The Concessionist gives advice each weekend about the sordid choices of real life. Trouble? Write today.
Is there a future in writing? Or in publishing at all? I’m in my early 30s, and find myself kind of unexpectedly at a career/life crossroads. For the past many years, I’ve been more or less happily living some milquetoast version of a professional double life. My main employment has been in communications: publicity, branding, social media, blah blah. It’s not at all terrible work, but it sure can be! The people can be fun and interesting, and you definitely get a kind of thrill from it. Plus the parties are usually pretty good.
At the same time, I’ve also done some writing for a variety of publications. It’s, like, what? A hobby? A creative outlet? Something interesting I do to keep myself sane? A kind of internet cosplay? I honestly don’t know. I have gotten an offer or two to blog on staff for some publications, but they were entry-level jobs with entry level salaries. The kind of thing I’d talk about with my friends, and say, “If I were 25, I would take that job in a SECOND. But now…” Because I’m a bit older, and making a pretty small amount of money just so I can satisfy my ego by being able to say “I’m a writer” at dinner parties seemed selfish and short-sighted. (Plus does that even impress people at dinner parties anymore, or do they look at you like you’re insane and poor?)
Now, however, I’m out of work, and have a few job offers. Some are working as a writer, and some are working as a publicist. The publicity jobs, again, pay at least $20,000 more. Normally, I’d be able to sigh and take the higher paying job—sacrificing my ego to—what? Well, ideas of responsibility, plans for my future, and honestly my own desire to make more money and live the lifestyle and have the self-esteem that go along with that. Somehow, though, this time, I’m having a lot of trouble. It seems like, you know, since I have an actual real offer for a not-insanely low salary to work in publishing, and passing it up is like 100% firmly acknowledging forever that I was always playing at writing, that I wasn’t really dedicated, that I’m a fraud, and that really I’ve been a soulless corporate drone my whole life. I mean, I’ve basically never cared about or been proud of anything I’ve ever done in communications, other than maybe my paycheck. There’s the satisfaction that comes from working out a knotty problem, or winning some kind of bureaucratic battle with my bosses, but nothing that I’d like want to (or be able to!) show my friends or family, or look back on with any kind of satisfaction.