Angst of the Creative Adult

Unabridged title: “Angst of the Creative Adult Who Started the Journey Toward Publishing “Just Before Social Media” and is Feeling Left Behind.”

 

Dissatisfaction. What a feeling. How can a 38-year-old be angst ridden? Isn’t that something for teenagers and twenty-something’s? I’ve learned as I have lived through my thirties, (now closing out the last couple years of it) that this is BY FAR the hardest decade of my life. Why? Because in your thirties, all of the responsibilities of life are upon you. Yes, at least, you can get past all the social BS that goes with being in your twenties, all the relationship BS, etc. You know what you want and you know how to get it. You’re not afraid to go after what you want nor are you afraid to stay in a situation because you are putting yourself first. But that’s just it, now you HAVE to do these things. There are no more delays or “by the time I’m 40, I’ll have this or that accomplished” type of ideas. No one makes excuses for people in their 30s (nor should they).

Here’s the reality I feel. You ARE almost 40 and you HAVEN’T done all the things you said you would by now. Sure, as a kid, you can’t know how difficult life is to navigate and can be quite naïve about how the world works, but by the time you’re in your mid-thirties, you would hope that most of your money and relationship and especially your CAREER would be just where you wanted it – in a grand place only heading higher. I’m not talking about big business or rising the ranks, but becoming the person you always saw yourself as, or who you know you are capable of becoming.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, when you realize you haven’t put the commitment and discipline to your projects the way you could have. You realize how distracted you have let yourself became by life – by finding love, falling in love, falling out of love, and then finding love again, dealing with family issues, debt, etc. And before you turn around, seven years have gone by and your thirties are almost over. WTF happened? Why have I not already become a massively successful novelist or magazine publisher?

Why do I see all these 17-year-olds with huge contracts with marketing and development firms because they created a sensation on social media?

That’s all it takes these days. I’m a little bitter, but more, I’m pissed. Where were all these platforms in my teens and early 20s when I had all the inspiration and fire and passion burning in me (and all that damn extra time) to create? Moreover, why have I not JUMPED on them now that they are available? It’s not technology’s fault that it came late for me. But it still feels like I’ve been left behind.

My forum was to email and mail in submissions, buy books on what publishers wanted. Of course, I had the internet for research and forums and making connections, but we had like, Myspace. There weren’t apps yet when I was in college. Social media was just beginning (no FB just yet) and smart phones were just on the cusp. Companies and producers weren’t looking for people online. That wasn’t the culture. Creative people before 2007 had to still rely on working their way up, getting noticed by their work and dogged persistence in turning in submission after submission after pitch after pitch, not by their online platform.

I was heavily committed to buying all the publishing industry books on what publishers and editors and movie producers were looking for and I feverishly cranked things out, all while going to networking events, workshops, being in college clubs, going to school, etc. All that energy and drive had me going in many directions, always certain that I’d hit a big writing career along the way and by now, would be living in my mountain estate, cranking out novel after novel while managing my magazine. Ah, what a vision.

Now you can create a following on any one of the current social apps (so long as you take the time to post non-stop, constantly creating new content on a daily basis) and you may get recruited by some big company giving you an even bigger paycheck. Not saying that’s what I want, but I envy the opportunities available to those with plenty of time on their hands today – they can actually make a career out of a hobby.

Well hell, if I had all this shit when I was teenager and writing YA novels and short stories (all submitting via mail or email) – I know I could have created something bigger. I KNOW IT. I used to meet with friends and others and we wrote movies together. We would meet and develop ideas together. But we did not have an instant forum for them. We had to enter contests and wait to hear back. Submit manuscripts and email and wait and wait and finally get a rejection…and try again.

I may have had a chance to “get there” by my own devices a lot sooner simply because I had more time and less responsibility. Sure, an 18-year-old has time to create 6-second videos ALL DAY LONG and the energy and passion of creative youth is perfect for social media. But by the time you’re in your thirties – if you haven’t gotten “there” yet, you are slowing the pace just by simply dealing with L-I-F-E. Buying a home, a car, starting a family, etc.

But WHAAAA? Really? Yes, it sucks and life isn’t fair and yada, yada, yada. I know I’m whining but I’m merely venting. I don’t blame anyone or hate them for their success. The trick is to not compare and feel less-than simply because others accomplish things I’d like to accomplish. Instead, I can use it for fuel.

I refuse to sit back and stay bitter. Instead I can use the opportunities that are now available and use my passion to make it happen. Even if it takes me a little longer and requires further understanding, I can navigate in this new publishing world, too.

