Friday, September 13, 2002

I am quickly downward spiralling towards cynicism. Tragic, isn't it, for one who always prided herself on her optimism.

This day started off decently enough. Then I received a phone call from my mom: she had a letter for me, announcing the results of a short story contest I had entered. Of course, I didn't win. That's fine. I'm just getting started and even established writers have their stumbling blocks. It's more the timing of the annoucement that's bothering me. No fault of the contest organizers, though.

The release of the results comes at a time when I am increasingly questioning my career choice and its impracticality. I don't want to teach or be a journalist to pay the bills. So I'm afraid. I'm afraid that if I do get a day job, it'll become more than just a fiscal net. It will be my safety net. Writing is a risk. Publishing your work is even more of a risk; your livelihood is at the mercy of a group (publishers, reviewers, academics, readers) who, regardless of the quality (or lack thereof) of your work, subjectively determines success. Having something to pay the bills would make sense, wouldn't it?

It would, but the very thought of doing something other than writing frightens me. Because I suspect that if I don't feel that I have to write, I won't because writing is, after all, a risk (you put so much of yourself on the line!) It'll become just a hobby instead of my passion. And a part of me will die.

And I'm afraid, too, that physical side of me will exist (or cease to!) at the expense of the artistic. I'm damned if I don't take up a practical, money-making career and I'm even more damned (if that's possible) if I do.

The contest results didn't cause this fear. It just had the unfortunate consequence of exacerbating it.

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