Monday, May 31, 2010

Sangria + Frozen yogurt + the future...

My friend Liz is moving to Chicago in less than a month, and I discovered today that she had never been to Pambiche. Portlanders, if you haven't been here, go. It's a fantastic Cuban restaurant, and literally everything is delicious.

After finishing up at Pambiche, we headed over to Swirl on Hawthorne. We talked, in both places, about a number of things, but I started to tell her that last night I woke up panicked about the prospect that I may not get this super job I so desperately want.

And so we started discussing options. Maybe, as my parents have said, I should go back to school again, and become an LPC (licensed professional counselor). It was something I had in mind for the future, years down the line (after seeing the requirements, I understand why most counselors are older!). But I have seen many, many jobs requiring this or an LMHC (mental health counselor), so maybe it's time.

Maybe, Liz suggested, this is meant to push you to commit to your writing, and do it full time. I have to be honest, the prospect of this filled me... with fear. I love writing, don't get me wrong. And I've mentioned here that when it works, it can make me feel more awake and more alive than almost anything else. But the idea of committing to it and making writing my official career choice, with nothing else behind it, is frightening.

For one, I don't know what kind of writer I would be. Would I freelance, scraping up what I could, at least to start? I have one freelance project now, and that hasn't even finished.

For two, I don't know that I'm actually good. I think that I am, and believe that I am, and I know that people who love me and care about me have said that I am very good. But millions of people in this world are fully supported into doing something they, in fact, cannot do well. Who's to say I'm not one of those millions? I know I'm biased; chances are you are too.

For three, melancholy stretches aside, I'm extroverted and highly distractable. I still don't understand how I began to write in the first place. Even with collaborative projects, writing is a deeply lonely practice. It's shared once it goes , but the actual work of writing requires you, and something to write with. That's it. I don't know if I have that in me.

Maybe you need to go somewhere else, Liz said. And this is when the conversation really got depressing. I love Portland. I love living here, and I feel more at home here than I ever have anywhere else. I feel more at home here than I did when I lived in Ireland, and at the time, I claimed that I would live there forever if I could. I would still go back... I just don't know about forever.

Aside from the job market, Portland has treated me extremely well. I have an excellent community of friends here. The city is accessible and welcoming, in its cynical Portland way. I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be. I'm practically an evangelist for Portland. Maybe that's the problem.

Still, maybe this super job will call me, tell me they loved me, and when can I start? But if they don't, I am certainly at a crossroads. Here's hoping the second half of 2010 will provide more answers than the first.


  1. I wanted to wish you well as you make these important decisions. Sounds like you need a day job, in order to continue your writing. If Portland did not sound like where you wanted to be, I would suggest work as an assistant in a lit agency for the contacts and inside look at the publishing industry, but I don't know there are any in Oregon??? What I really want to say though is that if writing is your passion, you will only find satisfaction as a writer. To make a living, I became an innkeeper. I make $, but still intend to somehow get a book published because that is how I will find my satisfaction. (I had an agent who decided the topic of my manuscript was not going to find a home and gave up.) I do not give up and urge you not to give up on writing either. But do find an alternative way to pay the bills!

  2. I feel your pain! Job/career issues can be very challenging to deal with. I'm a writer now, but spent several years working in human services and have a passion for psychology. Also for the arts. It's so hard to feel that you're at a crossroads and unsure where to turn. I wish you much luck in your journey. Feel free to email me if you'd like to bounce any ideas around or just vent. I know where you are coming from.

  3. Thank you for your support! I have a final-stage interview tomorrow (just found out this morning). Hoping to hear 'you're hired!'

  4. Pray... have faith and after praying... listen.