Over the last month or so, I have had some excited opportunities come my way, and I wanted to take a minute to update my readers. As you all know, I’m constantly on the hunt to publish stories, essays, and novels, and I’m extremely passionate about the creative journey in whatever form that takes. My updates relate to both of these aspects.
Over the course of the last six months, I have been working on a new type of memoir piece that was inspired by a short story by Lettie Prell. Her story made “The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018,” and it was called Justice Systems in Quantum Parallel. I loved this story because it’s form was extraordinary. It imagines a person in prison and what that same prison would be like in different parallel universes. Brilliant story. Def recommend reading.
Basically, I was inspired by that structural technique applied to the justice system, and I began to explore how that technique could apply to how our country treats mental health. As you may know, I have written many times about growing up with a mother with a severe mental illness, and I have helped her many times get in and out of mental hospitals.
It’s been almost a month since I’ve written a blog post, and this is a trend that’s going to end this week. My wife thinks I don’t really care about this blog. But no! I have been busy working on my memoir. And if you’re a follower of my blog, then you know it’s my mission, my journey, my goal to publish this book. Almost a year ago, an agent suggested a revision. I’m please to announce that the revision is finally finished.
Well, at least this revision. I’ve been writing this book for almost eight years now.
To be honest, I’m not even sure if it’s the last revision. You know what, I can say for sure, no matter what happens from here, I will still be working and editing the book. But it feels good. Now the waiting begins.
It’s funny. As a writer, you need to learn to have extreme patience; you need to learn to accept all the things that are out of your control; and you need to learn confidence. Because there are so many ups and downs, so many periods of prolonged waiting, it’s essential to develop a strong belief in the self. I will make myself a white Russian — or two — as I’m waiting.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. And when I first started thinking about this idea, “writer,” in correlation with my life, I really didn’t quite have a grasp of the image of what made a person a writer — or how the hell I could become one. The one thing I thought I knew from reading my heroes (Hemingway, Twain, and Kerouac) was that I had to live my life, in some shape or form, as if I was living in a book.
Now, when I was younger, to try and fulfill this prophesy, I would travel and move as much as possible. In fact, I thought that if I didn’t travel widely, I wasn’t really actually traveling like a writer. Destination is death! I was hungry for experience to write about, searching for it in Guatemala, Prague, Detroit — places that have become as much a part of my identity as my childhood. And while that idea has changed — experiences come in all forms — the aspect that I still hold true about living my life like a book is the idea of structure. For example, like the old cliché goes, there are chapters to one’s life, closing a book, beginning a new, a personal renaissance — all that bullshit. Each year, each period, each section of my life plays a larger part in the whole, and I have begun to expect the dramatic changes — almost yearn for them. Because in a certain sense, saying goodbye is the ultimate freedom.
What I’m trying to say is that a chapter has ended; I am no longer a full-time freelance writer.
I’ve been looking back over this blog, and it’s been six months since I wrote my first real post about quitting my job, pursuing my career as a freelance writer, stopping the soul-sucking commute, and beginning to write, write, write. And I did. I wrote for some great publications — Salon, LA Weekly, OC Weekly, The Village Voice — and I told some great stories. I wrote about the ports, the closing of a fish market, Jack Kerouac, truckers, books, poets/actors. I even wrote a cover story. And it’s been wonderful. I worked with some great people who helped me out along the way down in the LBC and Orange County. (Sarah Bennett, Gustavo Arellano, Nate Jackson are incredible people!)
But in the end, I just felt that I couldn’t make enough of a living. My student loans, my rent, and my medical insurance bills were always speaking to me — “Hey, you know you’ve got to pay me, right?” — and I found that I wasn’t happy waking up and hustling for pieces that paid very little — though some paid much better than the others. And writing for me isn’t initially about the money, unless that’s your income — then, yes, it’s about the money. I do like security. I do like a steady paycheck, but I also love writing. If an opportunity comes up to be a full-time writer, of course, I’m going to consider it.
And I’m going to still freelance on the side and pitch the stories I want to pitch. Meantime, an opportunity came up that I couldn’t refuse. As of last week, I have started a job as a Writer and Social Media Specialist at a public relations firm in Westwood. From my window, I can see the Pacific Ocean, The Getty, and Westwood. I moved to West L.A., and I’ll be working 2 miles from where Heron will be working in July. It’s an opportunity that I feel lucky to have.
But there’s something else I’ve had to confront about working full-time as a freelance writer — besides the struggle to afford basic living requirements — is that I haven’t had enough time to work on my memoir.
I don’t know if you remember, dear reader, but a few months back, I wrote a post about revising my novel. Six months ago, an agent at an amazing literary agency asked for some revisions. The biggest revision: turning my novel into a memoir. Well, because I have been so focused on writing to make money to survive, well, I haven’t really worked on the memoir. I have pieces. But I don’t have a manuscript. And out of all the writing I’ve done, this is the most important to me, because it’s my story, my town’s story, my family’s story — the story I must tell before I can really write any other stories that I have in the back of my mind. And in order to write this book, I need some consistency in my life. I need to be able to come home from work and work.
So, I begin again a new but the same journey. So from now on when you read my blog, you’ll still see me sharing stories I’ve written for some magazines, but you’ll be following the longer journey of me trying to publish my book — plus, just what it’s like to live in L.A. And I’m no longer chasing being a writer, because, well, I am one. Nothing can take that away anymore.
I will share everything along the way. I hope you’ll stay around to see how this story develops. Really appreciate you being a part of this.
So let’s see what happens in the next chapter — Into the City.