What’s The Point?

What am I doing here? I am not asking an existential question. I am asking a realistic question. Why am I doing this? Why am I making such an effort almost every day so that you can be reading these words? What the hell is the point of this? Why do any of us do it?

First off, few of us are being paid for these digitalized words you are reading. We are giving it away for free while the websites which carries our writings makes money from the content we provide. What the hell is the point of that? We are not even getting a dollar a post. I have a friend who is a published novelist. He publishes with an independent press. He writes six or seven hours a day and receives a check every month, which allows him to live moderately. He is what I call a “real writer.” He is not giving it away for free all though occasionally he will post on his blog. Being a “real writer” is possible for some of us but most of us just keep giving it away for free. Why?

Most of us who post these kinds of things are doing it for free. Why? Oh, I know, it is a labor of love. We do it because we love to give expression to the ideas that machinate in our heads. It is not about the money. It is about helping others or inspiring others through the words we write and as a result getting out ideas out “into the world.” What a bunch of bullshit. There are few things I despise more when people will say to me, “Don’t give to receive, just do it because it is rewarding to you. Expect nothing back.” What a bunch of crap. Of course, we all want to succeed. We all want to be appreciated. We all want some kind of acknowledgment that what we are doing is really good. When this is not obtained in a way that feels satisfactory to us, it is miserable to try and convince yourself that you do it for the love of it.

For the most part, posting writings on-line for free on a regular basis is a thankless job. Readers feed off your blood and sweat and sometimes tears and then forget about you. Like any other glutton, readers are always looking for more from you but then poop it out when done. Sometimes they will leave an appreciative comment but for the most part all you get in return is a deep feeling like you don’t get much in return. But you keep doing it anyways hoping one day things will work out. Someday you will really matter. What a bunch of crap. What will happen is that one day you will either give up because you realize there really is no point to what you are doing (as far as improving the quality of your own lived experience goes) or you will keep writing and posting on-line and end up bitter and pissed off because you have gotten so little back from the surrounding world.

What the hell are any of us doing? Are we really so narcissistic that we have to articulate the thoughts that spin around in our heads even if we know we are giving it away for free? Do we really need to be heard that badly by others? Were we really that ignored and un-listened to as kids that we need to feel like our voice matters as adults? The various blogging sites provide us possible narcissists with platforms to post our thoughts on. While they make all the money from what we write, all we get in return is this illusory feeling that we are being heard, understood and appreciated. That our ideas matter. And for narcissists, feeling like your ideas matter is the most important thing.

So we are willing to sell our labor for free. We are in such a desperate need to be heard, to be listened to, to be validated, to feel like we matter that we are willing to write, edit and post all for free, all the time. What suckers we are. Maybe we will get a nice comment or two in return from some person we will never be in the physical presence of, from some person who is basically a digital ghost occasionally haunting us. Maybe we get some temporary satisfaction knowing some one far out there is processing our words in their heads, but what fools we are. What is the point of this? Why can’t I stop doing it? Maybe I just figured all that out.

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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.