Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Taste of My Own Medicine

I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet, but I’m somewhat of an advocate for doing things instead of just talking about them.  I know I talk a big game, but recently I had one of those moments that served as my own personal kick in the ass.

It’s kind of weird to tell everyone that I’m a writer now.  It’s even stranger to explain the whole convoluted way that I got to this point in my life, so that’s why I usually just direct people to this post and this episode of the podcast.  I mean, sure, I’ve been writing a ton—five posts for you guys every week, plus working on my novel (35 pages so far—a little behind schedule but coming along nicely) and several other projects which may or may not amount to anything.

Still, I was recently having this same conversation with someone, and I realized that I haven’t actively been searching out freelance opportunities.  Consequently, I haven’t been making much money off of my writing yet.  Part of me wants to blame the post-Australia “funk,” somewhat, as I’ve regressed into a pattern of staying up until 3 am and waking up at 11 or so, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s just the schedule that my body prefers left to its own devices.  Hell, I’m writing this post at 3 am with an old episode of Breaking Bad on in the background.  It’s just when I can focus and do my best work, uninterrupted by gchat, texts, and phone calls.

Another part of me thinks that if I keep churning out these blog posts, someone will just “discover” me and offer me my dream job.  This is not only incredibly stupid, but incredibly self-destructive.  It’s pure arrogance to think that anyone will stumble upon some of these posts and think “I MUST HAVE HIM AS A WRITER!!!”  Don’t get me wrong, I pride myself on putting a good product out there, and I’m very grateful for all of you faithful readers out there, but the act of creation and releasing that creation to the wilds of the internet is no way to get people to notice your work.  You have to work at promoting and basically getting your stuff out there in every channel possible so that other people might see it and enjoy what they read.  This is why I’m such an annoying prick on Facebook—I know it clutters peoples’ newsfeeds, or whatever the fuck they call them now, but if people like what they see and I can influence another couple of peoples’ lives through my writing, I’m doing my job.  Ultimately, I want to create a community among all of my like-minded readers so that we can create a more organized way to tackle the problems of modern life, and eventually realize our full potential with the support of like-minded individuals.  That isn’t too much to ask, is it?

At some point, though, I have to pay the bills.  And instead of trying to will people to the site through more content and better writing, I need some writing gigs that pay.  So, a few nights ago, I started sending out applications for freelance writing gigs.  “Wait, what?  You’ve been selling us a bill of goods this whole time, you bitcher asshole!”  Not really.  I still was writing, just not getting paid for it yet.  I figure if I apply for some interesting-sounding freelance gigs (and one in particular sounds like it’s especially in my wheelhouse), I’ll write more, which will improve my writing and get me greater visibility, which may, in turn, lead to more writing gigs.

I guess the whole point of this post is that you can’t wait to be discovered; you have to go out and create your dream job.  I don’t care if you’re an attorney or mopping floors at McDonalds—you should always work hard and do your best.  But hard work and “doing your best,” by themselves, aren’t enough to ultimately get that position that you want. You have to look for—and create—opportunities to get you where you want to go.

The flip side of this is that it’s easy to become an overly-self-promoting douchebag.  I know I’ve…err…”walked the line” on that one.  Hopefully you haven’t been inconvenienced, and if I have crossed that line, I do apologize.  But I figured it was no good of me to pontificate from up here if I wasn’t even taking full advantage of all of the resources available to me, so what’s good for you all is good for me, too.  And don’t worry—even if I end up writing for a bunch of other sites, I’ll keep the little nuggets of wisdom coming on this blog weekdaily for the foreseeable future.  So rest easy, exhale, and wish me good luck.

Any examples of when you had to take a little good old-fashioned American (or whatever country you’re from) initiative to get you where you wanted to be in life?  Let me know in the comments.

D.J. Gelner is a writer, entrepreneur, and recovering attorney in St. Louis, Missouri. You can e-mail him at Follow him on twitter @djgelner. Friend him on facebook here.

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