“I was driving in England down the Santa Ana freeway
Somebody’s screaming out ‘You’re going down the wrong way!'”
– The Swirling Eddies, Driving in England
I will be 42 years old in just under two months. In my 42 years of life, I have seem many things and done many things. I’ve held a handful of different job, gotten married, met our Lord Jesus, written and published short stories, written a NaNoWriMo novel, recorded over 500 new media shows, designed a dozen websites, writing thousands of lines of software code, gone to Disney Land, met a lot of great people, played thousands of hours of games, been crew on a submarine, and much more. Yet my one real dream eluded me, being a professional full-time writer (or at least trying to be).
Oh, sure, I’ve had other dreams. Some my own. Some accepted from/forced on me by others. When I was a child I dreamed of being Superman, but that never panned out. (It is good that my “being Superman” dream never panned out, I figure all things consider, if I had super powers I would end up becoming a villain and taking over the world. This would be done for the good of the world of course, but it would end badly for everyone involved. But I digress.) Later I dreamed of being a fire fighter, which I was in the Navy to some degree or another. Then, after discovering I have an aptitude for Computer Programming I dreamed of being a programmer, which I achieved and found out wasn’t nearly as cool as I though it would be. And so on.
I also dream of bringing about the Zombie Apocalypse and will someday and that will show all you bastards who tried to crush my dreams. All you who said in was irresponsible to experiment on human test subject. I’ll show you all. I will be safe in a bunker with food and water and guns and a large DVD collection; and you’ll be getting your brains eaten by my zombie minions. It will be my finally revenge on the world. Muhahahaha. (Wait, did I actually type that?)
But the one dream that was mine and truly mine, was to tell stories, to write fiction (and well non-fiction). And that dream has eluded me in a meaningful way for many years. It all started in the summer of my Sophomore year of high school. I spend a month, maybe two, of my summer, writing a novella length manuscript called “Brimstone”. It was about a female spy named Randy Brimstone. She was pitted against a villainous organization that wanted to cut off the worlds oil supply. And, in the end, she succeed in defeating their plan. In retropect, it wasn’t very good, although, it was a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end. And it caught the attention of one of my English instructors in High School, Mr Brown (an English teacher at Bonanza High School in Las Vegas NV between 1982 and 1986), because, as they put it, showed raw talent. (Which came as an even bigger surprised to many of my teachers because I never did all that well in English classes.) And Mr Brown, one of my two favorite teachers of all time encouraged me to pursue writing (in one form or another) in college and beyond. My parents on the other hand, being far more practical in there view of life, said my efforts were crap and that I would never make it in life if I pursued writing. And since I respected my mother and feared my father more than I trusted Mr Brown, I went on to pursue electronic and computers rather than story telling and writing.
Well, a lot has gone on since then. I have come to terms with my relationship with my father. (He passed away over 10 years ago.) I have fought through some of my other baggage from the past concerning: writing, careers, dreams, desires, etc. (The fact that I reached a place where I could do that is all due to Christ Jesus, and his work in my life.) And now I am embarking on a journey into the world of the professional writer, which I am finding is a hard road to follow for a number of reason.
Now you maybe wondering why I titled this post “going against the grain”. The title comes from the reality of my new situation. In America, in terms of work, status quo is to find a “career” you like (like might be to strong a word) and then work at that “career” until you can retire or die. Don’t stand out to much. Don’t try to do things on your own, like start a business or write a book or invent the better mouse trap. Just go with the flow and you will have an average, easy life. Doing otherwise makes you different, sometimes admired, often envied, but in the end different. And the world is not a a big fan of those who are different. The world wants to put us all in a “box” that defines who we are and what we do so we can be bought and sold like a commodity. And the world gets very unhappy with those who try to escape the “box” they are in even if it is just to get into a different “box”. The world also gets really upset if your “box” is not of a standard size or shape.
Creative types like myself don’t fit well into the standard “boxes” of the world. We tend to have a grand variety of skills not a skill set focused in a relatively small area like most people. And we tend to want more out of life than the “box” has to offer. That is not to say that creative types don’t get “boxed”, but their “boxes” are always funny shapes and sizes and have rips and tears in them where things poke out; and they usually get shunted off into the manual sorting area. So we often end up “going against the grain”. I would say that is also true of entrepreneurial types as well, but there is so much crossover between creative and entrepreneurial types it is hard to say one is not the other.
Going against the grain is not necessary a bad thing. In fact, I would say that more people should. The corporate “people are just another commodity to trade” philosophy needs to get challenged as often as possible. (Not that I am against capitalism, I am just just against people’s worth being measured by nothing more than what contribute to the world in an economic sense. Which to be honest, Communism and Socialism are more incline to do than capitalism. Humans have value by virtue of of being human and having been created in the image of God whether they choose to accept that fact or not.)
So where am I going with this. Well that is a good question. I am basically, in a long winded, meandering kind of way, saying that I have decided to go against the grain and try to make it as a full-time professional writer. Now I am sure that what illusions I have about the a writing career with be smashed along the way. And that it will be a lot of hard work. But it is the road I am now traveling, although more slowly than I would like.
Don’t worry I have a plan. It not like I’m rushing out to quit my day job, but this new direction has forced me to change a lot of things in my life. I am forcing myself to become a morning person. I find that I am more productive at writing and more creative in the mornings. And I have instituted a new fitness regiment which is also a morning activity. (I think getting my writing “muscles” into shape is harder that getting my actual muscles into shape.) I have cut back on podcasting. So far there I has been some fruit, this blog in particular and a project that should debut in late May of 2010. So something must be working.
In the end, if it all blows up in my face, well, I can say I tried, and I certainly am enjoying the journey. So what are your dreams? Why are you following them? Maybe it is time for you to go “Driving in England”.