Ok listen. Focus. Breathe.
I know — it’s a lot to take in and you don’t know what to do.
Just stop a moment and think.
Yes, you have to make a decision, but you don’t have to make it right now. Take a minute or two — or 102 — and think this thing through…all the way through. To the end. The end game. What’s your end game?
You want to be a writer. That’s all you’ve ever wanted. Ok yeah, there was that whole ballerina thing for a minute, but that probably had more to do with the jewelry box you were so attached to as a kid and your 1980’s crush on all things Ailey and Baryshnikov. You don’t want to be a ballerina. You like movies about ballerinas. You could probably write a really good movie about being a ballerina. And that’s the whole point. You want to write. That’s the thing you want to do every day.
Yes, you need a job. Your parents are not going to support you but that’s no reason to freak out. Your parents aren’t supporting you now and haven’t been since college. You put yourself through grad school without anyone’s help, with the exception of the occasional care box full of Goobers from your grandmother (thanks Gran!). You made it and now you’re here — in the city of all things written. This is the place to be because you’ve got a place to sleep (thanks Val!) and the bus stop is just down the street and it’s easy to get around.
Yes, it’s a good job offer and it pays well. No, it’s not writing, but it’s a company that supports writers and that’s a good thing. You would be helping writers. You could make friends with all the writers you help and they could give you the inside scoop on how to become a writer. You would be close to writers. You would see them every day. This would be good.
Except it’s not actually writing. Ok yes, you will have to write some stuff, but there’s no way you can possibly equate corporate correspondence with creating characters. You’re not going to be writing scripts. There will be no Broadway plays. You’re not even off off off Broadway. In fact, the only time you might see Broadway will be because you’re typing the name of a street.
Yes, you could do it for a while. You need to pay rent or something rent-like to Val. She’s being very nice by letting you share her apartment. You need to be able to give her something. Pay the electricity bill or the phone bill or the some other bill. Buy groceries or something grocery-like. Put some gas in her car. Something.
You could do it for a year maybe. That would get you set up. You could get a place of your own. Something small and close to a bus stop. And when you get off work, you could write. Eventually, you could sell some of your writing because of all the connections you’ll make through the writers you meet. And you can keep selling until you finally quit the job and write for a living.
This sounds like a plan.
But listen to me, ok?
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad path, the one that’s staring you down with an offer. Follow it and you will end up with a good job, a great salary, and some amazing friends that you’ll still have many years later. You will travel. You will see the world. You will meet writers who write for a living. You will help them. You will argue for them. You will win for them. It’s a good life.
But you won’t be a writer, or at least not the kind of writer you want to be. You will not conquer the world with your words. You will not spend your days creating whole worlds out of the magic dust of your imagination. You will not be on the New York Times bestseller list. You will not rate a slot in Oprah’s book club because your verbal brilliance led her to an aha moment. You will not spar with late night pundits. You will not see your byline in The New Yorker or any city’s Chronicle. Critics will not rip your words apart or attribute whole streams of eloquent consciousness (which you never intended, let alone thought of) to your writing. Neither of the Jimmies (Fallon nor Kimmel) will call.
Can you live without all of that? Of course you can.
Can you live well without all of that? Yup, you can.
Will your life be good without all of that? Of course it will. Don’t be ridiculous.
But are you ok with that? Or do you think you can hang out on Val’s sofa just a little while longer?
Are you willing to let go of the possibly maybe tomorrow to grab hold of the certain real right now?
Can you live with the what if?
Think about that. Think it all the way through to the end before you decide what to do.
Figure out your end game. The real one.
As a matter of fact, from now on, I want you to think like that for all of your life decisions. Ok?
And while you’re thinking, let me tell you something…something I know for sure.
You’ll be ok.
Good luck kid.