Monday, January 5, 2009

Making More

Because it is my best hope and most intense desire to write every day for the rest of my life, an absence of words for more than two consecutive days here may rightly be interpreted as a faltering or inability. Ironically it comes when there is simply too much to say and too much time to say it in. I am paralyzed by excess.

I am also in the grip of a serious evaluation of my motivation for writing and the role it currently plays in my life. As I sit here, I am ostensibly 'at work' but the experience, in terms of my stated desire is a waste of time. Every minute that I pretend to do something else can only be a minute that I cannot spend writing. Of course, it might be fair to say this about any time, but given that there are qualitative differences between time spent, say, at table versus at the desk, I can't escape the feeling that I should really be using this time--of my day as well as of my life--to write.

As ridiculous as it sounds for a man my age, I have been looking into retirement from this institution, but it isn't because I am weary of work in the conventional sense. If anything, as my life record of consistent employment shows, I actually thrive on work. I really do love my work at the restaurant because no matter how low I feel when I go in, I always feel better when I leave. It's more than a job; it's a life, and one that I love. But it doesn't pay all the bills, alas, nor does it really satisfy my desire for all the types of work I crave. I also need and seek out intellectual work, if you will like writing, because it is in many ways as satisfying as the physical work I so love at the restaurant.

On the other hand, this institutional job, though it be difficult to reconcile with my real desires, does pay most of the bills, and it does offer the tempting, though uncertain promise of 'retirement'. It is tempting because the deal, as it stands now, would give us a small fixed income in addition to 'lifetime' medical insurance. The uncertain part is actually embedded in both of the two premises that tempt me in the first place.

Why? Well, there is no guarantee that either the fixed income will actually be fixed or that the medical insurance will last a lifetime. In fact, as we have seen with many major corporations like GM, these kinds of deals are being changed as economic conditions dictate. What was a set income is either reduced by a half or two-thirds, and what was meant for a lifetime, is now defined as a 'shared responsibility'. So, if I take the deal they offer me in three years, there is really no way to guarantee it will last even decade, let alone the rest of my life. The Texas legislature meets every two years, so that gives them at least twenty opportunities between now and the time I'm dead to renege on their promises.

Ok, so it makes no sense to to count on the potentially mythical 'benefits', yet if I don't serve for at least another three years, I won't even get that chance. So I will wait, but something has to give. This brings me back to that serious evaluation of where writing fits in my life.

I am resolved this year to do more with my writing. If I could in some way couple this desire with my need to make money here at the institution, what a delight that would be! I have to open myslef to the possibility of writing for at least a part of my living, and there are certainly any number of opportunites which can arise from that openness. I have the common sense, however, to know that one of the best ways to dampen my newly kindled creative spirit would be to subject it to the pressures of making money from it.

In keeping with the advice, therefore, that I have given to every artist I've ever met who has expressed to me the difficulty of supporting themselves on their art, I tell myself this day: Don't worry about selling it. You can always make more.

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