Friday, May 26, 2017

Pledge Week: A bleak career assessment

I used to dream I’d one day become a great writer. A wiser man would have known it would have been better to dream he’d one day become a successful writer.

Big difference.

Am I a great writer? Lots of people say so. I think I’ve become exactly the kind of writer I always wanted to be, funny with a keen eye for offbeat observation. I know there are no other writers that make me wish I could trade my talents for theirs.

Maybe I’m delusional.

Or maybe I’m not delusional enough. Being more delusional would certainly benefit my peace of mind.

I’ve written two books that have earned exactly the kind of reaction writers crave. People say say they’re hilarious and soulful. They buy them for friends and recommend them to other readers. They provide gushy on-line reviews.

Even many of my friends began treating me differently after they’d read “The Last Baby Boomer.” Sure, they loved “Use All The Crayons!” But that book wasn’t so much written as assembled, stitched together with treads and fabric I’d worn like so many colorful shirts.

But “Last Baby Boomer” was real writing really written. It’s like my friends were shocked someone they know so well was capable of something they considered great.

It’s a real kick in the ass when that shit happens.

So many people compare it to Kurt Vonnegut. In fact, I’d never read Kurt Vonnegut until readers started comparing me to him.

I read “Dead Eye Dick.” Didn’t like it. Thought I was better.

How’s that for delusional!

I’ve never asked anyone to take me seriously, but people began taking me more seriously as a writer after they’d read that book. It was very gratifying. So, I thought, this is what if feels like to be a real writer.

Only took me 30 years!

You’re aware by now of my affections for the blog. People say they can’t live without it. Many of these same people, to my ever-loving chagrin, don’t seem to have the disposable income to justify paying even a penny a post for it. 

One of the great surprises to me is how much people enjoy hearing my “Use All The Crayons!” talk. I’ve twice been paid $2,500 to address groups of 250 people. And they all loved me and chipped in with referrals and gushy compliments I still use when pitching to other event planners.

How come I can’t figure out a way to arrange one of those a month? Am I close? Somedays I think so. Other days, I fear it’ll never happen.

I may, indeed, be a great writer and speaker, but I’m an utter failure in every single category that people like Trump use to consider success.

I’m in debt. My car’s a wreck with 180,799 miles on it. I can’t afford to buy my wife and kids the things I wish I could. I sometimes feel crushed by disappointment.

How come I can’t convert evident abilities into even meager income?

My entire so-called “career” seems to be one of disappointment, rejection, humiliation and cruel defeat. I lie awake at night wondering how it’s all gone so wrong.

And what’s truly confounding is how I wake up every morning soulfully convinced that this will be the day something great is bound to happen. I’m stubbornly convinced I’m doing exactly what I ought to be doing and it’s all going to work out just fine.

Sadly, I’ve been thinking that every day since, gulp, 1992.

I may be broke but, by God, I’ll never be broken.

Being delusional isn’t a character flaw.

Being delusional is a frreakin’ godsend.

• Chris Rodell, 874 Solomon Temple Rd., Latrobe, Pa. 15650. Or just click the PayPal ( donate button.

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