A Writer’s Block

October 9, 2015

I’m having a bit of a shit-or-get-off-the-pot moment as the result of something that happened today.

Of all things, I sort of had a job interview this afternoon. Which is weird because I’m not looking for a job. But I learned, through a friend, of a small company in town that provides editing, proofing and language translation services. I expressed genuine interest in the work they do, and presto, she arranged for me to visit.

That visit was today.

I was truly impressed. I liked the vibe of the place so much, I was ready to move right in. All women, smart women.  It was both modern/professional/progressive/kick-ass AND homey/comfy/arty/cool. It’s been around for a couple of decades. The work suits me perfectly. Tedious, detailed, fussy, requires laser focus and attention to detail. Helps if you’re on the obsessive-compulsive spectrum. You know, which I am.

After a couple hours of meeting people, looking around, and learning about their work, I was given a document in tagalog and asked to proofread it. I don’t speak tagalog, nobody there does, but proofing it had to do with making sure the translated document matched the original english version: fonts, numbers, bullets, spaces, caps, bolds, itals, size, color, margins, layout, consistency, punctuation… stuff like that. Heaven.

I want to work there in the worst way. (As I said, being on the OCD spectrum helps.)

And yet…I don’t really want a job that consumes valuable hours in my very flexible days. For one, I have a kiddo who’s in his last year of high school… which means two things: it’s our last year to have him at home AND he’s a senior which means final year of baseball, applications for college, graduation stuff… and I want to be fully present for all of that.

For most of the last seven years since closing the doors on KAP Media, my time’s been pretty free form, and filled with the priorities of a non-working person. I’ve adjusted quite comfortably to being a free agent–able to do all kinds of things with all kinds of people, or by myself, or whatever I’ve wanted, whenever I’ve wanted.

So there’s that.

And I don’t need a job.

Plus I’m coming up on 60. Who starts punching a clock at 60?

But there’s an even bigger reason, and this is the shitting in the pot moment: I keep thinking I want to write. Maybe that’s a book, maybe it’s short stories, maybe it’s fiction, maybe it’s writing somebody else’s story, maybe it’s something else entirely, I just don’t know. If I take a job proofreading, I may never get to my writing. If I think I want to write, I may have to actually invest in that process, whatever that means…. join a writers group; attend a writers workshop; actually draft something, re-work it, re-work it again, submit it somewhere… start down that road.

I don’t know. But it may be shit or get off the pot time. Anything else is just a delay, a distraction.

Since leaving DCTV ten years ago, I’ve served as an associate editor on a national journal; have written and edited countless articles–both for that journal, as well as our local newspaper; I’ve edited/proofed two fiction novels, three non-fiction books, numerous short stories, a few websites; I’ve written a daily blog for years, and have written several travel blogs.

I’ve enjoyed all that. And…. I just wonder if I have real writing in me.

Is this job that? Or does this job preclude that? Is this job a distraction from that? (Mind you, I haven’t been offered a job yet! I only talked with them today–for 2 1/2 hours, but it was only talk.)

I find the prospect of real writing daunting…

First, the logistics of being a successful writer? Most of it is completely impossible–publishing, finding agents, marketing. I think it’s easier to make it into Major League Baseball or win an Oscar. Those dreams are right up there with writing the great american novel.

Secondly, I have not a clue what I’d write about. I’m actually not a very imaginative person. I don’t have a story burning a hole through my soul. So… what’s writing about for me? I really don’t know. I might guess a person should write if they are driven by an idea, or inspired by a story, or something. It may not be enough to think you have a talent for the written word, or to enjoy the process of writing… if you don’t really have anything to say. It seems sort of cart before the horse. Or heading down a path without a destination.

Maybe I’m just scared.

Or… maybe I get my jollies with technical writing. This company does provide technical writing services to its clients … maybe I could move into that realm.

Or maybe it’s enough to do exactly what I’m doing: edit other people’s stuff, do the occasional article, continue blogging as the spirit moves, maybe dabble in something fictional if anything were to ever bubble up… AND take a job proofreading for pay. That’s actually a lot of writing, don’t you think? Easy peasy. Cruise control. Done.

It’s just not, you know… the other writing. Real writing.

Sooooo, time for a pro-con analysis.. a decision tree.. some venn diagrams… a few sleepless nights…

Here’s a picture I took the other day, crossing Fifth Street by our house. It says: path, opportunity, the unknown.. a lovelier metaphor than shit/pot.