Sunday, May 18, 2008

Numbers or letters

The comments on my last post were pretty interesting. Mainly they hit upon what really is one of the biggest challenges that I have had to deal with my entire life, which is the fact that what I am passionate for doesn’t match up with my natural skills.

I do have a natural affinity for numbers. I am just a born and bred quant guy. As a kid not only did I run simulations of sports seasons but I kept detailed statistical records. I can look at numbers on a page or a screen and understand how they all interact and what they mean. I can’t explain how or why that is. It really is just how my brain is wired. Numbers and logic just make sense to me.

But that doesn’t mean that it is something I am passionate. True, I do enjoy working with numbers but not if it is just working for working’s sake. That’s why I’m not an accountant. I would get to spend all day with spreadsheets and debits and credits and numbers in columns summing up to predictable totals but I can do that for about a week before I get bored silly. It’s too repetitive and too uncreative. I prefer to work with numbers where there is some creativity involved in how to use them and interpret them with the focus more on the back end. Which is where the big difficulty arises.

See, at my heart I view myself as a very creative person. I’d prefer to be a writer or a historian, some field where coming up with new ways to explain something is the key. While writing the blog is essentially a cheap form of therapy writing in general is one of my favorite pastimes. Not much can beat the high you get when you write something amazing and realize that no one has ever written this before. That’s only matched by having someone read your work and tell you that it touched them.

So why don’t I just become a writer? It’s a very tough question for me to address. I do think I have the natural talent to be one. My grammar is worse than it should be but that is more because of the fact that I don’t edit or proofread than anything. In terms of creativity and the ability to turn a phrase I think I can stand on my own. There are just two problems that I face. The first is that the amount of dedication required to truly be a writer is daunting. It is not just a few hours in a coffee shop. It is a full time job spent staring at a screen wondering if what you are doing makes any sense at all. The other problem is that even if I am talented and even if I dedicate myself fully to being a writer and give it every ounce of determination that I have in my body there is no guarantee that I will be successful. I’m not talking Stephen King successful. I’m talking getting someone I don’t know to pay me for something I wrote.

And that sadly is an issue in my mind with what I am going to do next. I mentioned this to Foodie today but I really do think it is true. One of the reasons that I have been successful in my life is that I don’t put myself in positions where I can fail. I know that I can do numbers so I take number related jobs that I could perform in my sleep or hungover or possibly both. Writing isn’t one of those professions. I might love it, it might give my life meaning, but I just don’t know if I can have success at it.

Maybe that is really shallow thinking on my part. That I’ll put aside my personal happiness just so I can have a few symbols of exterior success. It’s even odder given that most people know that money really isn’t a driving factor for me. I’d much rather know that I am making a beneficial impact on the world than be rich. I’d just like to be well off. I know that it is going to be difficult, if not impossible, to find an inspiring, life-affirming job that pays well. Doesn’t mean that I’m not going to try.

I’m never going to stop writing. I’ll always be looking for a way to make this a bigger and bigger part of my life. I have so many stories to tell and I have a view of the world that I think is important to make known. I can’t be a lead singer or a director or a painter but I can write. It might not be what I call my career but it will always be a part of my life. That is probably more important.

Best of 120 Minutes: Found this on YouTube and thought that since The Cure are playing in town tomorrow night I might as well post Dinosaur Jr. covering The Cure. It’s slightly less goth, which is a good thing.

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