“Are you still writing?”

I just spent the evening at a celebratory party in honor of the one professor cool enough to convince me to break my ban on writing classes not once, but twice in college. If you know my opinion of writing classes, that’s really all you need to know to understand just how very awesome that is.

At any rate, there were lots of deeply cool people in the Chicago “cool people doing artsy stuff” scene, none of whom I knew about before, or who I’ll remember the names for in ten minutes, and a few other of her former students. Interestingly, all of the other students, and half of the deeply cool people I talked to, upon finding out I was a former student, asked me, “So, are you still writing.” To which the answer is: Yes. Compulsively. Particularly of late. I’ve been churning out short stories during meetings faster than I’m getting around to typing them up to put here, I am beating the “Smaller act of criminal verbosity” into something not embarrassing to show a stranger with the hopes of getting paid for it, and let’s face it guys, I’ve never not been knee deep in the middle of a project too long for its own damn good. That last bit is almost literally true – I still have the file of the project I was working on when I taught myself to type because hand writing it was too slow. I was eight when I taught myself to type.

This brings me fairly face first into something else though, because the other question I’ve been getting a lot of lately is, “What’s your long term plan?” Depending on the audience and my mood, the answer is either pay off my student loan debt and develop a nest egg then flee to grad school or pay off the loans, develop a nest egg, then take a year off before going into consulting and actually making my hourly billable rate. Both of these answers are bald face lies because while grad school would be awesome, as would being self-employed and filthy disgusting rich, I do not want to do these things, they’re just good ideas.

I’m not Jewish, but it is a time of coming clean, so here it is: I want to sit on my couch all day, make up complex characters who are all marginally evil yet lovable, then kill them. All day long. Every day. And get paid for it. If I say I want to do anything else, I am lying. It’s a big, fat, utterly convincing, perfectly grounded, lie. Statistically speaking nobody gets to do what I want and still earn a living wage, so the lie is a better idea, but it’s a nasty little untruth. I will, eventually, always wind up hating my job* because it’s in the way. But it feeds me, and it keeps me in new books and internet access, and the occasional frivolous gadget (not to mention Dr. Who DVDs), so I keep it.

This is not a plea for citation of cliches and after school tropes. I was perfectly cognizant of the cons for my choice when I made it, and I think I nailed them pretty accurately. I’m just disturbed by my reluctance to publicly admit that’s what I’m doing, and correcting that.

My plan is to sell out. My plan has always been to sell out**. I have sold out. I will not starve for my dreams. Hell, I won’t even live in a noisy apartment complex filled with racist yuppies for them. But yes, I’m still writing. And these days, character death involves explosives.

*I’m not there with this one yet, but I have my moments and they’re getting more common and more extreme.
**I was eight when I started writing. I was eleven when I decided that no way was that going to be a career choice, the waif look will not do it for Miss Anaea.

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