I’m struggling with an interesting dichotomy these days, a situation I could not have foreseen or imagined; my work has become my passion, and my passions have created a multilayered “job” where happiness and contentment are the most important benefits.
Dig, I have had a career that I stumbled into back in 1998 as a professional truck driver. No, it wasn’t the job I’d ever envisioned for myself, but it suited me more than I realized. I never wanted to wear a suit and tie to work, nor did I want to sit in a cubicle. Standing in a classroom and teaching was my other thought, but there are too many rules and too much politics involved in being an urban schoolteacher. I like the solitude involved when I’m rolling down the highway, alone with my thoughts, listening to music or a book, the captain of my ship. Sure, there have been bad days, but good ones far outweigh them. I’ve met people with whom I’ve formed lasting friendships, and it’s been rewarding. Yet, there’s another side to my soul, which was unnurtured, and opening the door and letting my creativity out has given me another job, one which doesn’t feel like work, but it is.
I think everyone has things about themselves which they might not show or share with the world. Maybe it’s a talent for culinary arts, painting landscapes, playing guitar, or the unique talent of using words to create new worlds and epic stories. We’re not so quick to display our alter egos and our art because the rejection from the world can be heartbreaking and soul-crushing. We keep our secret skills in closets and cupboards until the day finally comes when the creativity refuses to be locked away any longer.
A few years ago, I finally started chasing what has become my life’s work, a dream realized after deferring it for too long. In 2013, I became a professional writer. Let me break that simple declaration down a bit for the multitudes and the masses. I found a way to make a few pesos from the creative force I kept hidden for so long. I didn’t start along this path with a clear-cut vision of how this journey would go, but I’m enjoying the ride tremendously. So buckle up, and let me show you the rollercoaster ride I’ve been on the last eight years.
Poetry was my first love and forever loved, and we could discuss Frost, Maya, Langston, Sonia, etc., for hours. Once upon a time, I’d write my poems and show them to potential romantic interests to impress them. Did it work, you ask? Ha! I plead the Fifth Amendment. Anyhow, the advent of social media offered new opportunities and news outlets, and I created a page for my poetry called ‘Marlon’s Writings’ on Facebook. I’d post poems and short essays, and it was invigorating to interact with ‘fans’ while pushing further with my poetry. It was beautiful… in the beginning, but my creative energy was undergoing evolution.
When a feeds consistently, its appetite grows, and it can no longer be content with what once satisfied it. So yeah, I wrote poetry constantly, but many of my poems had other ambitions; they wanted to become stories. I had only written a couple of short stories back then, but for me, they were the next stage in my evolution.
My first book ‘The Colors of My Mind,’ was a collage of poetry and short stories written and produced by me, with no experience, advice, or editor. Lol. I refuse to remove it from Lulu because it’s a testimonial to how far I’ve come as a writer. Oh, and I still get a yearly check or two from that book because people are curious about me, like to investigate and buy my catalog. It’s a pretty cool thing, and I used to think I’d go back and rewrite that first book, but I don’t know if I’ll ever have the time.
The second book, ‘View from the Sidelines,’ was a book of poetry, and it’s good, but my creative mind was already moving on to new things. What if I had pictures of regular people and printed my poetry on those portraits, creating a different sort of art? Yeah, I did it in an attempt to make a coffee table book. It wasn’t the right time, and I didn’t have the right team, but ‘Perceptions of Beauty’ was a great attempt at my vision. I’ll try it again one day.
See what I mean? Each thing has led to another thing, and the repertoire and expertise keep growing. For example, I learned back in 2015 there are magazines and anthologies and contests, which not only accept poems and short stories, they’re willing to pay for them. But the submissions have to be original, unique, edited, etc. Yet, if enough acceptances occur, then those checks, PayPal deposits, and money orders add up, becoming residual income… and thus, the passion becomes a job.
These days, I submit the occasional short story to a publication. If it’s a long one, almost a novella, I create an e-story with my team, which we publish with our company Voices From the Bleachers Publications. If it’s an erotic short story, my company ‘Delicious Escape Publications’ is the home for it, where I might use it in various ways. The novels I write are shopped to publishers by my agent, and it’s a new thrill-ride, where I consider offers, companies, personalities, and other criteria to make sure a company is a good fit for me. Experience has taught me not to be swayed by bombastic promises, and I am not easily persuaded.
It’s funny and amazing how this is going. I have a home office with a bulletin board and a calendar reminding me of goals, conferences, meetings, and deadlines. Two laptops, a printer, a desk, art, and a couch complete the picture, and I spend at least two hours a day in my office, even more on weekends. The guy who only wrote poetry has daily business calls regarding novels, contracts, films, collections, negotiations, new ideas, and new implementations. I have a team of partners and employees, and I swear, it may sound like work or a job, but to me, it really isn’t. It’s a gift that keeps giving, and my endeavors don’t feel much like work. It feels more like… a blessing, not work at all.
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Marlon S. Hayes is a poet, writer, author, and essayist from Chicago, Illinois. Find his work on Amazon, and follow his journey at Marlon’s Writings, Voices from the Bleachers, and Delicious Escape Publications all on Facebook.