Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mid-Life Crisis Brewing?

I'm in a space right now where I'm REALLY enjoying my writing. I remember in school I'd hear things like, "Most novelists don't really hit their stride until middle age," and as someone in my twenties I found that quite discouraging. But now that I'm coming onto 40 this year and feeling things finally start to click together, I see what they were talking about. Of course, I may turn out to be the ONLY one who thinks things are clicking, but it's still a nice feeling even if no one else agrees!

As a matter of fact, I'm feeling this sense that once I get all my current writing projects wrapped up, if none of them flies in any significant way, I may be done. I don't think I'm going to get any better than I am right now, judging by the work I've been doing this past year. I've been having a funny thought: if my writing career doesn't get off the ground with a significant success this next year or two, I am going to hook up cable TV. For many years, I've been denying myself any TV and using most of my evenings to write, but I'm now to the point where if it's not going to pay off, I'm going to start relaxing more in the evenings and watch some damn TV. That is a funny thing to say, because I've been anti-TV for so many years, but that's where my mind is starting to go.

Anyway, I feel a mid-life crisis brewing, career-wise. I've held corporate jobs for the past 16 years, but I've never taken hold in the corporate setting, and I feel like I've just been treading water while I work on my own creative projects on the side. But I'm getting quite tired of this mode, and I'm watching other people my age really come into their own with higher-paying management positions or their own successful businesses or whatever. And if my writing doesn't work out, then I've missed that boat and will need to find another boat, perhaps in some entirely different field than writing. Every single day, it seems, I ponder other possible professions, from becoming a real estate or insurance agent to opening an eBay drop-off store to going to law school. So far, nothing sounds good, but I'm not sure I can do 30 more years of what I'm now doing as a low-level corporate writer/editor, and I don't see myself climbing the corporate ladder.

So two years from now, I expect either to be self-employed as an author or attending real estate school by day and watching HBO by night...

4 comments:

Bored Dominatrix said...

At 40, I pretty much did exactly what you're suggesting: realized I hadn't hit the big time, and started watching a lot of cable TV. It was great--I caught up on some fabulous shows. And then I realized I really liked writing and wasn't ready to give up entirely, so I started writing again. Now I'm 42 and writing a lot, envisioning all kinds of projects, and figuring I have until 50 to make my mark in some significant way.

jana said...

hmmm....a few years ago I realized that 40 was looming. I decided that I could either be 40 with a PhD or 40 without one. I opted for the "with the PhD" option and I'm well on my way now (tho, of course, I should be doing PhD stuff instead of writing on blogs today).

I think climbing the corporate ladder is highly overrated. I like living in a small student apartment and enjoy the rather bohemian squalor that accompanies such a lifestyle.

As for becoming a full-time writer, well, I've decided that's a pipe dream unless you're willing to write self-help books, create maudlin fiction like the Xmas Box guy, or write formulaic romance novels.

Christopher Bigelow said...

Yeah, maybe I just need to take a year or two off from writing and then see where I stand. Maybe if I can publish a novel, I'll feel better about treading water in a corporate job while my real career is in creative writing, even if that doesn't pay many bills.

Part of me would rather live a more bohemian lifestyle too, but my wife loves our suburban house, yard, and lifestyle, and I have to admit it seems to be good for the kids too. But I loathe home and yard care and having to pay for this lifestyle. My ideal would be to live in a small urban apartment in Boston or New York and be immersed in city life each day...

Abel said...

If you want to be a full-time writer, write what people want to read not what you want to write. Unlike what Jana said, this doens't mean you have to write self-hlep books or maudlin fiction. Yes, those books sell well, but their message speakes to people. Figure out what people want to read and write it BETTER. The $$$ will follow.