When I started this blog yesterday, it was with a sense of desperation (hence the melodramatic post title). I was sitting here, at age 34, after a decent 12-year writing and editing career spanning the journalism and marketing worlds and punctuated with the occasional industry award... typing updated state-legislator statehouse room numbers into a database at a low-paying temp gig ($13 an hour, pre-tax). It occurred to me that I could have done this kind of work in the fifth grade. (I mean, you know, if white-collar child labor were legal here.) I felt like a failure, a victim to inertia's siren song, a frequent and lackadaisical traveler along the path of least resistance.
So I did what I always do when I'm frustrated or sad (or, OK, also when I'm happy or anything else). I wrote. I cranked out a first post and put the sucker up, with little regard for how the blog looked. (No template tweaking, no over-thinking the title.) It made me feel better, as if I'd done... something.
I've started (and stopped) loosely themed blogs in the past. It's always a rush to select a URL and blog title, to go in and play around with templates and colors and fonts. But that part, for me, is a bit like painting a room -- I go to Home Depot all gung-ho, scrutinize the color swatches, read the color names, pick one out, ask the resident paint mixer to whip me up a batch, and drive home with this feeling that I can change my world. I can make it Mellifluous Mango or Elegant Eggplant, with a dainty glossy finish or a more hardy matte one that you can clean fingerprints off of. Mind over matter, man.
And then I get home and realize that I have to do all this pesky prep work. I have to tape the edges of the walls and around any light fixtures, and I suck at that. I have to spread a tarp and/or newspapers all over the floor, I have to make sure to run the paint roller in fluid diagonals to avoid creating bold inadvertent stripes, I have to wrap the rollers up in plastic bags and put them in the fridge between coats. I have to carefully peel off the tape when I'm done. I have to do all this work, and I get so impatient to see the results that I tend to do it sloppy.
It's not like in the movies when you see a montage: the gang of scrappy misfits somehow obtains a ramshackle house, some up-tempo music plays, someone is using a hammer and someone is using some sandpaper, someone else paints a few vivid streaks onto an erstwhile boring white wall... and then they all stand back in a row and admire their handiwork, a few endearing dust streaks or paint patches adorning their coveralls. (I think I pretty much just described the scene in "Revenge of the Nerds" when they transformed an old clunker into the Lambda Lambda Lambda house. Except I left out the robot helping them sweep.)
My point is that I sometimes have this problem of getting all excited about a new project, then fizzling out when I realize there's more to the job than just the daydreamy part.
But this time feels different. For one thing, I didn't do squat to make this blog look fancy. I want to focus on the content, and ideally provide some hope, ideas, or at least commiseration for anyone else in a hole. I won't let myself peter out this time. I'm only allowed to quit once I've actually dug out of the titular hole.
And so today I forge onward and upward with legitimate (albeit tiny) news to report on the digging-out-of-the-hole front. I have registered with a new temp agency -- the BOSS Group, which specializes in placing creative folks (writers, graphic designers) in temp, temp-to-hire, and permanent positions. (Bonus points to them for having a cocktail recipe -- the BOSStini -- as their most recent "tweet" when I visited their website.)
I did that thanks to an awesome friend who responded to my Facebook whining with some good, concrete advice. (I had made the mistake of reading the Urban Dictionary's definition for "temp": "An individual employed in a
job whereby their duties are administration-based but tedious,
repetitive, low-paid and boring, hence a monkey could do it." Also: "A
worker in an office hired on a temporary basis. Usually untalented." Untalented my award-winning ass!) He recommended the group, and even named a specific rep whom I'm going to call on Monday if I don't get some sort of response from them by the end of the week. Another awesome and credible friend seconded his recommendation, saying she's gotten good work and decent pay from these folks. So this morning I filled in the online profile and uploaded my résumé to their site. It's tiny, but it's something. It's something better than whining.