Monday, September 14, 2009

Decision Time

The alarm gently pulls me out of dreamland. Before I get up, I take stock of the day. It's raining, which means no selling fruit and veg at the stand. I could roll over and go back to sleep. But Rohan's up and the guilt of him going to work and me sleeping in gets me out of bed.

I wander out into my parent's kitchen and turn on the kettle. Ever since we returned to the States, we've been living in the house I grew up in. Battles with banks and bureaucracy have kept us from buying a house, so we're still here. My parents, Rohan and I have fallen into a comfortable routine of living together. It won't be this good forever, but for now it works.

I kiss Rohan goodbye and wish him a good day at work. With my cup of tea in hand, I sit down and discuss the world's problems with my mom. Heavy talk for first thing in the morning. Even from our divergent political views we can agree that things are stuffed. We've nearly solved some major issues, but she's gotta go get ready for work, so our waxing lyrical is stopped short.

Out of distractions, I head to my room to start writing. I briefly consider continuing to procrastinate and do some cleaning, but decide against it. Focus, Tabatha, focus!

I briefly glance at my email, find David Miller's blog, take a quick look at Twitter, Facebook, Matador Life and my Matador profile, accept a traveler request, review blog comments and realize I'm still procrastinating. I will do some writing today, I'm determined to concentrate! Today I will finish a chapter of my book and a MatadorU assignment. I will not waste my day searching endlessly for paid writing work while not actually doing any writing.

The decision to stop trying to find travel writing commissions from anybody and everybody is only a recent one. And it came about because of an email I received from an editor two weeks ago.

The day I got the fateful email started out much like today: I got up out of bed, made my tea and sat down in the front of the computer. When I opened the email from the editor, it was with a positive sense of expectation. Up to that point all of our interactions had been congenial.

I had to reread the email twice to believe what it said and one line in particular stood out: “I would hold off writing the [next] piece as at this time, for the level of writing that we are receiving we don't feel that it is worth the $14.” Not worth $14! The $14 isn’t worth the time, effort and agony it took to write these experiences. Truth be told, I didn’t really enjoy that style of writing.

As I sit here thinking about that line and rereading it for the two-hundred and sixty-first time, my decision to stop seeking any and every commission is confirmed. I write for me first. And I don’t necessarily want to do it for a living. I want to teach for a living and write for enjoyment. If the writing pays, great. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too.

I sit here, at this desk over-looking oak, pine and cedar trees, and try to write the kind of stuff I like to read. What I like to read is not the best-kept secret, must-see, exotic, treasure trove, jewel of an oasis that typifies travel writing (words and phrases courtesy of: thetravelersnotebook). I want to read and write something different. As a result of that email I received two weeks ago, I was able to decide what I don’t want to write and therefore focus on what I do want to. Perhaps I should thank that editor for helping me put it in perspective.


Nancy said...

Great post. (Love the name of your blog!)

Engaging writing style and made me want to know more about your story.

Tabs said...

Thanks Nancy!

Jason said...

Take it from me, editors are pricks, and we don't always have ...tact... at the best of time. Her comments were pretty crappy, and she didn't handle it well, but don't let one editor deter you from your path. (But then, again, it seems you reached two important realisations for most writers: 1. there are few markets and many mouths to feed, 2. you should only ever write for yourself first - but in a catch-22, make sure you aren't your only audience.) ...I know you get that.
Keep at it!

angryredhead said...

Ah, my day often starts off the same way. Good luck!

neha said...

"I will not waste my day searching endlessly for paid writing work while not actually doing any writing."

I tell myself the same thing everyday ... I saw so much of what I do in this post!

Keep writing and good luck!

Nick said...

What a great post! It's good that you've decided to write for yourself first and foremost, and to write the sorts of things that you like to read. I think that's really important.

ASH said...

Great post -honest writing which I could easily relate to.