Life in a Box

Sometimes do you find yourself wondering, Is this my life? I have these moments often. Like now. Sitting here writing on deadline, a project that is meaningless, except that it’s worth more than two months’ rent, sitting here, thirty-four minutes before I have to get on the subway to go to my day job, where there are unrelated deadlines, and wishing I didn’t sign up to do this writing project. Wishing I could be writing something else. Also knowing if I could be writing something else, anything else, I’d probably be talking myself out of writing it. Insulting myself. Making myself unable to write. So it goes with me. So here I am. A song I like has just come on my playlist and I’m shaking my foot to it—out of rhythm probably; in this life I have no musical ability whatsoever—and I see people watching me. I forget where I am often, what I look like to others, how when I might feel unhappy I might look startlingly happy to someone else, and how weird that is. I am writing things I do not want to be writing because we are in the red (I don’t even know what that means except I am told this is true, this state of red) and on days like this I feel boxed up, folded up inside this small compartment, waiting, just waiting, to be let out. I really don’t know how to start my life over, I really don’t. I mean I do, but I don’t have the time to do it. That’s an excuse. In this life, I have too many.

Someone at work quit yesterday.

I ask myself:

How many creative people have you seen come and go from these day jobs you find yourself in? First, the commiseration of time lost. Then the connection, knowing you are struggling with something similar, the comfort of having someone else in it with you. Then the confessions. Then watching them break free.

Dozens of people.

I swear it, dozens.

Writers mostly. Also filmmakers. And artists. People who are braver than you are (and more financially free?).

And you are happy for them.

You are.

You are very happy.

You are also envious.

And you are also sad.

But you don’t want to tell anyone that. Just because you’re stuck living in a box doesn’t mean anyone else should be.

5 responses to “Life in a Box”

  1. Cliff Burns says:

    It became necessary for me to become a full-time writer–the time requirements, the amount of concentration required. The money is lousy and some months are tight but I’ve never regretted my decision. Most of the people I worked for were nuts or damaged in some way and I became tired of trying to meet their weird expectations and then dragging myself home, my confidence in tatters, and attempting to compose a lucid sentence…feh! Who needs it? Better to live in poverty than be some idiot’s lapdog…

  2. will says:

    Sister, I hear ya. We have two friends who have been accepted into UCLA’s MFA screenwriting program and I’m watching them do backflips of glee…. I’m so happy for them. I’m so worried I’m the also-ran… not because of a program, just… drive.

  3. […] As I skimmed through my bloglines this morning, I came across Elizabeth’s post at Fluent and Nova’s post at Distraction No. 99, both detailing their writing struggles–getting out of that box, making the time to write, […]

  4. Your time will come. Prioritize. Honor your own voice over extra writing projects outside a full time job. No one can do that.

  5. […] August 15, 2007 at 7:37 am | In distractions | I have been watching terrible TV. Yes, amid complaints of not having enough time to write my own fiction I am taking the time out of my life to sit before the flickering box and watch reality shows about […]

%d bloggers like this: