Hi everyone! I know you’re used to me writing silly articles about traffic, or racists, or pastelitos, but I figured I’d pull back the curtain, mix my metaphors, and show how the literary sausage is made. In three words: it’s really hard.
I’m typing this at 3:50 AM on a Monday night because, when the bilingual muses in my head get antsy, I need to jot down their utterances, sleep cycle be damned. But I’m not complaining about the creative process. I design and disseminate ludicrous memes, stories, books, and plays—all of which make me infinitely happy. Nevertheless, existential dread keeps me awake far more often than inspiration.
I did what every Disney movie evangelizes, and every iota in my immigrants’ son’s body reflexively rebels against: pursue my dream. Become a professional writer. The inherent irony being that this metaphorical dream impedes the rapid eye movement eight hours of desperately sought sleep would bestow. This brings me back to the omnipresent fear of paragraph two.
Six months ago, I did something eminently foolish. I quit a well-paying job, left D.C., moved back to Miami, and launched a startup venture. All the entrepreneurs among my readers will understand the Sword of Damocles I voluntarily placed over my head. The terror of failure is pervasive. The hours of work, interminable. The obstacles, myriad and seemingly impassable. But before VCs and angel investors start licking their chops and offering me term sheets, know that there’s no buy-out or IPO at the end of this journey, no foreseeable off-ramp.
I chose one of the least lucrative and most uncertain career paths. I know the statistics. It’s incredibly hard to land an agent, much less a book deal. Should I somehow clear the first two hurdles, advances for new authors are paltry, as are royalties. There is no guarantee of a steady income. With the exception of very few professional writers breathing rarified air at the top of the literary pyramid, most others struggle to survive by cobbling together odd jobs. This is my most likely future, unless I pack it in, get a “real job,” and leave this silly bohemian dream to the trust fund babies.
So what to do when the terror of uncertainty emerges from beneath my bed to grasp me in its steely, suffocating embrace? Write “The Art Cuban of Cursing,” or “How to Drive Like a Miami Asshole,” or “Don Francisco Turns 832 Year Old,” or make a meme of Pitbull riding a giant, gold-chain-wearing rooster. Write a silly short film about climbing Mount Tropical Park. Create an entire pantheon of gods for my home town.
At the end of the day, I really just want to make you laugh. I want to make you proud. And I don’t know what else to do.
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