I love hearing David Rakoff speak for several reasons, including but not limited to: 1) He called Barbara Bush a "stupid f*****g cow," 2) He is always honest about how difficult writing is and how long it takes him to do it, and 3) As he is revealing the truth about himself, he is also revealing the truth about me.
Case in point, last night I had the privelege of hearing David read from his new book Half Empty during the Writers Speak series at Stony Brook Manhattan. During the Q & A afterwards, he was asked how he finally made the transition from publishing house lackey/occasional freelance writer to celebrated author of three books. He said that he finally had to just face his fear of failure and go for it. The publishing gig was a comfortable job that didn't require much from him, gave him health insurance, and a salary close enough to a living wage. He recognized that those circumstances, though not ideal, were certainly sustainable, and he could continue on that same path for a long time. Except that he couldn't. He couldn't stand the thought of living the rest of his life regretting that plunge into the unknown that he never took. So he jumped.
As he told his story, I began to squirm in my seat. He was hitting very close to home. I, too, have a comfortable, unobtrusive day job. In fact, when people ask me what I "do," I reply that in real life I am a writer and in fake life I work for a non-profit organization. The truth is that I spend seven hours a day, five days week on my fake life, and not nearly that much time on my real life. And my real life is the one I actually want to be leading. So what to do? According to David Rakoff, jump.
Sound familiar, dear reader? Are you jumping or just looking over the edge?