Are we all in the same boat here, full of a sense that we can accomplish more than we are, but no idea on how to practically achieve it? I’m going through this phase in life a little late (or a lot, depending on my optimism/pessimism levels) and maybe everyone else has already dealt with this feeling when they were in high school or university, and the rest of you have made peace with the tools you have on hand and your ability to build with them. For me, it’s like I’ve woken up from a coma and I now have a brain full of exciting goals and dreams, but my withered coma body isn’t up to the tasks I’m presenting it.
Ego plays a huge part in all of this: I want to be in the cool kids club with the leaders and thinkers and visionaries, no matter how little experience I actually have, or the quality of contribution I can bring to the table. It’s pretty demoralizing when you want to help the people around you and your community but you don’t really know how.
Okay, the above statement is both maudlin and inaccurate. Blame senor Ego again. I do know how to help out. But I want to help out in the bigger and more impressive ways, like being a board member at a not-for-profit. The trouble is, I don’t have the skill set these boards need, and I know that. It will all take time and effort. I can’t help but glare glumly into the past at the younger version of myself and mutter about his lack of success. If young me had finished university, how much farther ahead would current me be?
The trouble with that kind of logic is that it assumes that the younger versions of me were capable of doing more than they did, when that’s not a fair assessment. My brain was a pretty sad mess for most of high school, a swirling mix of low self-esteem, social anxiety and a total lack of personal responsibility. That fog was extended and worsened by a five-year (give or take) enthusiastic drinking habit. It has been a long, difficult process of managing to function and thrive despite the brain mess, and things are much, much better.
Now that I’m paying attention to the world around me and trying to be a better all-around citizen, I’m hitting the limits of the amount of information I can process. No matter how earnest and engaged I am, I just can’t assimilate a comprehensive understanding of civic issues at the municipal, provincial, federal and international levels at the same time. My poor brain is aching. Do I like standardized testing? Is my opinion on the Shared Services plan well-informed? Do I even care if there are ad banners on the railway bridges? Is my stance on Israel fair and balanced? Ack! I don’t know! I’m just a poor author.
Speaking of artistic poverty, there’s this cheery piece of dream-crushing: http://www.locusmag.com/Perspectives/2011/09/cory-doctorow-why-should-anyone-care/
The author is a guy who has been doing this for a while, so he’s got the street cred. I know that the odds of my first book making a giant pile of cash are hilariously bad, but I really want to hold to the (reasonable?) hope that I can eke out a subsistence living by continuing to write and publish novels. I don’t want diamond shoes or anything, but would it be too much to ask to make enough to remove money stress from my life? I’m not talking a large sum of money here-when you work out the hours I spend on writing, it would probably come out to about a full-time minimum wage. Oh well. I can’t control who buys my book. I can only control the creation process.