The machinisms of Catch-22s

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Sometimes life is a bitter pill.  You make plans, you devise ideas of how things in your life should go, and then the world throws several rusty wrenches into your well oiled machine.  Like all things that machine breaks down and your production line comes to a screeching halt.  This, my friends, has been my life for the last month and a half.

My life truly has become a veritable Catch-22.  My financial situation has forced me to take a second job for the betterment of my families life.  Ergo, I need time to make money, but the writer side of me screams that I need money to make time for writing.  Like one paradoxical chain of frustration, I find myself quickly becoming embittered to far more things than I ever thought myself.

I work two jobs for a total of sixty-five hours a week.  I see my wife and kids for aproximately two hours a day, before collapsing from exhaustion.  For my regular readers, you guys know that I have never gone this long without blogging, and for that I am truly sorry.  I want to do so many things, but the sheer thought of the work and energy that they require binds my hands and tapes my mouth shut like a victim about to be raped by the phalanx of life.

I wanted to do NaNoWriMo again this year.  I had been drafting and planning for weeks, and for the first time in months I felt like my story was going to actually have focus and purpose.  Now I watch my ideas sit in a notebook, growing stagnant like a pool of blood that my time and soul had wrought.

In case my myriad of analogies have failed to make their point, I hate my life.  I see no way to escape this paradox.  I need to write to get myself out of this situation, but my financial responsibilities stop me from making the money I need to support the only possible escape I can foresee.  I don’t hate the people around me, nor their actions, in fact I revel in my twitter acquaintances tweets about their NaNo successes, and a real life friend is actually working on the final read through of the novel  he has been slaving over for at least two years now, and I couldn’t be happier for him, but I feel no joy in life without time to creatively express the words my soul longs to sing.

I thought I could still manage NaNo this year by writing on my breaks and lunch at my full-time job, then I could type them up for an hour a day at home, but even my lunches at my job are consumed by my work.  I really have no idea how to get out of this machine.

I truly apologize for this blog, which as I complete I feel has become little more than a rant, but I wanted to let you guys all know that I had not died and I wanted your suggestions.  How do you starving artists and writers do it?  For those of you with families, how do you find the time and resources to take care of them and still support your creativity?  Any help and ideas will not be turned away.

Lastly, before anybody gets too upset with me for my comments, understand that I do know that I have much to be thankful for, it’s just hard to remain thankful when the weight of everything else keeps pressing down on me.

Thanks to those of you that still support me, and I look forward to your comments.

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7 thoughts on “The machinisms of Catch-22s

  1. Sunwolfe

    I am constantly at war with myself over the issue of time. I work a ten to eleven hour day; this includes a two-hour round trip commute. To find time to write, I get up at 04:00 and write for an hour and 30 minutes. I have weekends off, but instead of sleeping-in, I keep to my same schedule so as to write. Because I don’t have my commute, however, I am able to write longer than usual.

    I view any amount of writing as a victory. Some victories are more satisfying than others, to be sure, but as long as I’m dedicating some time to writing, I have taught myself to be satisfied that at least things are moving forward, maybe not by much, but more today than yesterday.

    I’m not going to try to suggest our lives are the same. They are not. My children are grown and have children of their own. My wife is a very busy woman with creative ambitions of her own and is thus, busy with them. My job gives me great satisfaction. On the other hand, I do remember when my six-days a week, 10-hour a day, job sucked so much I hated getting up in the morning; my kids were young and needed me; and I was married to a wife, who was—at the time—about as creative as a rock and only half as sympathetic.

    What did I do to remain sane and true to myself? I’ll tell you, but you must understand something first.

    Though I day-dreamed about being a writer when I was your age, I did not believe in myself as a writer. Oh, I wrote and wrote often but quickly, incidentally, here and there, without discipline or commitment…in my journal…in a note book…on slips of paper…on the back of envelopes. I wrote short pieces constantly. I wrote desperate journal entries on how life sucked. I jotted quick poems and drew maps in a pocket calendar. I outlined ragged plot-lines in the “NOTES” section of church bulletins. I hastily described characters in one paragraph blurbs on the back of receipts. I did not, however, consider myself a writer. That must be clear. I had been brainwashed by well-meaning advisors into believing that writing for a living would be too difficult for someone like me. I believed their bull-shit and thus, did not believe in myself, and because I did not believe in myself, I never had a chance to make the balls-out, I-want-it-as-bad-as-my-next-breath commitment to writing I wish I had. Instead I made other choices.

