Why The American Dream Has Killed My Writing Career.

When my wife asks me how I am and I tell her that I am depressed, she no longer asks why.

I know that all emotions and thoughts are inherently empty and impermanent so I try not to get too caught up in any of it. Sometimes, I just let myself be depressed.

I know that my entire identity is just a phantom passing in the day and night. I try not to identify with much of it.

But still I feel. Still I think. I am human.

My dream has always been to be able to make a living as a writer. A fiction writer. I did not expect this to happen until, and if, I made it to fifty.

Now at forty five I can’t really write. The American Dream has killed my writing career.

My younger self knew this would happen if I gave in. There is no one else to blame but myself.

Depression makes it hard to write. Depression is often the end result of the American Dream.

I have a house now. I must keep my house clean because I can not function adequately in a house that is a mess. Cleaning my house every day takes away from time that I can write. Being stressed out about a house that is a mess takes away from the energy I need to write.

I must work a real job in order to afford my lifestyle. A real job drains a person and does not leave them with much energy outside of work to do anything else.

I own a business, which requires much of my attention, which leaves less attention for my writing. A man can only spend so many hours working. Whether it is my real job or writing, it is all still work. I need a good amount of non-work-down-time in order to feel alright. Down time plus working a real job does not leave much space within which to write. I see now why Kafka continually decided against marriage and the domestic life.

I am married and a marriage often comes with a good amount of emotional drain. There are problems to attend to. Another person in your daily life mix. This takes up time and energy, which was once used to write.

I have a garden, a front yard and these organic entities need my daily watering attention. This takes away time to write.

I have four dogs which are continually needy. I can’t stand to see dog shit just hanging out in my yard, so I must pick this up each day since my wife refuses to. Having four, needy animals around all the time takes away from the tranquility which is often needed to write in. Dogs take up a lot of psychic space.

Then there is the daily meditation that I must do each day to deal with the anger, anxiety, stress and depression, which seems to be a daily part of American Dream life. Meditation makes me feel more at peace and when I am more at peace I have little use for writing stories. I would rather just sit in my garden and watch birds fly by.

As a business owner I have emails to check. People that want things from me. Appointments to make. People to stay in touch with. Bills to pay. Other people’s problems to think about. All of this will drain a person’s creative inner life away. All of this leaves me feeling too preoccupied with the real world to think about fictional other worlds. I am too caught up in this world and rather than write I just engage my iPhone.

Being overly connected is the death of a creative life. A creative person needs to spend a certain amount of time each day disconnected our else their creative energy will be sapped. Great artists and writers, I doubt, check their social media, text messages and emails fifty plus times a day. I do.

Then I need to do dishes, make food, buy food, be pissed about not eating the right food. This food thing takes up a lot of time that could be spent writing.

Then I need to buy things to feel better about not having the writing career I want. Does not seem to work.

Then there is everything else- bills, cleaning car, tending to cars, laundry, exercise and on and on.

This is the standard lifestyle, which is a result of achieving the American Dream. It generally leaves a person overwhelmed, addicted to zoning out on their iPhone and looking forward to that drink they can have when the day is done, so they can get some temporary relief.

This is a pathetic way to go through life. It is completely missing the point in being alive. It is a lifestyle based in comfort and security and it leaves a person feeling trapped, stuck and overly entertained. Nothing good grows out from this place. Especially not a writing career.

I know there is a lot more I could say here, but I do not have time. I must go to work now.

The End.

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How To Endure The Life Of A Writer. Conversation #27.

“Talent is extremely common. What is rare is the willingness to endure the life of the writer.” -Kurt Vonnegut

You see, I do this thing, I live this life, but it is hard for me to feel happy about it.

Why is that?

Because I am not doing what I love (for money). You read about and see people all over talking about how lucky they are to wake up and do the thing they love to do. “It is not work because I love doing it!” I hear this a lot. Lucky bastards. I don’t have this. I don’t feel this.

But you get to help people as a psychotherapist. As a meditation teacher you get to help people be more present and find healthier ways of living. The work that you do bleeds out into the world in so many ways that you are unaware of. You help countless people. You have such a deep influence in so many people’s lives.

This is great. I am happy about this. But I am not a fan of other people. “I want to be of service to others.” This has never resonated with me. “Let others fend for themselves.” This resonates with me. I do not love helping other people learn how to better deal with their problems. I am not even sure any of it works in the long term. A part of me feels like psychotherapy and meditation is just a scam. Neither work in the long term.

