I’m fighting the urge to just lie down down and die. Fighting the urge because I have to, not because I want to. Though, in some small aspects, I want a job. But the need is so much stronger. I need a job. I need a job with benefits. I need a job with some security. I need a job.
Don’t Worry, This Won’t be a Political Post
I worked odd, short jobs. From a door-to-door salesman to the clubhouse manager for a local baseball team. Hell, I even wrote porn at one time. And all those jobs were swell. They gave me money I could use when I wanted to spend something. On occasion, I still write posts for Blogvertise – not here, of course, but on Tumblr and the book blog.
But the hand I was dealt this year changes all that. There’s a certain amount of responsibility bestowed on me and I’ve got to get cracking. So I did what any prospecting job hunter would do. I churned out applications, uploaded resumes and hunted for good references.
A week later, I’ve got nothing to show for it. And it depresses me.
Only I Lied
And what makes me nervous about my lack of finding a job – one that uses skills I learned in either school or manual labor work – is that we’re drawing near the election year. And while I know Obama has made some progress – not enough to actually mean anything to the GOP – I fear that messiah – formerly known as Rick “the dick” Perry – might win, which means that the job market will crash, burn and the economy will cease to exist. I mean, just look at all he’s accomplished with Texas after George W. Bush stepped down.
And while Mitt Romney seems like the best candidate – is the best candidate, I should say – everyone in the Republican and Tea Parties are looking at Rick Perry as if he’s some Second Coming – which he is, just not the kind they’re hoping for.
So What’s a Former Freelance Writer/Contractor/Work-for-Hire/English Major to do?
Not give up, obviously. Like my mother said, I’m a survivor. No matter the obstacle thrown at me, I manage to come out of it unscathed. I figure things out; I adapt. The only problem is, that doesn’t seem to go anywhere on the application or resume. Adaptation isn’t a skill that doesn’t raise a couple of eyebrows. Neither is writing, apparently. At least, not in the Valley, outside a rather corrupt newspaper.
Still, I tumble on. Trying and defying those who get in my way. Wish me luck.
I started some hoopla on my Tumblr when I stated that writers are readers. And the argument blew out of proportion, but I never take these things seriously. In fact, half the times I argue with people online, I do it in stride because people who argue on the internet are, well, idiots. On my side, it’s all in jest and the more they get angrier, the louder I laugh.
However, I stand by my claim that writers are readers because it’s not only what I’ve been taught, but it’s only clear as day. That’s not to say people who don’t read aren’t writers, the world does need their Stephenie Meyers,* right? But a good (or as I like to say, real) writer, must learn the craft from somewhere. Because writers learn from example, which means writers learn from other writers and, therefore, writers are readers. A writer who doesn’t enjoy reading is simply kidding himself – or pulling the wool over our eyes.
I would like to go on to write a list of things – philosophies seems too big of a word – on how to manage to become a decent writer. But that’s for next time, mostly because I haven’t written the list out and I’d rather not wing it like I’m doing with this post. I will also dig through my notes – yes, I still have my college notes – to aid me to better design a short list of tips. If there’s time, I will e-mail/contact on social networks old mentors – creative writing professors and fellow writers – for their advice on the list. In the end, however, the ones that make it on the list are the ones that I agree most with.
*In no way can I legally or factually claim that Stephenie Meyer never picked up a book in her life. I made this comment in jest and I expect you to take it as such. Why I even have to add this disclaimer, I don’t know. I just fear that a gaggle of twelve-year-olds will swarm my blog with angry comments about the only book series they’ve managed to read. With that in mind, I will only expect comments from angry twelve-year-olds. If you’re an angry adult leaving me nasty remarks, I will have assume there is something socially and mentally wrong with you for reading novels for twelve-year-olds and enjoying them.
It’s a little pretentious of me to call myself a writer, which is why I usually note that I’m a reader who happens to write. Though, doesn’t that define a writer? Anyone who states they are a writer but don’t like reading is a poseur and should be stripped for their pen and paper immediately. Writers read to learn, to understand the trade, to better themselves. They draft countless times before they’re ready. Those who hate reading are probably cursed with Jack Kerouac‘s “first draft, best draft” idealism. Well, I got news for them: You’re no Jack Kerouac.
