Steel Toes = Creativity?

I posted a message to Worth about quitting the psychic biz. And while I'm, how do you say... pissed about having to go back into the real world to earn a buck, I fully admit it's my own damned fault.

Sort of.

See, sitting here at the computer all day, waiting for new questions to come in and worrying when they don't; writing what feels like the equivalent of farting at the keyboard; getting paid less for this than I would make if I just mowed lawns on the weekends... well, it's been creatively draining. Very.

In all the years I've been working, the only jobs I've enjoyed have been creative ones. Some jobs I've managed to make more bearable by finding ways to bring some amount of creativity to them. Working with wood is one of those, probably because I was trained for it on the job rather than at a school, meaning whenever I get a woodworking job I'm always flying by the seat of my pants. But I'm learning something along the way, which is the flip-side of the creativity coin. And it isn't mentally taxing, so I can still create inside while swinging a hammer.

After 37 years, I think I should just face the fact that I'm only happy when I'm creating. Writing isn't the only way I create, mind you, but it's the most satisfying for me, which is why I'm subjecting you to so many words instead of a bunch of poorly framed photos or fractals only I think are neat. I love creating, and I love writing most of all.

The thing is, since I started the psycho job all the creativity has been sapped from my body. Before this, I did pretty well as a writer. Before this, I would spend hours writing every day. Before this, if I didn't write, I'd make a pretty fractal, or compose a lousy tune, or carve a piece of wood. Whatever it took, I was compelled to get the ideas that were in me out of me. Before this, I actually had ideas. Before this, I was motivated.

For the past few years I haven't been motivated enough even to doodle at the phone. No creativity. None. This psychic crap tapped me right out. My manuscripts have been sitting on a backup CD for three years. My unfinished articles are now dated and unsalable. My editors no longer remember me. I uninstalled my art programs two years ago. I've made four lousy Photoshop entries in the past year and a few avatars. I've written one text entry in the past twelve months.


And I know it's because of this stupid psychic job. The stress has been building since the number of questions dropped from a flood to a trickle. But even when they were flooding in I wasn't being creative, I was just less stressed about money. Something about churning out "psychic readings" completely broke my spirit. Maybe an architect assembling bicycles at a Wal-Mart or an artist painting fences for a living would understand. Not that those jobs are lowly; they're just not what someone trained otherwise would enjoy. The equation changed from Writing=Creating to Writing=Drudgery.

Okay, I guess it's my own damned fault either way. It's not like I didn't know going into it that the job description was "churn out as much pap as you can." And I knew what that sort of thing does to a person who hates churning out pap. I just chose to forget that last part because, you know, the money was good.

I did write a lot in the Worth forums. Some would say I wrote far too much. Whatever the case, that felt creative. Please don't think I'm tooting my own horn, because I'm not, but the forum-junk I wrote was mostly well received and even (to the more disturbed among you) funny. I got off on having an appreciative audience and instant feedback, and I kept writing. Your willingness to read my impossible-straw ramblings or to trade barbs with me kept me going. It's the only creative outlet I've had for years, though the creativity lay in the presentation more than anything else. Writing about a sigmoidoscopy isn't creative. Making a sigmoidoscopy sound funny is. So, for your positive feedback, I thank you. I may not have the time to hang out as much as I have been, but it's still the only site on the net worth visiting as far as I'm concerned, so I won't disappear.

Maybe, just maybe, kicking the sham-psychic game is a good thing in disguise. Maybe I can find a job I can leave at work after my shift. Maybe I'll even have some energy left over at the end of the day to, you know, create something. This depression thing brings with it some wild mood swings, but when I'm not longing for a rope and a tall tree I sometimes feel rather optimistic about restarting my writing career. I'm actually thinking about digging out the old manuscripts and starting some new ones. I actually have plots going through my head again. I actually have some article ideas I might pitch in a couple of months once I've dug us out of this money hole we're in.

Am I excited? No, not yet. There's a lot to do before I reach that point. But I see a tiny bit of silver lining peeking through. I feel just a smidgen of creativity seeping into my brain.

