It’s good to be able to dream big, but it’s also good (and helpful) to realize what reality as a writer will look like.
For example, my big, crazy dream is to be able to travel and write. I want to be able to write my own stuff, but I also want to be able to write about important things going on around me, be it political, social or cultural, and take some photos as well. A independent photojournalist or something of that sort. Or maybe I just want to be able to live in a shack in the woods and just write madly until the end of my days, it really changes daily.
I suppose I could buckle down and work really hard on studying what others are doing in these areas, which is totally possible in my spare time, and it would just take the patience and practice (and luck) of being a blogger and Instrgram poster who monetizes my content and has a big following of folks who appreciate my wit and candor regarding coffeeshops that I visit and like, or just my musings on a current event or political situation I find interesting.
In reality, I’m going to be lucky if I can finally get this current book project funded and out into the world, and put out a poetry chapbook or even some novel-length work every couple of years. I’m a working hack who happens to like his job and be fairly good at it most days, and unless we become independently wealthy, I’m going to be slogging away until retirement and then some at some structured form of work.
Another thing I could and will likely do is work my ass off to promote and support other fellow writers and artists, and create some community spaces for folks to gather and congregate within here and there.
I suppose I could start some sort of business doing that, or even more likely a non-profit to be able to afford more time to do those things, but both of those will detract from my already limited time and mental capacity. This isn’t me writing those off as never-gonna-happens, but it’s me being realistic regarding my current capabilities and strengths. I’ve never ran a business or none-profit before, and after doing some initial research and inquiring, these routes don’t seem very viable or sustainable without an enormous amount of start-up capital and a hellva lotta grant applications.
So, where do my dreams and my current reality intersect? What do my strengths and capabilities allow for right now?
And knowing myself, I’m not going to be happy with my conclusion tomorrow, or two days from now, or next week. I’m gonna look at what I’ve assigned myself and think “dude, what the fuck? You can be doing so much more! You can just be working for yourself!” While these self-criticisms might hold some truth, I know myself well enough to know that if I let my dreams overtake the present-day, manageable stuff I can realistically do and maintain, I’m going to take on too much, spread myself too thin, and do a shitty job at everything.
If you’ve never overextended yourself to the point of a near mental and emotional breakdown, when everything is going wrong with your job, your marriage and you are desperately broke, and I highly recommend it. Ok, I actually don’t recommend it at all, but until you have more plates in the air then you can keep there, then you might think that I’m playing it too safe, not taking that big risk that you need to in order to really “live your dreams” or whatever. I’ve been there one too many times, and with my tendency to overcommit myself to all the things coupled with days when I’m to depressed or anxious/frustrated to barely do the bare minimum, I need to keep my dreams and what’s actually achievable for myself in check.
So, what’s achievable and realistic for me right now, you may ask?
Well, I’m still working on getting this book project printed, and am slowly making strides (I think) at revising the promo materials such has social media and websites regarding the project, as well as planning out and outlining the next several writing projects. I’m also working on creating that aforementioned community space by planning out a few monthly writing groups and meetups for busy folks who just want a few dedicated hours to focus on their stuff, but without the need to share it or feel pressured to present and preform in some kinda way. I’m also working on practical ways to support and promote my fellow writer and artist friends by helping them out a bit more with things that I already attend or would have helped them out with anyway.
No, it doesn’t sound as thrilling as quitting my day job and jetting off across the country and world, wowing people with my deep introspection on whatever it is that day, but it’s my speed, and just about right for what I can handle right now, at least for this year. So, I’m trying to dream big in little steps, and we will see where that takes me.