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Confronting Ancient, Soul-Devouring Anxieties… and Modern Ones, too.

I’m aware that it is the oldest question in the world. It is the reason we have religion, philosophy, stand-up comedy and prescription drugs. It is the question that drives us to stay awake for days at a time, staring into the oblivion of our souls and screaming into the night sky. It is the one question that can never be answered for us. Answering the question is the difference between a life of longing and a life of fulfillment.

What is my Purpose?

After a night spent sleepless and worrying about everything from money to toe-nail growth, I finally started pushing the thoughts around in my own mind this morning. I focused in on the one that seems to always creep up on me when I get into a pensive mood, money. Mostly, the idea that I don’t really have any, and the knowledge that I probably won’t for a long time. I haven’t worked since February. I don’t think it was a mistake to quit the job I had then, but I do feel like I wasted my opportunity to do something great. I once again let fear and lethargy control my fate. I let myself spend a few months being metaphorically dead. That was okay when I was working. I could be a shuffling corpse, grinding through the day job as long as there was income. It’s put me into a dangerous place without one. Don’t worry. I’m not starving or homeless, yet. I have a bit of time still to get myself back into the rat race.

The question, though, is if I go back to work, can I still pretend that I’m going to go somewhere with my creativity?

I’m afraid that if I just go back out and find a new job, I’ll end up accepting that as my fate and leaving behind any ambitions and dreams I might have had. It makes me wonder if I can pull off a Hail-Mary, Annexation of Puerto Rico, Last-Minute Desperate play and win the big game. I’ve been writing this blog for almost 3 years (2 Years, 8 Months), and managed to monetize to a grand total of somewhere around $100. That’s a pretty good deal of money, actually, as far as armature blogging goes. What breaks down to roughly $0.06/hour isn’t going to pay the bills, anytime soon. I guess I could steal a time travel device in the future and travel back to ye-oldey-times and be a Rockefeller, but, future me hasn’t shown up yet, so we’ll rule that out.

This all left me sitting at my desk around 6:00 in the morning wondering if there was a way that I can turn my little piece of cyber-land into prime cyber-real-estate. After giving into the anti-commercialism that exists in the deep recesses of every artist, I decided that I already had enough (possibly too many) ads on my site. Maybe I’m wrong there, but I feel that I’m not.

Then I got an email from another blogger that linked to her GitTip account, and I started thinking about donations.

For years, webcomic artists thrived on donations. On the surface it seems like a decent idea; I create content, and my audience gives me money if they feel I deserve it. There was something floating in my stomach about the idea that I couldn’t quite reconcile, though, so as always, I turned to Twitter.

I asked my tweeps how the felt about donation buttons. The handful of responses that I got were mixed. Most people can’t give a specific reasons not to have one, but they are considered distasteful.

I started talking about it, and realized what it was that bothered me about donate buttons on blogs.

It feels desperate and greedy.

Logically, I know that it shouldn’t. I know that content creators should get paid for creating their content. Some make gobs of money and some will never want to, but the option shouldn’t be considered taboo. Still, I can’t bring myself to take that leap and put a little PayPal button in the sidebar. I’d feel like I was begging. Despite the fact that it is more related to busking, I’d feel like I was standing on the side of the street with a cardboard sign reading, “Giant Loser, Please Give Me Money.”

And that’s a gag I think I’ve run into the ground.

 

 

Ultimately, I decided to agonize over it for a few more weeks, which ultimately means I’m not going to do it. I’ve pretty much convinced myself it isn’t worth it anyway.

 

 

 

It was after this exercise in both futility and self-pity, that a different conversation about money came up.

 

I think most of you know InkyTwig, and if you don’t, you should. Inky is one of my very first blog-friends, and one of the best people I know.

 

She took my navel-gazing into a completely different direction by asking me why I don’t direct sell prints of my art, or a number of other things. She suggested that I spend some time deciding what I’m good at and love to do, then figuring out how to monetize those things. She suggested I start with the very basic step of figuring out what I want in life, and what I want to do to get there.

 

 

That pushed me into admitting my utter lack of practical abilities. No, I don’t just mean knowing how to change your oil or things like that. I mean, I lack the part of my brain that makes the need to change oil make sense. You see, it’s not something that comes naturally to me, so it gets sloughed off. I never learned how to do things that didn’t come naturally to me. I never learned how to learn things. It’s left me in a place where I can get pretty damn anxious, bordering on terrified, if I come across something that I need to do and can’t.

That’s ultimately where I am right now. I’m trying to use the one thing I can do, bitching on the internet, to put my brain back in order enough to try an overcome my horrible ineptitude at life.

 

The truth is, there are a lot of people  in the world that make a killing doing this. It is possible. They all seem to think it’s relatively easy, too. The truth of it is, I can’t figure it out to save my life. I just keep creating content (slower and slower as I grow weary) and hoping that one day, I’ll just find myself on the top of the hill. I think I can, I think I can.

 

I don’t even know if I’m on the right hill. I’m probably not.

 

The very last question InkyTwig asked me was, “What are things you just could not ever imagine NOT doing? Because it would be like a piece of your soul ripped from your body if you didn’t do it.”

 

I know she was expecting me to answer doodling. She’s one of the biggest fans of my drawings, and I truly appreciate that, but drawing is something my hands do because I can’t focus on anything else. It isn’t a joyous expression of my soul, not the way it is for some people.

I think a lot of people would expect me to answer writing, too. It’s probably true, although, not writing doesn’t feel so much like a part of my soul being ripped out as much as a pressure that builds up inside me until I’m going to explode.

The best answer is daydreaming.

I know that doesn’t mean much to most people, but to me, it’s the breath of life. My brain won’t stop running through these crazy visions, memories, alternative conversations, conversations that never were, insane delusions, and thoughts at play.

 

Drawing is a way I express that. Writing is a way I express that. Dancing around embarrassingly is a way I express that.  LARP, Comedy, Music, Poetry, pretending to be a Jedi while I’m doing the laundry; All ways I express that part of me.

 

So… there’s the foundation.

 

How do you monetize your own insanity?

Published by M.A. Brotherton

M.A. Brotherton is a writer, blogger, artist, and fat-kid from the suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri. He’s tasted a little bit of everything the Midwest has to offer, ranging from meth-tweaking rednecks in massive underground cave complexes to those legendary amber waves of grain. When he’s not writing, he spends most of his time screwing around on the internet.