So you do not really believe in the work that you do?

Only a bit. I think these things can help people but only in very subtle ways. The truth is that I am just not that interested in the work I do. I do not think it is very interesting. I am bored by it. Other people bore me. The money I am able to make is good, but is this really the point? To make good money but feel unhappy all the time? You feel like something is missing. Like you are not doing what you are supposed to be doing. I try to get into the work that I do. I try to love it but it doesn’t seem to work. I am just not a people person. I don’t love people and I am in the people business.

How has this happened to you?

Just taking the easy way out. Just doing what I thought I was supposed to do. Wanting to make money. Following the rules. Too afraid to take big risks. Playing it safe. This is how this sort of thing happens. Plus I have never really had the ambition and/or energy to really apply towards doing the thing I love at a larger level. I have been too timid. Too held back. I haven’t applied myself enough because of a fear of failing I suppose. It is much easier to take a path others have created for you (professions) but there is a big price to pay if you don’t love it.

So now you are stuck. You have bills. You are in debt. You own a home. You have a career that you do not love. Your work feels like work. When you are not working you feel this hole and this envy for others who get to do the thing they love. You try and figure out how to get there but you do not know how. You are getting older. You have less energy. You feel like time is running out. You feel like you should just learn to be happy with what you got.

Yes. I just don’t know if I am going to be able to make it doing the thing I love. Not enough energy and will to apply toward it anymore. I don’t think it is good enough.

What do you love? What do you want to do?

Writing and making art (drawing/illustration).

But you don’t think it is good enough. You don’t really have the will to apply to it anymore?

Yes. I feel stuck. My career drains me of most of my energy. I am being pulled by the outside world to just settle into being a therapist and meditation teacher. This is where things seem to be happening for me. This is what I am good at and what people are willing to pay me for.

I see.

No one cares about my writing or art. No one would be willing to pay me for these things. I can’t even give my writing away for free.

Maybe you sell yourself short? You work hard at writing these conversations between you and I. You post them on-line and give them away for free. You don’t do anything with it. You don’t try and publish your writings. You don’t try and advertise your blog. You don’t do anything to get more publicity!

I know.

Why?

I just don’t have the energy and I suppose I do not think it is good enough.

I know! But the only difference between artists and writers who make a living from their work is not the talent or the quality, it is that the ones who make money from their work believe that it is good enough. They don’t give it away for free. They don’t sell themselves short.

I do.

Yes. You always sell yourself short. This is why you work a job you don’t love. You sell yourself short. You settle. You take money from people for doing a service you do not really want to be doing. You give your writing and art away for free. You continually sell yourself short. Others walk all over you. This prevents your from really doing the work you would need to do to make a living as a writer/artist. So you are pissed off. Makes sense.

I don’t know what to do about this problem!

Stop selling yourself short. Start really applying yourself to the work you want to do. Take risks. Work hard at it!

I am too tired. I am 45 years old and just want to read my books, do my thing and not have to work so hard anymore.

I know. But then you will just have to keep doing something to make money that you do not love doing.

Maybe I will just have to learn how to love doing the thing that I don’t love doing. Become more selfless. Embrace what is. Transcend my own ego and accept my fate. Make peace with it and apply myself to it. Let go of the desire to be an artist and writer.

This is called selling out.

Or it is called growing up.

Maybe. Give it a try. I don’t know if it will work. I don’t know if it is possible to feel happy this way. I don’t know if you can make yourself love something that you don’t love. I just don’t know.

Neither do I.

Well just keep doing the things you love in your off time. Keep reading, drawing, writing, living. Maybe if you keep doing these things enough eventually it will pay off. Maybe because you are a slower worker, maybe because it takes you a lot more time than say someone who is ambitious, you will not get to do the thing you love for money until a lot later in life.

Possibly. I can only hope this is true.

Just keep doing the things you love. Stick with it. Don’t give up.

Ok.

You are tearing up. Does this make you sad?

I guess a bit. It has just been a long, lonely, frustrating road. But I will not give up.

Stick with it. Keep at the things you love to do.

Ok. Well thanks for your support.

Sure. Hope you have an enjoyable Sunday.

Thanks. You as well.