Monday, March 28, 2016

A Life Without Writing

If I stopped writing...

1. I'd be much more likely to say what I really think of people to their faces, rather than just write it down, which means I'd probably get head-butted a lot more often.

2. I'd start posting pictures of my lunch or my outfits on Instagram, because everyone knows that those pictures are so fascinating (it's like, can we have MORE selfies, please?).

3. The fictional characters I already created would probably haunt my dreams and say stuff like, "You owe us endings to our stories. If you don't write one for us, we will give you nightmares filled with the things that freak you out the most, including clowns, knives, and one of the Kardashians as President (in that case, posting selfies would become mandatory, and anyone who broke that law would have to buy and read all 448 pages of Kim Kardashian's book of selfies)."

4. I'd stop going to book signings, because I'd feel jealous of the writers who never stopped pursuing their dreams like I did.

5. I'd read less, which would mean I'd have more time to "like" Instagram posts by reality show celebrities and read articles about their Twitter feuds, which would cause my brain cells to die, one by one.

6. I'd look at my journal longingly, similar to the way I look at cupcakes in a bakery or the muscular gay men dancing on floats in Chicago's Pride Parade.

7. I'd always feel like something was missing from my life.

8. I wouldn't communicate with all of you nice people in the blogosphere, who have been very kind and supportive to me through the years.

9. I wouldn't feel that same sense of pleasure I feel when I sit down to write, or when the story heads in a different direction that I wasn't expecting.

For a while now I've actually contemplated giving up writing. This past year has been really busy, what with my full-time job and my part-time job, which is why I haven't blogged as much in the past several months. To be honest, other than journal entries, blog posts, and Tweets, I haven't written anything (other than stuff for work) in months. It made me wonder if maybe I'd lost my writer's "mojo," and it also made me doubt that I had it at all.

I even thought about giving up my blog and my Twitter page. Some people get fifty responses (or hundreds) on their blog posts, whereas I'm lucky if a more than a few dozen actually read my blog posts one at a time, even though I've been blogging for six years now. I have more Twitter followers than blog followers, but more often than not, the people who follow my blog immediately send me DMs asking me to check out or promote their album/book/film/GoFundMe page, which tells me why they're really following me (I never respond to their DMs, nor do I do what they ask).

But if I gave up writing, then I truly would be a workaholic, one hundred percent. I've finally realized that there has to be more to life than work, and writing fiction and creative nonfiction is the one thing that doesn't feel like work to me. Even when it does, it's still something that I want to do, not something that I have to do to pay the bills.

So for now, I'm not giving up writing, though I do have to accept that I may have to wait until summer to spend more time on it. I gave up or lost almost everything else that mattered because of my work. I'm not willing to let my work destroy the one thing I have left.

What about you? Have you ever felt tempted to give up writing?

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Gift That Keeps On Giving Me Heartburn

Now that I'm making friends and socializing more in Small Town, it's nice to interact with people and say something other than "Get OUT of my parking space, FREAK SHOW!" (to my neighbors) or "Put your cell phones DOWN!" (to my students).

One thing about socializing, though, is that it can be expensive. Recently I was invited to a birthday party at the only fancy restaurant in Small Town. The birthday girl said that we didn't have to get her anything, but I knew that several other people would bring gifts. I didn't want to be the only person who showed up without a birthday gift. Not to mention I didn't have enough money for a meal at a fancy restaurant, especially considering how most of my meals consist of pasta, peanut butter sandwiches, or toast and scrambled eggs.

Due to the debt I accumulated from my move to Small Town, as well as student loans, car payments, rent, and other expenses, I just don't have enough money for an active social life sometimes. I know that you can't put a price on friendship, but you can put a price on gifts for those friends, like gifts for birthdays, weddings, baby showers, housewarming parties, etc., etc.

I don't tell this to Small Town Guy and his friends, because they've all been so nice and welcoming to me. But they all make a lot more money than I do, so I think it might be harder for them to relate to the fact that I can't afford a ticket to a play in the nearby big city that they want to go to, or a shopping spree at a mall in one of the other big cities (the closest thing that Small Town has to a mall is Walmart).

I could try giving them homemade gifts. But although I've gotten a little better at cooking, it's still difficult for me to bake anything without cringing immediately after I taste it. I can't sew or knit without accidentally poking myself (usually in the eye) with the needle.

It reminds me of that episode of Sex and the City, where Carrie Bradshaw had to spend a bunch of money on gifts for her married friends, but lamented over the fact that single people like her rarely received gifts for their own special occasions (the fact that they were single apparently meant they had fewer occasions to celebrate).

But here are a few of MY ideas for special occasions that single people like me would like presents for (I know it'll never happen, but still, it'd be nice):

A gift for all the times my mother tells me about all the women younger than me who are already married with children, and then she calls me a spinster or an old maid (one of the times she did this was when she called me on my thirtieth birthday).

A gift for all the bad dates I've been on, like the one with the guy who waited a month to call me after our first (and only) date, and then he got mad and insulted me when I made it clear that I was no longer interested.

A gift for all the hours I spent poring over online dating profiles, only to dismiss more than half of them because the guys my age made it clear in their profiles that they only wanted to date women who were at least ten (or fifteen) years younger.

A gift for all the messages on online dating sites that I received from guys who were twenty (or thirty, or, in one case, forty) years older than me.

A gift for all the times I had to tell my parents' friends that yes, I'm still single; no, I don't have a boyfriend right now; NO, I'm not a lesbian. (I WISH I was making that last one up.)

A gift for the time I sat next to a couple in a coffee shop who kept making out and calling each other cutesy names, and I resisted the urge to eat the croissants they were neglecting and/or throw those croissants at them.

It would be nice if single people got their own special day to celebrate being single, similar to how couples have Valentine's Day and anniversaries to celebrate their relationships. But we're not supposed to celebrate our single status; we're supposed to keep looking for love, or else be accused of being old maids or lesbians (as if there's something wrong with being either, which there isn't).

Oh, well. Either way, I am grateful to the people who have extended their offers of friendship to me, even if I have to occasionally decline their invitations to hang out. It's just too bad that I can't give a peanut butter sandwich as a gift.

What about you? Are there any occasions in your life that you wish you could get presents for? How do you deal with the costs of socializing?