Living

Still Seeking Validity, or, Self-Worth Struggles for Bread-Eaters

“I’m a writer,” I say proudly, adding on the descriptor of fiction, entertainment, or food and drink depending on the company. “But I don’t support myself or anything.”

Ah, there it is. My caveat. Why am I compelled to add it in? Something within me thinks it’s important for people to know, although it isn’t. It’s none of their business how much money I make in my career, but somehow, after six years at this gig, I still view my financial contributions to the household as an essential part of my identity. Other bread-eaters I know have had to deal with judgments as to how they spend their days from other people, and I wouldn’t hesitate to rise to their defense, raise my voice and yell, “How dare you try to devalue this person’s work?!” whether that work be a career, raising children, keeping up a household, or a combination of all of the above. Yet I do it to myself all the time.

I’m ridiculous. You’d think I’d know better by now. Way back when I left my last day job to pursue fiction writing fulltime, I wrote a post on how I was struggling with financial dependency—nay, not just being financially dependent on someone else, but choosing it. That was before I could call myself a professional writer or a published author. I now have a nice long list of accomplishments, and I know I spend the same amount of time on my career as most people do in their workplaces. But my primary emotional battle remains the same: accepting, again and again, that my self-worth does not need to be connected to my financial contribution. You’d think I’d have an easier time with that seeing as our income has risen every year since. But I still get hung up on it.

I’m proud, you see. Proud that I put myself through college. Proud that I could fully support myself until the age of 29. Taking pride in my financial acumen, in the independence that it provided, was a key aspect of my identity until I took that jump into writing fulltime. It provided me with validation that I now have to find elsewhere. And inevitably, that elsewhere starts as a side writing project that eventually overpowers my passion project—writing fiction—because fiction brings in nominal income even when I do sell a story or get royalties. So I devalue it and slowly but surely reprioritize the projects that bring in significant funds. My first few years, that was copy editing dissertations and manuscripts until I realized I was no longer working on my fiction. In the last two years, that’s been writing for an entertainment website until I had the wake-up call that maybe, maybe, the reason I couldn’t get the motivation to work on my second novel was because of the 5K of polished words I’d churned out on articles over 2 days.

How do I realize I’ve done it again? A growing sense of dissatisfaction with my work develops, and I eventually have that aha! moment of realizing it’s because I’m not engaging my creative side. Which isn’t to say nonfiction isn’t creative, of course, but it doesn’t feed my soul in the same way. After I make that realization? The downward spiral commences: I must convince myself, yet again, that it’s okay if I don’t contribute funds to our income, and that I, Becca Gomez Farrell, somehow deserve this amazing opportunity to pursue my dreams when so many other people can’t. What right do I have to live this privileged life? And yes, I mean “privileged” with all its social justice connotations. Why is it okay for me to take advantage of this opportunity; what did I do to deserve it other than picking a great husband?  It feels selfish of me to even consider spending my days spinning yarns in light of what other people face.

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Five Truths for North Carolinians

If we’re friends in the flesh, then you may have heard me go off on one of these rants before. Call it therapy in anticipation of our move, but I have a few things about North Carolina I want to get off my chest. And because Southerners like to believe everything’s better if you coat it in sugar or butter it up, I’ve followed each with a counterpoint extolling what I love about this state.

1. The sky is not Carolina Blue.

Sky in North Carolina.

Sky in North Carolina.

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, Tarheel fans, but the sky is the same color everywhere you go, and that color is not Carolina Blue. It’s called sky blue, and that’s because it existed well before the University of North Carolina was a speck in dear old William R. Davies’ eye. You do not have a patent on the color of the sky, and it’s darn obnoxious that you think you do.

Sky in Yosemite. Oh look, it’s the same!

Sky in Yosemite. Oh look, it’s the same!

1a. Your House Divided bumper stickers are pretty cute.

Credit: Outdoor Wholesale Dropship

I love it when couples antagonize each other, and there’s no better way to observe that than during a basketball game with split Duke and UNC allegiances among the hosts. What’s even cuter is that NC State fans actually think they are UNC’s rivals. It makes me want to rub the whole Wolfpack’s heads with condescending pats.

2. Get some damn streetlights.

Those are the things on the right.

Those are the things on the right.

And while you’re at it, throw in some sidewalks and lane reflectors, too. Driving at night here is a guessing game—is that a lane divider over there or is it more construction on Davis Dr.? Who knows?! It’s too damn dark to see. Don’t even try and read the street signs. In fact, maybe you should just avoid traveling at night, especially if it’s raining. Turn on your brights, and all you’ll get are reflections in the puddles of water washing over the asphalt. There is a resistance to night pollution in this state. For all you city folk, night pollution is the collective effect that electronic lighting has on our ability to see stars. I’ll take being alive over seeing stars any day. Pun intended.

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The Adventure of Parachuting Ninja

The Adventure of Parachuting Ninja

When my sister was in town a few weeks ago, we went to Wilmington and found ourselves with a pile of tickets from an afternoon at the boardwalk arcade. For our prize, we chose the parachuting ninja.

Awesomeness personified, am I right? And thus, I present to you the adventures of the Parachuting Ninja, a story told in photographs.

The adventure begins deep in the forest of mint, as Parachuting Ninja makes his way through the woods.

Once past the treacherous herbal forest, he finds his next obstacle, the giant Zygo Cactus. It’s a prickly enemy for any Parachuting Ninja, no matter how highly trained.

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