After thinking about it for a few days, I’ve decided not to pursue another agent for my first book. I just don’t have the energy. Obviously this doesn’t mean I’m burning the manuscript, but I really don’t see myself putting more effort into it after this. I haven’t written any fiction lately, and I can’t bring myself to care. I’m sure I’ll go back to it eventually, but I’m not going to keep killing myself trying to get other people to read it. There are signs that you’re headed in the right direction. My classmates have all gotten at least one; I’ve gotten none. I have to be realistic.
I got a letter from one of my department chairs saying that they’re cutting 30 sections of English next spring, and that they’ll decide which ones after they finish in-class evaluations. Right now I’m working on the assumption that after December, community college teaching will no longer be a viable option. (Looking at Rate My Professor and seeing that I had a profile, and that my average score was 1.8, didn’t help matters. I enjoy teaching. I thought I was doing okay.) I’ve been considering getting a K-12 credential, but the starting salary for California teachers is $33,000 a year. I can’t do this again. I can’t put myself through another year or more of training and then find myself broke and exhausted and unhappy.
I realized recently that all my working life, I’ve had this idea that I need to prove that the investment my parents put into my education – I went to what has become one of the most expensive colleges in the US – was worth it. But that’s not just going to happen. I am a wasted investment. I should have gone somewhere cheaper.
My earliest memories are of not being wanted. All my life, I’ve known, on a very deep level, that I’m not wanted: that I have to prove myself worthy of friendship, that I have to help people overcome their initial disgust of me, that given a choice between me and another person (as a friend, as an employee, as a writer) anyone would choose the other person, no contest. I’ve always let myself be manipulated by people; I’ve never understood how to negotiate, how to trust myself, how to take charge. (This is part of what makes me so unemployable.) In college, I let my boyfriend rape me without even realizing that I had a choice in the matter. (No, I’m not talking about violent assault – just a casual entitlement to my body, regardless of whether I wanted or enjoyed it.) Abuse feels normal, and it’s only later, when people comment on it, that I realize that I didn’t have to allow something to happen. I have never felt like I’m of use to people. It’s something that’s so ingrained in me that I doubt I’ll ever overcome it.
I’ve been running myself ragged for years and I’m still in the same place I was right out of college. The only thing I’ve learned is that there’s little correlation between trying and succeeding. Every path I go down leads to a dead end, and that’s the way it’s going to be, no matter what I try to do. Other people know how to make themselves into something meaningful but I don’t. Being here gets so tiring. When I’m playing a video game or writing a story and it gets so difficult and pointless that I’m putting in more energy than I’m getting out of it – in other words, when it becomes obvious that success is unlikely – I just stop and do something else. But what do I do here? When I have to make money? When I have to eat? I spend every day feeling worthless and ridiculous. I have to make money. I hate myself so fiercely and so often.