Feeding an Anorexic Soul

Posted: September 23, 2013 in McTrip posts
Tags: , , , , , ,

writing art 2Writing this blog gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I won’t go so far as to say it’s saving my life, but it’s very likely restoring my sanity.

And I owe it all to Life Coach Laura. It was in her office where she and I collided at the intersection of “Ah-Ha!” and “That’s it!” The fix for most of my mid-life confusion became clear to us in unison: I needed to start writing again. Even if I never earned another plug nickel doing it. Because it might very well be the long-sought-after answer to the question: What do I want to do? What is my passion? What is my purpose?

And now I know. It’s to write. Again.

Background: For 11 years I was a reporter/writer for various publications, writing about everything from cockfighting to crochet (yes, I’ve penned stories on both). In the mid ‘90s I bailed because it seemed print journalism was dying a slow death and it turns out I was right. So the last article I was paid to write was 18 years ago. Seems so long ago it might as well have been chiseled on granite.

When the economy tanked and I was looking for alternative revenue sources friends would ask why I wasn’t looking into writing. My answer was always the same, “Because I’m a dinosaur. I haven’t been published since the FIRST Iraq War.” Looking to get hired with my yellowing newspaper clips was like a photographer looking for work with Polaroids.

I haven’t kept a journal in years, either. Not since an ex-lover found them, read them, and started quizzing me about the content. In other words, in the last 17 years I haven’t written anything more than a ball-busting email.

The truth is, I never gave myself permission to write because I thought it was fruitless as a profession and a waste of time personally. I felt I should be doing something more productive with my time. Then came the “Shazam!” moment with Laura.
writing2 art
“You need to feed your soul,” she said to me. “Writing for you could be food for your soul. And your soul is starving. You’ve neglected it. Go feed it!”

Hey, Coach! I think we stumbled on something here.

So I started writing about stuff I was dealing with: middle age, post-Great Recession, identity, meaning, purpose, suicide, feeling marginalized and minimalized, sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll. Fun stuff like that. And the floodgates just opened up. It’s sometimes hard for me to stop writing. I go on morning runs and the ideas start coming so fast I can’t wait to get back to the computer. So I run faster.

The end result has been the birth of this blog and I’m blown away by how it’s changed my life. And how people are responding to it. Their unsolicited feedback (which has been universally positive) sometimes brings me close to tears.

I keep waiting for my really, really smart friends and my writer friends to tell me “Stop doing this. Stop writing. Go back into real estate. There’s no room for you here.” They’re people who would be blunt and honest (and kind). But they’ve been extremely supportive of, and excited by, my stuff. They say things like, “Don’t stop! Keep going. You’ve got something here. This may be ‘you’.” Their comments fills me with joy.

So, what started as a way to freshen up my portfolio by publishing a blog has turned into this thing that other people are relating to. It must be how a new comedian feels, on stage for the first time, when he makes a roomful of people laugh.

More importantly, the bigger picture here is that this blog might just be the beginning of something lasting and meaningful, careerwise. Yes, I’ve decided to take another stab at making money writing. And I don’t need to make a lot of money. I’m setting a goal to make $1,000 a month writing, by a year from now.Yeah, that’s an annual salary of just $12,000– less than what I made when I was a full-time reporter in the late ‘80s.

But it’s no longer about the money. It’s about being happy about who I am and what I’m doing. It’s about sustenance and never-again extravagance. It’s about having an identity that’s real, an identity I love. And a life that’s meaningful.

(To be continued…)

  1. Doreen says:

    Hey Jay

    I am so excited to see your blog pop up in my email and LOVE it!

    You have a talent for writing – always have and I could not be happier that it energizes you. In cleaning out my parents house I found this book called “Half Time.” A few things I really connected with from the book were these quotes:

    I want to do work that adds energy to my life, not that which takes energy away.

    As you begin to dream new dreams, the spark begins to ignite, you get excited, animated and you start to feel young again.

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Jennifer Jensen says:

    I’m so happy for you J – keep up the good work!

  3. You are a gifted writer and I hope it brings you the $1000 and more…as the cathartic process is priceless!

  4. stvrsnbrgr says:

    Don’t stop. I’ve only got eight more months of your blog posts lined up, and I’d rather not run out of em.

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