Sunday, July 26, 2015

Doing It Because I Can’t Not Do It

       In 2007 I earned my BA in Literature Writing (aka Creative Writing) from Columbia University’s School for General Studies. I was working as an editorial assistant at the Journal of Orthopaedic Research based out of the Hospital for Special Surgery and chose to keep that good paying part time job and use the paycheck to subsidize my fiction-writing. I then picked up another part time editorial assistant gig as well as a part time editorial coordinator for an online wellness-based series of websites. And, somehow, with three part time, non-writing jobs bringing in the bacon, I found time to write.
       I have had six stories published since then and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2011. I didn’t make it into the anthology and I’ve never been paid for any of my stories. Writing short stories isn’t what keeps Sallie Mae from garnishing my wages. Part time work that I didn’t hate and that didn’t hog up all my time paid the bills and allowed me the luxury of making up stories. This plan worked pretty well up to a point.
       In 2013 I was given a year’s notice that my position at the JOR was being eliminated. That other editorial assistant position had been a five-year gig that ended in 2012. Then the editorial coordinator position turned into a straight up contract job with a corresponding drop in pay. Since July 2014, I have been astonishingly lucky that my partner in art, life, and crime (artist AleXander Hirka) has a steady, decent paying, stable job as I have been through at least half a dozen crappy little jobs and a couple of real fairy tale good ones in that time.
       I didn’t plan a career change, but last summer I got a $15 per hour job at an immigration law firm down in the financial district seeking a creative writer to draft and revise letters for artists of extraordinary abilities seeking to enter the US on O-1B visas. Four law firms later, I find myself writing for a living. The current employer is an immigration law firm fourteen blocks from where we live in Harlem. I go up and review cases, lug the various evidence back here and write. And write. And write! I love the work; it’s challenging and satisfying and just hard enough to do that I feel a real sense of accomplishment.
But. Yeah, but. I haven’t had the time or juice to write a single story all year. Who knows when I will have that luxury again. Writing up these cases, compiling evidence into a compelling case for actors, creative directors, comedic writers, and an enormous array of young talented people from all over the world sort of scratches the itch. But not quite.
       AleXander suggested that I get my own work up here on our long-neglected blog on a regular basis and that is just brilliant. So here’s the plan: On Sundays going forward, I’m going to write something. Movie reviews, random observations, letters I never intend to send, whatever and combine it with AleXander’s art to keep the Anomalous Duo creating and trying new things and not stagnating. 
       Earning a living by writing is a rare and amazing opportunity that can also easily kill the gift of wonder, curiosity, and creation. I thank AleXander for setting up this blog in the first place and nudging me to get back to my own work. Stay tuned! A number of friends follow our blog and will get updates. Go on, sign up. See what we come up with this year!

"The Night Plays Tricks", a "portrait" of T. Remington by AleXander Hirka.