I’m not really sure. I think it’s mostly out of frustration. I mean, I’ve found something I enjoy doing, and that I think I’m reasonably good at. (Enough that at least people have been wanting to read what I’ve been writing for the last few years.) But here’s the thing. I don’t make a living at it.
It’s given me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and taken me to places I certainly wouldn’t have gone. But I don’t make a living at it. It doesn’t pay a single bill. I’m not a writer at work. I don’t get paid to write. So am I really a writer at all?
What I mean is this. I’m a working dad. I’m not a writer at work, because writing isn’t my job. I’m not a writer at home, because writing is a pretty solitary activity that necessitates removing myself from my family. So, however much I love it, however good I may be at it, however good it makes me feel, it comes last. After work, after family. Generally, anytime I spend writing — except for a couple of hours between the kids’ bedtime and mine — is time that I’m supposed to be doing something else.
(That’s generally how I can tell if there’s something I’m supposed to be doing. If I’m writing, I’m almost certainly supposed to be doing something else. Because 90% of the time, I’m not supposed to be writing.).
It comes last. By the time I actually have time to do it, I’m so exhausted that I end up nodding off at the keyboard, and realizing — usually when I’m on a roll — that I need to go to bed, because I’ve got a long day of not-writing ahead of me. (Because I’m not a writer. Not a real one anyway.) I’ve thought about getting up early in the morning to write, and if Dylan keeps sleeping through the night that might be a possibility. The same problem presents itself though. I’ll finally be getting a good rhythm going, and it’ll be time to go spend the bulk of the day, y’know, not-writing.
Because I’m not really a writer. I’d like to be. I’ve tried landing a few full-time writing gigs that I came across. Thus far, no dice.
So, how do I go on strike? To be honest, I thought of it yesterday, in frustration after I realized that there were at least four different things I wanted to write — some of them for weeks — that I wasn’t going to get to write that evening, and probably wasn’t going to get to write tomorrow. I still haven’t written them, and I don’t know if I’ll have time to write them tomorrow. Let’s not even talk about the weekends, shall we?
And then it occurred to me. Why write them at all? Wanting to write them was just frustrating me. So, why even do it? Sure, I’d enjoy the writing, and I’d feel a sense of accomplishment when I was done. But I’d only end up wanting to write something else afterwards.
It works like this. I get into trouble first off when I start reading. Inevitably, when I read I start thinking. Thinking leads to getting an idea for something else I want to write about, and the whole thing starts all over again.
Then it occurred to me. Go on strike. Just stop writing.
But for how long? A week? A month? And to what end? It’s not like I’m negotiating a contract. Negotiating a life, maybe. But with whom?
And how would it change anything? I thought about just reverting to publishing posts that are nothing but links to other people’s blog posts. But that involves reading. And the whole downward spiral starts again. If I’m going to stop writing, I pretty much have to avoid reading and thinking if I want to avoid the kind of frustration. Then I might be able to pull it off.
But I probably wouldn’t be any happier, because I’d still want to write.
Still, I’m not a writer. At least not until after everything else. And at that point, there’s very little of myself left to put into it anyway.
Besides (Because?), it’s not like it’s my job. So it’s not like I’d really be quitting anything. And not like I’d be quitting to go be something else.
So, how do I state a writer’s strike if I’m not a writer?