The passion is there, but the challenge is finding the will to do all the work in the wake of your…sigh…real job.

 

And yes, at least my real job is creative – I am editor of two magazines. They may not be national, but they are well liked in my community and it generates the feelings that I like to get from a job well done. But it’s NOT my ultimate destination.

I have found that working in a creative job, as a writer, especially, that is it is all the more difficult to create on your own time. But it CAN and HAS been done. It just takes even more will, more time, more desire to make yourself write for you, everyday, to get there one bit at a time.

 

It has been a very tough and busy year. I got the editor job last year (just when I was revving up this blog and my other creative projects), but this year, right in January, I had to say goodbye to my sweet, dear Golden Retriever. By far, that is the worst grief I have ever felt. It was so very acute. I mean, since I lost my father at 12-years-old, that is. But that grief is distant. My dog, my sweet Penny, was everything to me and so suddenly she was gone. I was distraught.

Yet at the same time, I was planning a wedding (a New Orleans jazz wedding with parade and all, no less) with the love of my life. Grief and Joy all at one.

In January a horrible thing happened, and in April, a wonderful and joyous thing happened. Talk about a roller coaster.

It has taken its toll and I have not been writing for myself. Not enough to post a blog. I haven’t posted a FREAKIN’ blog since Feb. Why? Because I just didn’t have the emotional energy to dip into the swelling wave that has been building.

So now I am blowing this up, stream of consciousness style, to get it OUT of my HEAD and onto the page.

Where have I been all year? What am I doing? A trajectory that was started two years ago has slowed steadily and I am in angst.

If I am so dissatisfied with the slowness of my progression with a blog and writing my next book, why am I not making the time to write? Why? Why do I do this to myself?

On some level, I must be afraid to follow through. Not because of failure, but because of success. Success in terms of seeing an idea come to fruition comes from the act of continually feeding that idea and growing it. In my mind’s eye, that’s what I want, but it takes a lot of work and discipline to get there.

The work I can do, the discipline is a challenge. Staying consistently committed to a schedule is my biggest weakness. But my tenacity of wanting something often can overpower my atrophied discipline muscle to power through almost anything.

Woe is me for not doing more with my time. Woe is me for spending too much time vegging out and disconnecting and escaping from everyday life.

The vodka shots won’t help. The smoke won’t help. Only doing what is in my heart will help and only fleshing out my ideas creatively will bring me true satisfaction.

I’m not so stuck on “making it” like I was in my youth. I have matured and I am happy with a lot of my life, but that dissatisfaction (deep down) of not doing all that I am capable of, of not following through on a creative idea I started, is what leads to my angst.

Why can’t I just be happy with where I am, professionally? Because I just can’t. I want more. I always have. And I know I can get it.

I just have to do it. I’ve accepted the reality that I am a late bloomer. That’s better than no bloom at all.

 

I see Them. I see You. I see Me. Woman Sees World.

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GeNeRatioNal ShifT

HEY! I’ve been reading a lot of articles about my generation – Generation X. Seems to be a lot of enthusiastically challenged or rant-y articles out there on the subject – why is GenX being left out, they’ve always been the latchkey kids, only Boomers and Millenials are mentioned. And now it’s time for 90s nostalgia!  OH, there’s where the GenX gets mentioned – our media boom of the 1990s, the style. Oh my god, when did that happen? 20 years ago I was a teenager watching Fresh Prince, OMG!

I mean sure, I can rant as a GenXer too at the unfairness of time and economic distress – Journalism degree in 2004, right at the cusp of still being able to get a lot of magazine work and launching a media career just before that couldn’t be done anymore, and now, it’s devalued to the point of many-a-editor-writer-photographer’s dismay. Pennies on the dollar for the same work just less than 10 years ago! We came up right at the cusp of the digital age, and now it’s trying to pass us by.

(Still ranting…about to lock it up!)

It’s as if the world went from Boomers to Millenials.  Hello, media and other pundits, you’re missing about 22 years of folks who were adolescents in the 80s, the first to adopt the Internet in the 90s, where the heyday of music videos and hip hop and the invention of reality TV (not necessarily the proudest thing) occurred, graduated college BEFORE the iPad and are JUST NOW in their mid-thirties – too young to be Boomers, too old to be Millenials. But after all, it’s a matter of demographics

Distraction!

