Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Old journal entries, posted out of order- Sept. 11

Before I started posting to this blog, I kept some journal entries so I would have material to work with once I got going. They were logs without the web. Some of those original pieces were never posted, and now I'm circling back to post some of interest.

September 11, 2007—No work

As I was pouring my cup of coffee before sitting down to work this morning, my wife had the t.v. on in the kitchen and tuned to MSNBC rebroadcast of what was on the air on NBC six years ago today. I got caught up in it and ended up not working.

Obviously, seeing that footage, and just noting what day it is on the calendar, brings up a lot of difficult emotion—unique to each person. In many ways, that day has resonances for my writing life, and especially this year. By some unintentional path I have ended up career and employment wise back in much the same situation I was on that day. I’m sitting in the same room in my house again, struggling with the same doubts about becoming a writer and earning a living and with similar avoidance issues.

Back then I was trying to support myself as a freelance writer and part-time college writing teacher while I worked on a novel that I have since abandoned. I was already teetering on the edge of not quite making enough money. I had a few assignments that were going to pay OK and move me up the food chain a little bit. I had just finished one after working on it all summer and sent it in. The other I had been procrastinating on and that was the day when I was going to buckle down and really start it. I was waiting for the clock to turn 9 so I could start making phone calls for interviews. I had the radio on tuned to NPR and was postponing turning it off because I didn’t really want to get to work. They reported the first plane, though with a sense that it must be an accident. And at the top of the hour they repeated it, and something about the tone of voice told me this was kind of strange. I walked across the hall to turn on the t.v. in the bedroom and saw the second plane hitting.

I ended up watching t.v. for four days straight and when I finally came back to my desk to get to work I found that my assignments had fallen through. Every magazine had torn up their editorial calendars to make way for stories about how our world had changed. The story I already completed got a kill fee. The story I was just starting got canceled.

That sent me out looking for a regular job, and once I had that the energy for the novel I was working on evaporated. Things went like that for five years until last spring when I left that job and was captured by the novel project I’m working on now.

And, to support myself, I’m again teaching writing part-time and again trying to get a freelance writing career going. A lot has changed and for several reasons I have better prospects for success, but it’s hard to see those today. It just feels too similar to what life was like six years ago.

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