Let's not be strangers

Hi there. JJ here. I'm no longer updating this blog, but I'm starting fresh over at http://jjkeith.net/blog/ and you can subscribe to the new feed at http://feeds.feedburner.com/JJKeith. I also update on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, including copious kid pics.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This Never Happened But That Doesn't Make It Any Less True


"Oh, hey! I didn't expect to see you here. How's it going?"

"Awesome. Glad to hear it."

"Yeah, the kids are in preschool today. Isn't that amazing? I have an entire day to myself. Porn and weed all day long, amirite?"

"Sorry. Just joking. That was weird." 

"Yeah, I actually did set out to write something today. I had no idea what, but I hoped it would come to me. And then I heard that this lady who goes to spin classes at my gym got certified to be a spin instructor and was teaching a class this morning. I had to go and show my support, right? And then I remembered that I had nothing set for dinner and I spent the last two hours searching the internet for 'kid-friendly light chicken recipes.'"

"I'm not procrastinating! I’m the lady who Christmas shops in July. If I wanted to write something, I’d write it."

"No, really. And I still might write today. It's just, well, what's the point, you know? Like say you publish an essay and it does really well. You get a bunch of blog hits. Several people weigh in on the degree to which you are or are not an asshole and then what? You just go back to being a mom not a penny richer nor any closer to getting an agent, a book deal, or a teaching post."

"Well, am I obligated to have a good attitude all the time?"

"Okay, listen. Not a lot of people realize this but writing is a pay-to-play proposition for most people. It’s a wealthy dilettante's game and I am not a wealthy dilettante. I only have two skills: writing and not procrastinating."

"It's not bullshit! Google 'writing retreats' or 'writing workshop' and note the prices. You can easily drop $30K a year on being a writer. You pay for workshops and conferences where you meet editors. You pay for retreats with people who know how to get manuscripts to agents. You pay for seminars. You pay for copyediting and consultations. My graduate degree would have cost $60K if I hadn't gotten tuition remission for teaching. You pay for privilege of writing even if you're good. There are a lot of great writers out there who do what they have to do to pay for this shit. But, like, even if you get a book published, you're unlikely to make enough to live on or even make back the cost of childcare. Writing is an excellent career option for people who don't need to make money. There have even been especially rich people who bought their way on to bestseller lists."

"Oh, it's possible. They bought all the copies of their own books. You have to time it right and get them from the right stores or something. Those lists are just algorithms  That Cupful of Tea or whatever douche did it with the money that people gave him to build schools in Nepal or wherever. Jon Krakaur said so. And he's not the only one."

"Well, yeah. I’ve paid for stuff. I don’t think it’s wrong to do so. I've paid for workshops, some great ones. I haven't paid for anything in a while, but I've done a lot of copywriting work and I'm still just breaking even. Basically, writing is a very time consuming hobby."

"I'm not just being negative! I've been out of ideas lately and so I've looked into workshops. The ones I liked aren’t going on any more. I can muster, say, $400 for a weekend workshop or something, but it's a big deal. So I Google the teacher to see what they've written and more often than not, it's crap. Like, why would I pay these people to teach me what they know when I already know that what they know is shit? And then there are the retreats and colonies. They look great, but I don’t have $8000. I’m better off hauling myself out to the desert and getting a $49-a-night hotel room. The only problem is how do I find a place with a door wide enough to get a pallet of beer in?"

"Okay, yeah. The problem is feedback. It’s hard to come by. Or rather, good feedback is hard to come by. And then it’s like, well, who am I emulating? Whose career do I want? What’s the best that can happen to me as a writer. I mean, Cheryl Strayed, sure, but that kind of break is extraordinarily rare. She's a great writer, but better writers than her have died penniless. I mean, what's my endgame here?You know why I like copywriting? Because it fucking pays! Making money is incredibly satisfying. Also, helpful. There are so many midi skirts and clogs out there that should be mine."

"No, clogs and midi skirts are ALWAYS in. I’m not tryna get laid over here."

"I don’t expect you to tell me anything. I don’t know. I just worry that this is all for naught. That I’m just another bored housewife with an expensive hobby. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I need to adjust my self-image accordingly."

"Don’t look at me like that. I’m not being self-pitying. Just realistic. But hey, I gotta run. All that housewife porn isn’t going to watch itself."

"Sorry. That was awkward. I really just gotta pop this chicken in a marinade. Catch you later?"

"Right. Bye."

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