21st Century Brontë #10 by Brontë Bettencourt
The Money Problem, Part 2
I kept telling myself that I could handle whatever my job throws at me. This work was not, technically, what I graduated college for, but ultimately this would be a secure, if random stepping stone on my path to publishing stories. This job paid the bills. I would be letting a lot of people down if I crumbled. I was afraid of disappointing my excellent peers at this job, who always seemed so polished and apt at the game of social interaction.
In one of my creative writing workshops back at the University of Central Florida, the professor said something that stuck with me ever since:
“Some writers don’t make it, not because they don’t have the skill or the drive, but because they love people too much.”
Writing is a selfish, solitary activity, despite its goal of making readers feel less alone. It is disappearing into the crevices of my mind with these extensions of my personality, entering the world on occasion to beg for feedback, like nourishment.
But I’ve never had a knack for isolating myself. As a kid I was always on the phone. In high school I would come home and toy with the idea of completing homework while either dungeon-crawling in World of Warcraft or creating stories with friends online. In college there were clubs, work, and classes.
Post-college, it’s been the standard 9-5, complete with a home-cooked meal and a boyfriend to cuddle with. My job deals with companies and representatives across the continental United States. With someone always needing to speak to me via email or phone call, I was never truly alone.
I’ve decided to leave this job.
Fortunately, my prior employer offered me enough hours (20-30 a week) at a coffee shop to take care of essentials, ultimately giving me time to focus.
I’d like to think walking away from a secure job makes me a stronger person. I would like to think I’m not making a mistake by forsaking a standard day job, ousting a potential career path before it could blossom. I’ve committed myself to delaying having a place of my own. I share rent and living space with my boyfriend and two other roommates. I’m overcome with insecurities of somehow fucking up my 20s, because now is apparently the time to lay the foundations for a house, for marriage, and… children?
That’s what my mother did, at least. She took care of me, my grandpa, and our two dogs. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, studying way into the early hours of the morning before a computer she taught herself to use. All of this was achieved, not through her passion for art, but with a solid 9-5 job as a litigation paralegal. By no means does she regret her decisions, but it did come with a cost.
I had a secure upbringing because she was so selfless, so there is a part of me that believes that the lack of security is what fuels my own ambitions.
Meanwhile, I flounder at the thought of eating because that is another deterrent from productivity. An entire day can pass, fruitless, as I devour entire seasons of shows on Netflix. I’m either emotionally detached or reeling from experiencing too many feelings simultaneously.
Did my mother have to be reading Wuthering Heights at the time of her pregnancy with me? Wuthering Heights, where the characters are either too bland or too lost to unyielding chaos of their own emotions. Maybe I revel in the chaos. If I settle, if the pattern becomes too monotonous, and I grow complacent. All I need is enough to get by, in order to keep the dream of publishing alive. Because there has to be an amount of selfishness in order to publish, to think that your thoughts and ideas are entertaining enough for a publisher to take a risk on you. And maybe that’s why a selfless role in the corporate world is ultimately so difficult for me to uphold.
I want to believe that my time creating is more valuable than a paycheck derived from data entry. I want to believe that my stories are too entertaining to be left unwritten.
I want to prove that I am an artist. I don’t want to commit to a full time job when those hours should go to writing my novel series. If I can get by with part time work and freelancing, then I’d rather do that. The solidity of office work feels too final, when in my 20s I should be able to make stupid mistakes. I still want to get my Masters, and if funding allows it my Doctorate as well. I want to be a published author and I’ll put as many hours in as I need because a part of me would crumble without it. I’m not saying I’ll become a best seller. But I’d be damned if I didn’t give it 100% while this spark of madness still felt possible.
Brontë Bettencourt (Episode 34) graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelors in English Creative Writing. When she’s not writing or working, she is a full time Dungeon Master and Youtube connoisseur.