Or maybe I'm just farting at my keyboard again. It's hard to tell. I've been lying to idiots on the other end of the hotline for so long I'm not even sure I know how to be honest with myself anymore. But maybe....

Keep reading. Maybe I'll actually get back into the game and get some fiction published this time. If so, you can bet I'll mention it. Maybe you'll be able to watch me overachieve for once. :D


New link

Well, it's new to me, anyway. LosdaBear's blog.


King Gyanendra of Nepal

I don't know enough about politics in to have an opinion on King Gyanendra's recent actions there. But I know I love this picture of him.


I smoke. It's okay to hate me.

zealotry drives me nuts. I don't have a problem with educating the public. I don't have a problem with the legislation, either, though they should just stop beating around the bush and make smoking illegal. I'm sure they would if they weren't earning billions of dollars in sin-taxes.

Yeah, smoking's bad. No argument from me. Sure it's rotten for you. You won't ever hear me saying otherwise. Though I'm not as convinced about the dangers of second-hand smoke as a lot of people are, I'm open to the idea.

No, what angers me is that it's considered more and more acceptable to treat smokers like second-class citizens. The PSAs I'm seeing these days are powerful (which is great), but they're starting to cross the line from educational to alarmist to judgemental. Stupid.ca is an Ontario government sponsored site. There's a STUPID TV and print campaign going on right now. It says on the site that their PSAs are "a social commentary on the choice to smoke or not to smoke... not meant to be an insult to smokers, smokers aren't stupid."

Uh huh.

Watch the ads. If you're a smoker, their 'social commentary' sure comes across as accusatory, prejudiced and self-righteous. It's crap, just >this< far from inciting disgust and hatred toward smokers. Don't believe me? Watch the ads.

My favorite is one they don't have online: It starts with a dog dropping a load in the grass. After it's done a young girl enters the scene and starts rolling herself in it. She stands up, covered in dog shit, even on her face, and says "How many kids would go out of their way to smell like crap? So why do they make themselves smell this way by smoking?"

(I'm not making this up!)

Mmmm. Edgy. Attention grabbing. Maybe she could have rolled in curry and made her point about Indian families. That wouldn't offend anyone, would it? Hey, it's just a spice. Indians themselves aren't being judged here, just their diet. I've heard that argument from bigoted coworkers. This is part of why I prefer working at home.

Fuck you, Ontario government.

Address the issue, don't insult the people! Make it illegal and shut down the damned tobacco companies if you're that concerned for my health. Don't go attacking me on TV and suggesting that it's okay to tsk tsk and turn your heads away when you pass me by.

Would you treat a drinker the same way you treat a smoker? Or is drinking just peachy as long as you don't drive afterward. I mean, who would judge you for having a cold beer after mowing the lawn?

Sure, alcohol can kill you a million different ways. Sure, it's mind-altering to the point where it becomes permanently debilitating if you do too much of it too often. Sure, it costs the healthcare system just as much whether you die from drinking-related heart disease, stroke, cancer or cirrhosis as it does when similar health problems are brought on by smoking. Sure, 4% of the global burden of disease is attributable to alcohol, compared with 4.1% to tobacco and 4.4% to high blood pressure. Sure, assholes are more likely to come home and beat their children after a drinking binge than after a night of heavy smoking.

But do you treat drinkers as second class citizens? I'm not talking about bleary-eyed alcoholics, just plain drinkers. Do you wrinkle your nose and make a little "I'm disgusted by you" face when you walk past some guy drinking wine in a restaurant like you do when you pass by some guy smoking outside the doors at a mall?

I didn't think so.

Make those faces at the tobacco companies that sell the crap. Make those faces at your government, which points a damning finger at smokers with one hand while emptying their wallets with the other. But don't make those faces at me just because it's fashionable to look down on smokers. Because, no matter who you are, I can find something about you which was once fashionable to look down upon, too. And fashions come back all the time.

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