My readers are out there. I know they are. I can’t explain how I know it because it’s more an intuition than a rational thought, but I feel it in the core of my being. My readers are out there. They need stories of heroism and redemption in this age of cynicism and greed. They need to immerse themselves in a gritty tale of ordinary people enduring and overcoming tyrannical times because that archetype has passed from one generation to the next for millennia. They yearn for a connection with self-sufficiency, not supernatural hocus pocus. They crave a triumph of rational thought over superstition. I know they are out there because I can hear them in the calm hum of serenity when I close my eyes in the dark. My readers are out there.
I just need them to find me.
I don’t want to feel bitter and angry, but at every turn, I feel betrayed. Stay in school, they said. Get an education, they droned. I did, to the tune of $50,000 of debt. After 15 years of teaching, I’ve watched that debt mushroom to $70,000 with zero hope of ever paying it off. It has single-handedly ruined my credit and on a daily basis keeps me mired in terrible financial straits. In every conceivable way, I would have been better off financially to have skipped college — especially graduate school — altogether and worked at some kind of personal business. Instead, I listened to those in authority and am ruined financially because of it. So yeah, I feel angry and bitter.
I work 60 hours a week, at least. In the fall semester especially, I run ragged from the time I wake up Monday morning until I finish grading sometime Sunday evening. There is no break. There is no rest. There is only teach, rush to the high school, battle the high school nonsense, rush back to campus, teach, grade, repeat. For my efforts, I’m paid less than the average fast food manager. Of what I make, I get to keep and live off 51% thanks to child support, insurance, and taxes. My actual take home wages are well below the poverty line. So yeah, I’m angry and bitter.
Despite having given everything I am to my profession and having a mountain of feedback that insists I’m really fucking good at my job, every single day I’m made to feel as if I don’t give enough and don’t work hard enough and don’t exhaust myself quite enough. Just Thursday, I received an email from my boss questioning why I hadn’t submitted faculty feedback on a class that had only started on Monday. Let me repeat that. I was questioned for not supplying feedback on students who had only been in class for four days. They haven’t even submitted a fucking formal essay yet. That should tell you just about everything you need to know about the current state of education. So yeah, I feel angry and bitter.
I’ve written four pretty good books. I’ll put my series against 99% of the shit that passes for entertainment these days, especially the drivel on TV, but I can’t make a dent in anyone’s consciousness because I don’t fit tidily into a pretty little marketing category. And Facebook now makes you pay to show your links. And Google+ sucks. And Twitter is madness unleashed. And I was born in the wrong era. So yeah, I’m angry and bitter because my two greatest skills and greatest passions, writing and the teaching of writing, have zero worth in this chapter of American history. I’m a dinosaur, and I’m just about fed up with it all.