My little experiment as an Examiner is almost over and can be filed in the “lessons learned in 2009” folder that I would make if I wasn’t so bad at filing things and/or learning lessons. After a little over a month and 17 articles written, I’m still waiting to be paid an amount I am embarrassed to admit I am even fighting for. I perhaps foolishly like to think of myself as a “professional writer” in the sense that earning money is the sole reason for deeming someone professional and not, you know, respect, fulfillment, artistic expression, a W-2, etc (Ellie joked that once people start hating on you in the comments section is when you’ve really “made it” but I believe there is truth to this. The most page views and comments I received was for an “article” (in essence a summary with one or two sentences of my own words) about gay rights legislation.)
Since the shitty economy took away my Centerstage column, I’ve been forced to take the writing equivalent of working the deep fryer at McDonald’s and now I’m questioning whether I should just stop completely, at least for a while. It’s not like I don’t have a REAL job, with retirement benefits and gun metal gray decor. The schedule is exhausting enough as it is, when one factors in longer nonprofit hours, getting up at 5:30am most days to do yoga so that the rest of the day is somewhat more bearable, trying to cook dinner every once in a while that doesn’t come from a cardboard box, etc. Sometimes I can’t muster the energy to watch a 42 minute episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer after all of the day-to-day mundanities are accounted for. But all of these things seem like poor excuses for not writing. It’s just that there must be a way to get paid without having to compromise one’s integrity THAT much. I’m fine with a little compromising. For instance, I’ll review an ice cream parlor for $15 knowing that I also have to $5 pay to sample the ice cream.
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending several workshops by Kino MacGregor, who continues to inspire and amaze me. One piece of advice she gave (and I realize this sounds SO yoga but whatever) is to go after what makes your heart open. Don’t waste your time on activities you think you should be aspiring towards because you can’t manufacture inspiration. It’s either there or it isn’t. And lately writing has felt more like a burden and less an inspiration. Which is perhaps the most depressing thing ever.
Here’s hoping this is a phase, like “being straight” or being strangely enamored by pear-shaped tomatoes. We shall see.