If anything, I think of myself as a storyteller. Not only because I’m in love with dying arts – except journalism, but that’s because you all brought it upon yourselves for filling up columns with bullshit – but because of the first storyteller I met, my grandfather. The name Guillermo Pequeño wouldn’t ring any bells unless you lived in Donna, Texas back in the sixties, during the year he was responsible for growing the first bale of cotton. He was a hardworking man who taught me that it was important to believe in what you did and work hard for what you have.
Like most grandfathers, mine stated he met Poncho Villa – whether he sought him out or rode with him depends on what version of the story you heard. But the one that stuck with me was the story of the man without a face, which I’ve adapted into a Lovecraftian tale a few years ago. My grandfather didn’t write any of his tales down, and I was too young to even think of memorizing all of them.
If anything, my grandfather is responsible for my obsession with books. While I never saw him once pick up a book in his life, during the short years that I knew him – and from my recollection, the only book in the house was an over sized, Spanish-translated Bible that acted more like a living room center piece and a set of outdated encyclopedias written in English – his storytelling led me to the world of literature. Starting off like many kids do, I read everything in popular culture. I hid away in these fictional world to hide from the ugly – later, when I matured, the worlds I’d turn to would start looking more like the one I left behind. Whenever I write something – well, something serious, anyway – it’s his voice that I seek within my mind. It’s a fading memory. I can still trace his features in my head, the rough five-o’clock shadow of his face, his worker hands when shook would only offer a tight grip that you tried to get away from. But his voice, I cannot remember unless I shut out all other thoughts.
Even now as I’m typing this, I imagine the hulk of his body standing behind me. Eyes scanning the screen of a computer, wondering why I’m doing this. “It’s because of you,” I’ll say.
I officially became an English major eight years ago when I entered college, but I believe I was one before that – excuse the grammatical errors here, I rarely even check my blogs, these are just streams of consciousness to get the muck out and the gears turning. Like any young romantic, I was churning out poems ever since I could remember. They were bad, of course; although they garnered a lot of attention from the female population – heaven knows why as nothing amounted from their love for whatever I spewed out.
My focus in my college days was American literature – preferably contemporary, but you don’t get to have it your way, even in college – and creative writing. At the beginning, there was only one creative writing course – not class, course – taught by a few professors. Originally, I wanted to take my only class with José Skinner but wound up taking it with René Saldaña, Jr. instead. Not that René wasn’t as good as Skinner, I just liked the way Skinner taught, having taken American Novel with him the semester before.
In Saldaña’s class, I called upon my grandfather to help me write the more serious tales like “David,” which was published a year later in UTPA‘s literary magazine, Gallery, in which I was an honorary mention. In the tale “When Rain Means Death,” I mixed my knowledge of pop culture with that of my grandfather’s voice, creating what I know now as my own voice.
That following summer, I enrolled in the Creative Writing Institute that UTPA held – still does as far as I know – where the guest writer was a man named Richard Yañez. “Reading Nietzsche Naked” was the piece I worked on, though it was called “Teeth,” or something like that then. With the help of both instructors/mentors and a class of would-be writers, I managed to capture my own voice and use it with force.
The English department added more creative writing courses, which I signed up for, by the end of my college career. I took them with José Skinner and Emmy Perez. They taught me what they could, and I adhered to what made sense to me. I make use of my knowledge when I do write, which is rare these days.
I joined several poetry/short story circles in the area, even started one as people turned to me for the next move. I’ve been called a staple in the poetry community by one fellow writer, though the modest side of me states there are far more important people out there who are overlooked and ignored, whose thunder was stolen by others who mimicked them, stole their ideas. I’ve made friends and I’ve made enemies. And I’ve even gone into hiding, waiting to make my next move in the creative community. They’ll do just fine without me, and they’ll greet me when I do resurface again, with new material and thoughts.
And I think one of my many reasons for wanting to join an MFA program – be it the one offered at UTPA or any other college that would have me – is the need to have others hear my stories, and the urge to aid others find their voices. I may become a writer one day, or I may become an agent, an editor (Krist forbid!) or I might head into the publishing world. For now, I am content on being a storyteller.