Reality. Boy, this is a hard one. I don’t know if I want to talk about it right now. Mostly, I’m trying to deal with the pain in my knees. I don’t know if biking exacerbated it, it surely feels that way. It’s disappointing because I want to bike to work. It beats driving to the university and trying to park; it’s stressful and it’s expensive. Plus, it ends up taking a lot of time. Reality is: I need to stop writing and grade papers. I need to work on a lesson plan for tomorrow. I need to, I need to….

This (writing) is not reality. This is something else (playing, fooling around, procrastinating comes to mind). Society, my mother, that voice that tells me I’m not being practical–that’s what I’m hearing. I’m wasting time by writing. Reality, for me lately, has been all about finding a better job: a real job—with benefits. A career. The kind of job that a woman my age should have. That a person with my advanced degree should have. It’s not that I don’t like teaching. I’ve been an adjunct for a few years, but there doesn’t seem to be a way out. It’s part-time (even though I teach four classes) and it’s temporary (I have to renew a contract each semester) and it doesn’t offer benefits. So, reality is biting me in the arse. I’ve been looking for other work, but the reality of it is, we are in an economic crisis, jobs are scarce, and I don’t have a very good employment background because I wasted all those years living a “unconventional” lifestyle. (Dropping out is easy; it’s dropping “in” that’s hard.)

There you have it: reality bites.

Anyhow, I can’t escape it, so I am attempting to face it. This is going to be the hardest part to write about: facing 50 with limited options. This I know many of you can relate to. How do we deal with this? I’m writing about it. I know I need to work on my job hunting skills, my interviewing skills (I want to slit my wrists just thinking about this). Not so inspiring as the running bit, is it? Well, that’s reality for you. But (to put a positive spin on it and try to yank my mood back from the depths) if I can start running at 48 and finish three 5Ks in five months time and run for 40 minutes straight (which I did do two or three times) then maybe something I don’t see happening will occur.

I don’t know what’s around the bend. Maybe, just maybe, I can do something I never thought I could do in the employment arena. I’ve heard that I’m good at organizing, at seeing the big picture, at paying attention to detail, I’m creative, I’m a good communicator…hey! I could be a writer! All right, I’ll behave. That was a little sarcastic, I admit. Well, I’m working at that job, waiting to get paid, and trying to be open-minded about the job market. What can I do that I’ve never thought of before? (This one takes everything I’ve got.) I’d rather run uphill for thirty minutes straight, on trash day, during rush hour.  This is turning out to be an exercise in motivation. I’m learning to motivate myself, in running, and I suppose I can apply it to this enterprise as well. Snapping teeth are great motivators!

I’ve been writing about running in my log, short little notations and then sometimes longer ones in my journal. I’m hoping that writing more on the topic, perhaps with this blog in mind, will get me out of this funk. This stuck place in my writing career. I finished a book last year and I’ve been in a lot of fear about publishing it. Suddenly, I had to put it out there, find a market for it, face reality about the limited audience I’d written for, find a way to market myself. I haven’t been able to write since.

Sure, I’ve done a few things. Started on a play, then changed my mind and started rewriting that as a screen play, then wrote a few poems because I was in love, then fiddled around with a short story I started years ago and have to admit sucks. Maybe it doesn’t suck, but it’s limited. I finally gave in and met with a grad school crony to talk about it (I’d resisted  “workshop” in any form after being bludgeoned over my dissertation) and she told me what I suspected. There was no plot. No story, really. Okay. What now? No ideas and almost a year has passed. I started a sequel to my urban magic realism (fancy way to say speculative, or fantasy) novel but that just fell dead in about three pages. I’m down to writing goofy little snippets in a notebook from a different kind of “speaker,” playing with narration, I suppose, and audience, and trying like mad not to second guess myself, and I don’t know if that’s successful or not. I’m afraid to look at any of them because they really might suck. But maybe, I keep thinking, the act of writing, the discipline of sitting down and putting pen to page, will keep my art alive, will keep the creative juices flowing, and some day one of these little “snippets” will turn into something. It’s possible. That happened with the book I just finished. It’s only been thirteen years in the making. But hey, a lot happened in those 13 years. I also wrote three plays, directed, performed, went to grad school, taught, wrote that other novel (the one that broke my heart) and here I am. Trusting the process.

I learned through The Artist’s Way to “show up at the page.”  So, that’s what I’m doing. Showing up at the page. A leap of faith, really, writing has been that for many years. It hasn’t been practical, it hasn’t made sense at times to keep going, but it is my passion. It is what I love, consistently. It is what makes me feel alive.

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