Like every other writer I know, I’m the voice of my generation. Apparently, my voice just isn’t loud enough to overcome our collective screams of desperation. That said, I feel obligated to continue trying, partly because I have the rare privilege of being a writer with a day job, which is being a writer—but with some deadline panic to keep it interesting.
I’m a cockroach—less in the Gregor Samsa sense and more in the “I’ll outlive you in the nuclear holocaust” sense because, like most writers, I’m a survivor. I have an uncanny Gump-like facility for falling up. I attribute this to the millions of words I’ve piled to cushion my fall. If only my per-word rate was higher. There have been days when my motto could have been “Cogito ergo sum pauper sum scribere” which, if Google Translate is to be trusted, means roughly “I write therefore I’m broke.”
Now, I’ve reached that milestone in my career where, if I’m broke, I can always just write more. It’s Grammarly-aided-alchemy. My wheels, for example, were acquired through the transacting of words, ditto my clothes dryer and the clothes that go in it. This never ceases to amaze me, or bore the kids, when I point this out to them as if I’m sharing some lesson about work ethics when in fact I’m just bragging.
It wasn’t always like this. After my inner-child prodigy drowned in its own tears, I enjoyed a meteoric rise in the local media market—read: not falling on my ass during a protracted bout of newsroom attrition. But the white spaces in my writing resume are spackled with weird gigs like writing porn reviews in the naughty aughties—I quit before I even started, because I couldn’t commit to a pen name. I wrote stories under the pseudonym “Sophie Dover” for an L.A. weekly at the insistence of my editor for reasons she took to her grave; I was a food critic who faked food allergies to avoid eating exotic flora and fauna; I’ve written so much SEO web copy that a search bot once sent me a Valentine.
Throughout, I’ve been both championed and chewed by critics and cranks, though I’m convinced none could inflate or eviscerate my own ego as well as I can. Because I know where the lede is buried—it’s right here: If we don’t tell our stories, some other cockroach will.
Originally published in the North Bay Bohemian.