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Note to Self

February 25, 2010

Today’s post is going to be mostly for me, to be honest. Feel free to read it, but it probably won’t be funny or sarcastic or anything. You might want to just reread one of my older posts instead, “Piss ‘n’ Chat,” maybe, or “One’s for the Chicken Poo.” Something with some substance.

Moritura te salutat:

You are able to write this at 3:30 p.m. on a Thursday because you don’t have a job. You’ve applied for 25 jobs in eight weeks, jobs for which you are more than qualified, and you haven’t gotten so much as an interview. You have no income whatsoever; you can’t apply for EI because you chose to leave your (casual, part-time) job in Calgary and come out to Vancouver to do this creative writing program. This morning, you received an e-mail which informed you that you are not needed for a volunteer position you applied for two months ago. You can’t even get a gig petting stray cats for two hours a week. You are a real piece of work, my friend.

Hear this: coming here to this city that so far wants no part of your existence was, beyond question, the right decision. Writing is your future. It is. You know it and everyone who knows you knows it. It doesn’t matter which of the pointless day jobs you end up getting, the 39th or the 101st or whatever, who cares. They’re all exactly the same and you’d be equally good at all of them and hate them all with equal fervor. The pointless day job is irrelevant and it’s not what you came for. You are kicking maximum ass at what you did come for, and the amount of ass-kicking is going to increase with every passing month, and eventually, writing is going to be your profession, and in the meantime, don’t let the stress and uncertainty of where you are distract you from the fact of where you’re clearly and obviously going. This city will come to know your name. You will earn its respect. That’s the future. Make it happen, Cap’n.

Recently, you were an almost comically successful graduate student. You won every goddamned award you applied for. You earned well over $100,000 in scholarships in six years. You were a fucking shark. You chose to leave that life because it did not feel the way it looked. You chose to leave it before it destroyed your character and burned your passions and aspirations to the ground. You chose to do the honest thing even though it was the hardest thing. You are more intelligent, more friendly, more confident, and more courageous now than you were three years ago. It doesn’t matter if an HR department or a hiring manager can’t see that. You can see it, and it’s your life and your humanity. You’re a better writer today, and you’re a better person. Money is a practical necessity, but you know it has no bearing on the value of a soul: for god’s sake, you’ve read Plato’s Gorgias in the original fucking language. Don’t regret the past, and don’t idealize it. It was wonderful in some ways and hideous in others, it gave and it took, it served its purpose, and now it’s over.

You are, for all intents and purposes, alone. This is plainly true and it always has been, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, despite the opinions of society in general and certain people in particular. It’s the result of a combination of factors. You have little to no control over most of them. Isolation is not synonymous with inferiority, and alone does not imply lonely. As a writer, it’s entirely to your advantage to maintain a generous stockpile of solitary hours. But aloneness has certain consequences. One is that it’s all you out there, emotionally and financially. Maybe you’ll have a partner some day, but don’t bank on it. If you can’t hack it, if you lose a job or can’t find one, if you write something that sucks and people quit reading you, there’s no one to pick up the slack while you pull yourself together. Same deal if – no: when – the idiosyncrasies of your biochemistry gain the upper hand over your unceasing vigilance and contrived stoicism. No one’s holding your hand in the night. Hold your own. Take care of yourself.

Relatedly: the medical consensus is that these features of your personality, the introversion and the need for nearly constant solitude, among others, are a result of irreparable hardwiring glitches. Accept them. They are a part of your fate. That said, you are not a feral cat. Don’t let anyone treat you like one, (ir)regardless of his or her good intentions. You know there’s nothing less relevant than the author’s intention. An interesting, if irritating, fact about human beings is that they tend to see extroversion as healthy and positive and introversion as a defect that requires correction and ceaseless critical commentary. All this bullshit about the necessity of bringing people out of their shell, out of the box, out of themselves: ignore it. You don’t owe ebullience to anyone. You are polite, interesting, funny, intelligent, and industrious, and you are going to publish hundreds of kickass things, believe you me, and that is more than enough. More than. It’s been proven to you a thousand times that the people who deserve a place in your life always find a way in.

People keep asking you what your plan is. Fair enough. Feel free to quote them the following line from a well-known intellectual film: As it stands right now, the plan is to just keep on givin’ ‘er.

Cura ut valeas,


2 Comments leave one →
  1. bignobody permalink
    February 26, 2010 3:11 am

    jaysus if i had a nickel’s worth of your writing talent i would scream and scribble my thanksgiving to the gods continually. as it is, i have almost none whatsoever, so i have to take my pleasures reading the funny shit people like you write. your blog is worth wads of cash, despite what gw says to the right. keep it up keep it up keep it up.

    • Kate permalink*
      February 26, 2010 8:34 pm

      Wow, a Superfan! Always exciting. I like to believe that you guys are like cockroaches, and for every one I see, there are 50 I don’t. Not that I’m calling you a cockroach; that wasn’t the point of the analogy at all. I appreciate the encouragement, and you can rest assured that up is exactly where I plan on keeping it.

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