Life may not begin at 40, but it's an excellent time to consider a second (or third, or fourth) act. Is there something you've always wanted to do? Something you were scared to try, because you'd be devastated if you failed? Take a deep breath and go for it. Trust me: it's way more satisfying than buying a convertible.
To many people with depression, Sadness is a physical place, and I'm someone who lived there for many years and was able to make the journey back. That's why reading this book, by Anne Theriault of The Belle Jar Blog, resonates with me so much. Everyone's experience is different, but the depths of depression are pretty much the same no matter how you get there.
If you plan to work in the movie business you must accept that everyone lies and it's normal behaviour and your job is to figure out what they really mean. Richard Price once said, " 'Thank you,' in Hollywood, means 'You're fired'." It is my experience, the studios said "Thank you," but the producers said nothing.
You will always be a woman first and a writer second. When people refer to you, they will call you a "woman writer," or "feminist writer," or some other variation on that theme. There will always be some kind of qualifier added. When a man says flattering things about your writing, you will always be left wondering whether it is your work that interests him, or the fact that you are young, conventionally attractive and female. Most frequently it will be the former, but still, you can never shake off the fear that you are not so much talented as you are naïve and pretty. You often feel as if you are only valuable in so much as men desire to sleep with you.
In school, students are taught how to "write" by memorizing or borrowing material then regurgitating it in order to impress a teacher. That's not what this is about. This is about words, in the professional sense, that must be used sparingly and for an economic purpose, whether it's to communicate with colleagues, customers, partners, investors, society, voters or organizations.
My university Creative Writing teacher once said something that felt like it was directed at me. She said something along the lines of how the young kid in the classroom who is always staring off into space or out the window, lost in her/his thoughts, is not the bad student, he/she is simply the writer of the bunch. It helped me to move past years of self-doubt and anger. I wasn't stupid. I was a writer.
Just in case you missed the first trillion times I mentioned it: giving birth was really hard. Now I am about to give birth again. This time, to a book. In some ways, giving birth to a book is harder than giving birth to a baby. Everyone loves your human baby because it's an innocent party in all of this. But many will hate your paper baby, because you made it, and you suck.
My seven-year-old son struggles to put pencil to paper. Even with all the encouragement I could muster, completing his Grade 2 writing homework often reduced Gavin to tears. The assignments were miserable for both of us, and often took much of the weekend. Then, one day in April, it actually happened.
Roger Ebert was an honest critic. He was there for the movies. How many others can say the same? At the end, he became as big as the actors and directors he profiled. He was the Trailer before all the trailers. He was the Internet before the web. He was TV when it was still television. Something about him was more familiar and more popular than his co-hosts. Something about his opinion mattered to you. So, I'll say it again, because I really mean it...RIP Roger Ebert. Nobody was better.
When I started blogging over seven years ago, I was doing it purely because I liked to write. Obviously my attitude changed. One of the first inklings I had that I was on the wrong path with this blog business was when I hired a social media intern. She was reviewing all that we did, and was quick to point out that my blog looked "shitty." Her words, not mine.
I was born with a cleft-lip, endured a series of serious illnesses and prolonged abuse. My father was an alcoholic who had heart disease. He died when I was nine years old. Thankfully early on I discovered writing and reading. It provided me with a reprieve from my troubled thoughts and a means of expression that extends beyond superficial appearances.
Literary writing is a worthless profession. Few who write novels, stories and poems make a living from them. This has been true for millennia. Lately the Internet has regressed into a society of feudal manors lorded over by tech giants like Amazon, Apple and Yahoo, who sell e-books for 99 cents or give them away for free. Their "competitive pricing" is threatening traditional publishers and physical books with extinction.
When I asked my son who just returned from a canoe trip was a Lilly Dipper was he said, "It's when you just dip the paddle in and skim the surface without moving the water to push the canoe forward." Of course my "life as business metaphor" brain kicked in. "I know some people like that," I said. And sadly, some of them have never been in a canoe.
I like the fact that my career field is on the worst list. It gives me drive to prove CareerCast.com and the other journalism haters wrong. It motivates me to constantly come up with new ideas, and learn how to be flexible so I can thrive in different work environments that will undergo a lot of changes in the next 50 years.