Spent the day reading Erich Fromm’s, Beyond the Chains of Illusion – probably one of the more important reads I’ve enjoyed in a while – one of those “right of passage” books you happen across right when you need it – just like finding the precious amulet or map in a video game.
Only, this treasure came from my bookshelf.
It took about a minute to pick it out, having decided to read something while Sarah hiked in the woods with her dad with this a.m. Frankly, I was in a mood – I was already committed to working over the weekend, despite having a guest in town, and, what’s more, my hard-drive failed last night.
The hard-drive failure felt like some sort of techno-biological psychosomatic symptom, as if it were my machine’s way of telling me: fuck you, enough. Only, that’s not the case – this is the case:
Literally, my laptop case.
The wear and tear you see above is from work – it’s from my wrists sliding along the laptop over thousands of hours. Of course, if this patina were from writing fiction rather than countless lines of code, it would be cool (Rather than kind of sad).
That said, working as a freelance front-end developer is NOT cool. I loathe to go into a long discussion about why, but, suffice to say, insane hours, constant deadlines, high-burnout, and a market full of the lowest-bidders makes for a pretty miserable “career”.
Of course, writing is my career – but, to borrow the words of my late father: money is a motherfucker.
Ironically, my father did essentially the same thing I do “for a living”; I googled him recently and came across his linkedin profile, which, reads almost exactly as my own did (Before I deleted mine in the interest of my writing).
My father died nearly blind from staring at a screen for years, and – it might be said – penniless from the same.
I recall a line from a Kerouac interview in The Paris Review, in which he said, “All writers have tragic fathers.” I’m not calling my father tragic per se, so much as I’m saying that my following in his footsteps is.
If I had a magic wand, the bills would all be paid some other way, and I would do nothing that didn’t contribute to my wholeness; unfortunately, I am not in that position – I’ve got an insane amount of work to do, and doing it is only going to pay the bills, maybe give me a few hours to spend with holiday houseguests this week. In short, my life is pretty owned by obligation.
It was to that end that Sarah and I moved to the mountains: that’s the thing about living at 7,500 feet – there aren’t many well-paying jobs, which makes things much more affordable than in the city, where average incomes are much higher.
That said, if you work remotely and are sufficiently introverted and or private, it’s – in my opinion – a far more fulfilling way of life compared to city living (Particularly if you are living in a big city beneath the upper-middle class level).
The mountains aren’t the problem. We love it here. Our house is a paradise, and I would be hard pressed to find something more affordable; however, front-end web development doesn’t pay well enough for me to work part-time, particularly as Sarah isn’t working at present – as I said, obligation.
I worked twenty-six hours straight last week attempting to meet a deadline. Add that to everything explained above, and you can get a slight picture of the existential demands on my life at thirty-two. Couple that with two novellas in prog and enough novels in my head for ten years of HBO money, and you can understand pretty much the whole picture.
Money is a motherfucker. But, it’s not money I’m after: it’s freedom.
Frankly, my situation isn’t all that unique – the struggling artist is a reality – what I’m banking on is my talent being unique.
It may take ten years, but I know it doesn’t have to.
Yes, my week is fucked work-wise, but my life isn’t. And November may be difficult, and December may not be easy, but I WILL GET THERE.
The thing is, I have to write this, to live this – to get there. And there isn’t anywhere but where I can write.
But to get there, I have to look life in the face. I have to reconcile the outer and the inner realities of myself in order to pierce the fictions of my thinking and uncover the unconscious contents driving the illusions that paralyze and enslave me. I have to face it all to destroy the idea that I am trapped. Then, I’ll be free.
Now that it’s all been put down, I can let it go, safe in the knowledge that everything that is, can be everything that was.
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