In the summer of 2012 I did something completely insane: I left my job because it was not making me happy, and I transferred all my time and energy into creating and maintaining a blog, thinking that it would.
In point of fact, that job had indeed proved an unsatisfying existence, while the freelance writing that took its place was exactly the reverse.
Christopher Hitchens, when asked if writing is what makes him happiest, offered in response, “I know that I’m not happy when I’m not writing.” On various occasions, Hitchens maintained that writing for a living is more of a need than a desire, saying, “It’s not what I do—it’s what I am.”
While such a view might not hold true for every person who has ever put pen to paper, I have become increasingly convinced that it holds true for me. That while I am perfectly capable of working a conventional job with a predictable (and livable) wage, expressing my thoughts on matters of public import—at length, in essay form—is my raison d’être.
And so ever since July 2012, when two friends and I launched The Party Crashers (the others have since parted ways and the “s” shaved off), I have produced op-ed pieces of roughly 700 words three or so times per week on subjects far and wide (but usually having to do with government, politics or American popular culture).
Intellectually speaking, these two years and change have been the most productive of my life and, for that reason, the most fulfilling. To Hitchens’ point: Writing is not all that I do—there are plenty of other things that make me happy—but somehow I have never felt completely right with myself when I haven’t been in the middle of a column.
Why, then, do I use the word “insane” to characterize the decision to do so? Because the job I quit yielded a reliable paycheck, while the job I took up does not—never did, never will. And while doing exactly what you want is all well and good, sooner or later you’re gonna have to eat and pay the rent.
Up until now, that has not particularly been a problem for me. I’m able to save and stretch a dollar more skillfully than most, and I reside in possibly the cheapest multi-person apartment in the greater Boston area.
But of course the lack of a sufficient salary is going to catch up with you eventually. In my case, it finally has.
It’s not that I didn’t see it coming, because of course I did. I knew my blessed, carefree life of crime had an expiration date. I just didn’t know precisely when it would come and had no particular plan for when it did.
I was in denial, in other words, figuring either that a giant sack of money would magically land on my head or that the long-predicted zombie apocalypse would occur long before my checking account ticked down to zero.
In the time I’ve been writing my blog, I haven’t found a proper job because I haven’t looked for one. And I haven’t looked for one because, to my way of thinking, I already have one. Writing is both my work and my life, and I figured—subconsciously, perhaps—that so long as I was doing it on a regular basis, there was no need to make any wholesale changes to my routine.
I was living both a dream and a fantasy. In true Warner Bros. fashion, I had walked off a cliff without looking down, thereby not having to deal with the consequences.
In recent days, however, I finally did look down—not into a ravine, but into my latest bank statement. The conclusion is unmistakable: The party is over, and the search for a real job and a real life must now begin.
But the blog will continue in one form or another (precisely what form I cannot say). It would be nice—a great relief, really—for me to regard The Party Crasher as a two-plus year experiment, stick a fork in it and move on.
But I can’t. I have no choice.