2015 was such a whirlwind. A blur. A ride. An adventure. A spectacle. A blast. A rollercoaster. A peanut.
Crap, I lost it. Let’s just say, a lot of stuff happened.
In many ways it felt like I was wandering aimlessly on this new writing path. Last I wrote about it, I oh so dramatically outlined my reasons for peace-ing out on journalism (On a scale of 1-10 in breakups, I’d give it a 55. Necessary, sure, but awful as fuck. I enjoyed writing for newspapers for a time but didn’t quite have the temperament for the daily 300-word regurgitation of things you can Google elsewhere. Even as a reader, I much prefer longer narratives and pieces that take months and months to write. But I’d do it all over again, layoff and financial destitution and all. It was like being in a time capsule—a writing bootcamp that future generations won’t get to experience. Suck it, babies).
Unlike the well-worn and fading path of daily newspapering, this new one is much more nebulous.
And in 2015, it showed.
I was all over the place.
I left a contract job in NYC so I could intern at a cool ad agency in Minneapolis for a couple months. Steeped in great copywriting tradition, this place was like rubbing shoulders with the ghosts of the greats and the rockstars of the current. I also got to see what an agency’s like when it debuts an ad baby on the night of the Holy Grail of admaking—the Super Bowl.
I got back to New York, probably more unsure than ever of where to go next. Instead of immediately lining up an ad gig, I decided to use my savings to hole up and start drawing. And I kept drawing (more on that later).
With a couple dozen comic strips under my belt and a revamped portfolio incorporating my doodles, it was time to look for another gig. I soon was faced with two choices: a stable position in Manhattan calling for a very specific skillset or a contract one in Jersey calling for anything and everything that was 1.5 hours by train and train and bus. I took the one in Jersey.
Franco and I moved into our own space. One word: liberating. Hence, this current spate of posts.
When summer ended, so did the Jersey gig. Days into yet another stretch of holing up and drawing, I got a call for a monthlong project in Pittsburgh. (Pittsburgh, by the way, is an awesome town. In another lifetime in another universe, I would have loved it.)
Back in NYC, I closed out the year with another contract job in Manhattan. Because. Bookends.
Looking back now, I see there was one constant: experimentation.
Different ads and clients and cities and agencies and people—I wanted to try them all.
All throughout, I still wrote side projects for myself. Not in this space, because for a while I felt like everything I wanted to share didn’t belong here. They were meant to be short stories, maybe, or diary comics, or shitty tumblr posts or some other form I don’t really know yet.
I’ve grown more patient with them.
2015 made my writing goals much clearer. I’d share what they are but this space is much better in hindsight.
But I can speak in generalities.
I’ve found that to grow as a writer, you have to grow as a human. That may include admitting things about yourself you may not like, purging a lot of things that are bad for you, and not being afraid of the changes you need to make to get to where you want to be. Just like anything in life, things may be crap for a while but time has a way of ironing things out.
I’ve found that just because you’re growing in a certain direction doesn’t mean the people you know are going to go with you. And that’s OK. Some people are right for us in spurts, not eternity.
In the same vein, pursuing your own path, especially one that doesn’t quite jibe with the status quo, can be quite lonely. It’s why surrounding yourself with awesome people isn’t just important—it’s pretty damn necessary. And because forging real bonds takes a lot of time and energy, we must be very cognizant of who we give that time and energy to.
Finally, #LIVINGTHEDREAM can change as you change. This time 10 years ago, I was a senior journalism major gearing up for a summer internship at a daily newspaper; was editing the college paper and would soon be running it by fall; and leaving it all behind by spring to live in Spain for a couple months. Shit. I was way cooler 10 years ago.
And that’s OK.
Because I didn’t know then what I know now.
That is, #LIVINGTHEDREAM may at times look a lot like wandering aimlessly, making questionable career moves, waking up in the middle of the night going: What the fuck am I doing? It’s talking to people about your dreams about writing and being flat out told: HA. So you want to be a writer? Not if you don’t write in a certain manner at this kind of place, slaving away every night and weekend FOR ALL OF ETERNITY you won’t!
In spite of it all, no, in the face of it all, you keep writing. Not just writing, mind you, but writing in the kind of way that excites you and sounds like you.
Because weirdly enough, this nonlinear path actually gets you much closer to #LIVINGTHEDREAM than the one that came with all the cool, fancy titles.
In my old writing life, I put my work with the capital W ahead of everything. That was necessary for that point in my life, but now… fuck. That. I’m convinced my best writing self comes from being the best human me.
Which means being in the city I love.
With the people I love.
To do the kind of writing I love.
It took a while to get here, but man am I glad I did.
Happy New Year, friends.