    So, what did I do? I did major surgery and changed the playing field.

    I put my writing away. I continued to journal, probably more so than before, but as for working on stories and developing characters, I stopped. I turned my energy towards finding a new job that I could stand that would support my family. When that didn’t pan out, I went to college. This began a long, economically challenging, soul crushing, relationship breaking, frustratingly difficult journey. My life became a wearying cycle of school, work, study, family, work some more and sleep.

    Finally, after years, I got my degree and eventually found a job where I have been for the last 22-years. Success? Can you say “failed marriage” and “single parent”? Did I sit down and finally write my novel? Uh, nope, by now I was not used to writing anything but in my journal. I was also a single parent and needed to work. It is only within the last half dozen years, since my kids have grown up and moved away and the advent of a second marriage, that I have recovered my passion and desire to write.

    What’s my point? Life is both choices and perspective.

    My perspective of myself as a writer was warped and skewed. Yours isn’t. I cannot underscore how powerful this is. Who knows how things would have gone before and after college if I’d believed in myself and been unwilling to give up that part of who I am for any price. Your time is limited, but if you see yourself as a writer and you write everyday, no matter the amount, it’s more than you did before and you’re a writer! Who knows what tomorrow’s tide will bring in. Things always change.

    I chose to marry and have children before I got a career. Had my perspective been different, I may or may not have made those choices when and how I did. Be that as it may, I had to do something if I wanted to change my life. If I’d not gone to college, it is arguable that I would have stayed a prisoner of my perspective and the results of my choices. Instead I changed the paradigm. Unfortunately, because of my self-image, it took me a long time to get back to that love of writing I had.

    Am I suggesting you do the same? Of course not. I don’t know you or your situation in detail and even if I did, considering what happened to me, I would hesitate giving such advice to anyone. What I am saying is that you have some things going for you: a sense of who you are and how precious your writing is. Don’t underestimate that. I’m also saying that waiting for the world to change may be a long wait and changing it yourself may be an option to explore…not an easy, gentle or “good for all concerned” one but an option nonetheless.

    • I really appreciate you taking the time to give me your insights! It’s true that I still have my wife and kids and I am thankful for them every day, even the ones where my son is a terror. And in reality, they are the reason I go through all of this. I have to take care of them., hence the two jobs. It may not be what I want, but it’s what they need.

      It’s true that I love writing and drawing more than most things in life, but I just wish it was enough. I haven’t found any way to make money from either of my skills yet and that is the underlying problem. I love to do them, but they aren’t helping the now.

      Still, I understand what you’re saying though. I may need to reassess how I spend my time outside of work. Perhaps I can shave off a few hours of sleep each week to find that time to write. I appreciate you taking the time to offer your advice and experiences.

  2. i know it sounds cliche but you are young…way younger than me. yet here i am doing things that should have been done 30 years ago. i chose to waste a huge part of my life as a heroin addict until 4 yrs. ago when i had to quit to undergo cancer treatment. i have 4 yrs.sober/drug free, alomost 4 yrs. cancer free to.plus almost a year of college under my belt. i seriously understand the time and money problems to. and i know it is a great thing to get the anger / rage out any way possible well… except in a way that will land one in jail! 🙂 so do not feel the need to apologize for venting… we all use the blogs to vent from time to time. me included.

    • First off, madame, congratulations on your accomplishments and fortunes! I know I’ve still got a lot of life ahead of me, I just wish I didn’t feel like I was wasting so much of it. But, I have been keeping a more optimistic attitude after having written on here, and I even managed to find a few hours to work on my current WIP!

      And thank you for your likes on some of my posts! I appreciate you taking the time to say a few words on here! 😀

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