. Mine were:
  1. Translator
  2. Technical Writer
  3. Model
Now, #3 kind of told me how much time and money I had just wasted in that stupid course because, last time I checked, it's not personality that makes someone a model. Somehow the whole Inner Beauty magazine concept never took off. Imagine that. Truth be told, the the fact that "model" is even in the mix of possible careers makes the whole enterprise null and void, but what the hell else was I gonna do? That money and time was spent and I didn't have any other options at the time. 

As for #1, French was my best subject in school, but that had long since faded from memory. So #2 it was. Only. What the hell was it?!

When I discovered that technical writing was writing instructions for technology, I thought it was the best shot I had at anything. All those "good writer" comments flashed before my eyes and I thought tech writing and me might just be a good match after all. 

Also, and here's where it gets ironic ... at least I hope here's where it gets ironic. Ever since the 90s, I'm never sure what's ironic or not. Now, THAT'S ironic ... I think. But, as I said, I have no idea.

In any case, the possibly ironic part is that I have never considered myself a good writer, not creatively anyway. I don't have fictional characters speaking to me and I have no dreams about writing the great American novel. I don't even like great American novels that much. I ran from English class in favor or Philosophy because...well, that is a whole other blog. 

The point is, I have never been a writer in that arty, "I just need time to let my art flow and write" sense. Ironically(?), I've always been surrounded by writers who are always talking about their writing projects -  short stories, plays, books, screenplays - but never me. 

I've been to writing groups or, should I say, I've been dragged to writing groups by the aforementioned writers in my life and ... just wondered what the hell I was doing there. I felt like such a fraud because we were all supposed to be connecting through writing and I ... had ... no writing. And, even more importantly, no impulse to write. Nothing to say that I thought anyone wanted to hear.

Back to the test results, all those "good writing" comments were still spinning around my head like a Cuisinart someone left on low when along came the test results and technical writing with them. It seemed like a great way to use a skill I apparently had but without the pressure of being creative, which, as I said, I have never been. Also, I might not be creative but I had to stop doing time answering phones. 
"Hello, this is XYZ company, Jessica speaking. Kill me now, please."
So, it's been a lot of years and a lot of writing since (note that my last post was about a writing injury) and it's mostly been good. The idiot train is as idiotic as ever and not slowing down any time soon, but I think it was a good choice overall. 

So along comes this blog. My first shot at being creative, only my day job - the one I though would be perfect because I could write without the pressure of being creative - is stealing all my words! I show up to blog - more often than there are blogs to show for it - and I just don't have much in the tank. 

Is this ironic? It seem like something Alanis Morisette could sing. Why not? Her lyrics never rhyme anyway... or do they? I can never tell. 

Speaking of a musician, there is a really good reason that creative people often work as waiters and ... other basic labor while trying to "make it." Those jobs take your time but not your mind and that's really important when being creative, I have just discovered. 

What a pickle I've gotten myself into, huh?

I'll keep keeping the faith and trying to write funny things. For now, you'll have to just settle for honest because the funny is currently out of stock and on order. Hopefully, the factory will call soon.

I'll keep writing ... 

but probably not ironically.