Let’s not give advertising and media executives the power to turn us (Boomers, GenXers, Millenials) against each other, taking our frustrations out on each other via hateful, anonymous ranting or blameful opining. Whether it was the activists breaking rules in the name of equality in the 60s, the collective adventurousness of GenX entrepreneurs and artists in the 90s, or the digital-savvy, app creating Millenials in the 20-teens, we are all affected by the generations in which we are sandwiched. Instead of debating over who left the world worse for whom or why one is better than the other, let’s give each other credit for what we’ve ALL brought to the table.

Realize what’s really at play.

The biggest problem of all is G-R-E-E-D and that has been around in every generation, since before there was an America, and the powers that be are pretty much the same ones. Look at Manufacturing, Distribution (shipping industry), Banking, Oil, Transportation…shall I go on? The same families that started those industries still control them today.

Those of us ranting about generations are the ones playing out the drama. We are the players of a play (movie) that is being directed and produced by others. The super elite of this world are not affected by generational shifts. We are ALL fighting the same TIDE of money, greed, and corrupt, unchecked power that has been going on since the U.S. entered its second century. Unfortunately, the Great Experiment of the U.S.A. was poisoned in the Industrial Age, the moment we decided to centralize our banking system and create the Fed (1913). If you look up the history of our Revolution, we left England to avoid the inescapably exploitative and corrupting powers of private centralized banking.

We are ALL, every single generation (for the past 100 years), paying the interest our government takes from the big, FAT, private banks. We pay the interest with our taxes. For every $10 created, $11 has to be paid back. After 100 years of this made-legal ponzi scheme, we see, and deeply feel the consequences of that system (ouch!). For some reason (greed, apathy), the very right we fought for in our Revolution against the Bank of England – the ability to create our OWN money and credit – was completely reversed by American business and political leaders doing exactly to its citizens what the King did to the Colonies.

So…what’s my point? No big point, just experiencing life from my perspective.

We (more specifically, GenX women who graduated college in the early 2000s), came up in a time when you were supposed to have a career and a family. We werent aware JUST yet, but then proved, that there was NO SUCH THING as a woman “having it all” with regards to full time family and full time career. But we were going to try!  As we went through college, we were taught to utilize new tools, become computer dependent. The internet was by-far the biggest research revolution to hit colleges ever! Imagine having to go to the library for every, single paper you wrote? Thankfully, I didn’t have to. (They should’ve given grades AND cash in the pre-computer era for how much physicality went into learning and producing papers in college. We are spoiled.)

But then, in the span of just a few years – the world changed – and we had JUST been college educated and starting our careers – perhaps a few years in – when WHAM – we were already deficient in important skills – that had overnight just become important skills – and with an alarmingly faster rate – people began focusing more on the virtual than the tactile. Those of us in media, magazines, etc. had to act FAST and with great nimbleness, evolve our portfolios to include online work and be able to have an “e-version” of everything we published. During all this we saw our prospects – potential work at magazines and national freelance, which were VERY robust up to the early 2000s – evaporate in a matter of four years.  Really.  By 2008 EVERYTHING was different.

Talk about a generational shift/wake-up call. I mean, I graduated college and went into magazines just when editors, writers, photographers and graphic designers were starting to be downsized and reduced – all while the sales forces were being increased 100-fold. Sure we saw SOME of it coming. Working in media, we understood digital changes, but we didn’t quite have any notion of the iPhone and apps and the new world of handheld devices. Things REALLY changed then.

The urgency to stay alive in this new era, particularly in print media, meant the demise of original and adventurous content, and the pay for it was cut in half – pennies per word. Editors and creative contributors who aren’t willing to also sell ads, or at least allow for a half advertiser-directed content publication, are scarce at best and viewed only as an expense, at worst.

The biggest upside to being a GenXer?

Thanks to being born in the late 70s, I know how to utilize the world manually (say if we had a big electromagnetic pulse and all satellites and computers were fried), such as finding public records at City Hall and looking up old articles on microfilm at the Library (ugh-no! But if I had to, I could!). Because I was a young adult when the Internet came along, I was able to become proficient in the digital world quite quickly. The Internet truly brought us a never-before-experienced world of open communication. It’s the New Frontier and we really are just getting started! For the first time, regular people have some serious power to communicate with each other and shine a spotlight on ourselves – our highs and lows – and for all the one-off quantity with less quality – I’m still happy it’s here.  It’s harder to be seen and noticed, but it’s also harder to hide things that need to be shown!

We GenXers (and others, too) aren’t fooled by the media-circus of distractions and fringe issues that keep us from focusing on what’s really happening – we feel it and we are uniting online!

This GenXer with my Journalism degree has the best of both worlds to benefit me. Grabbing my spiral notebook, pen and my Macbook, I head to today’s local coffee shop for some creative cultivation.

😉

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