Monday, November 21, 2011

Why I am not successful, Part 1: I am a trivial person

It's 11:30. So far today I have made particularly tasty coffee and a stand-up omelet, perused dresses on the internet, and written an email to my sister. I would like to point out that today is a Monday and that I am self-employed. (OK, I sent out one press release. I am not entirely horrible, just mostly horrible.) However, I should also point out that if I worked in an office my productivity output would be about the same. What I'm trying to say here is: I am not a successful person.

For years I have imagined that my essential problem was laziness. But I wrote a book! How could I be lazy? It's also possible that I'm stupid. But I've met people far stupider than myself and they seem to be able to navigate the World of Human Adulthood.

Then today, as I was flipping through some magazines, I realized my problem isn't that I'm lazy: it's that I'm just incredibly un-serious. When presented with the New Yorker and The Atlantic what do I do? I flip to the back to check out the comics caption contest and the funny advice column respectively, then discard the rest of the magazine.

I'm silly. Flaky. Childlike. Nonsensical. A human non-sequitur. Incapable of earning a living because, while I technically have a profession, that profession, whimsically enough, doesn't pay actual money. (Writers are paid in fairy dust, rosewater, and dish-soap bubbles.) I traipse through the forest of my imagination all day long and tend to injure myself if I try to work at anything. Office-work results in papercuts and entanglements in staplers, and it's only thanks to the grace of God that I haven't killed anyone while waitressing. (I think I'd make a fantastic kindergarten teacher but I find flesh-children rather noisy.) I'm an outstanding ghost-tour guide, I will say that. Mainly because it is a profession predicated on being completely bonkers.

What can a person like me do? The Sedaris family has already cornered the market on whimsy, so I can't sell that. The New Yorker caption contest doesn't actually pay any money. Working for the J. Peterman catalogue probably isn't at all in real life as it appeared on Seinfeld. I suppose I'd better buckle down and finish that young adult novel about teen witches and hope that pays off somehow. But first I think I'll write a short essay on "Betty Boop in Snow White." Because that is the least practical thing I could be doing right now. And I am a very silly person.