Hey Fellow Writers,

Lately, I've been feeling pretty low about my so-called writing career, or lack thereof. Part of it has to do with watching my artist friends (filmmakers, writers, graphic designers, actors, VFX artists, etc.) all seem to be moving forward in their careers while I'm hopelessly stuck in the mud (as it seems).

The other part is that my financial, familial, and property ownership obligations are all slipping into the dumper.

I have a very supportive wife but she has put up with 16 years of my not being able to achieve any kind of financial stability let alone success. I have a decent house but every month of my lack of income brings us closer to foreclosure. I have a child who I feel like I'm being a terrible father to because I can't properly provide for her.

This is NOT how I expected my life to be at this point 6 months away from turning 50!

And the irony is that I've been looking for all kinds of work, not just writing-related. With all of my experience, the least I should be able to get is a copywriting job! However, between age discrimination and long-term unemployment discrimination, coupled with some over-the-top creative digital footprints that I cannot eliminate or bury from the Internet (stuff I'm actually proud of but my wife fears that companies think that that work is too unprofessional to risk hiring me over), I can't even get that copywriting job!

Let alone anything like a Senior Communications Director or a PR Director.

I'm un-hirable it seems!

And what really burns me is that I thought I'd be way farther along than this by now. I believe I'm pretty talented. I know I have a ton of experience. My resume is pretty good despite a lot of job hopping, mostly due to companies foolishly going under, and consulting work!

I never grew up with a lot of money. I had friends who did have money and got to do things I only dreamed about: like traveling the world at young ages, owing cars which made it easier to date girls, not being saddled with decades of college debt freeing them to travel and live wherever they wanted like NYC or LA, having great teeth because their parents could afford braces, and lots more stuff that I'm pretty resentful about.

But as I got older things got better and I started making headway in my life around the dot-com days. A nice economy made it possible for everyone to move up in life. Those were the best days of my single life! Then economy crashed and sent me down again. But at least I found a woman who loves me and supported me. And I've done all kinds of wrong by her by not giving back to her what she deserves!

And what do I do? I choose a profession that pays no money!

Now I know that authors like Herman Melville never made a dime from their books. He was a customs agent for his day job.

And I've spoken with many authors (most of them self-published) at comic cons and they all have days jobs, which they tell you not to quit! And a lot of those day jobs are not even writing-related.

It also seems that getting any kind of writing job is next to impossible.

  • Can't seem to get a news writing job because of several factors: too old, no degree in journalism, have not lived in New York or LA, no job history in broadcasting.
  • Can't seem to get a screenwriting or TV-writing job because of several factors: too old, have not worked as a screenwriter's assistant, do not live in LA, no screenwriting agent.
  • Can't seem to get a marketing writing job because of several factors: too old, no degree in marketing, not pretty/handsome enough, not connected to industry professionals.
  • Can't seem to get a PR writing job because of several factors: too old, no PR degree, no work history in any PR firms—despite actual PR writing experience.
  • Can't seem to get freelance writing jobs because of one factor: no clients want to pay!

This list can go on forever.

By the way, I do have a degree in English that I'm actually proud of and have had to defend from real ******* (Pride & Prejudice style) who dismiss it completely out of hand as a nothing degree!

Now I know that the "too old" thing comes up a lot. And I do believe it really is a problem because of one glaring reason:

I should have figured out what my career was going to be at a young age, and taken all the steps necessary to follow that path while I was still free and unbound.

But there was NOTHING as far as career counseling for people like me in the late 1980s/early 1990s!

Even the Internet would have saved my career but it didn't exist then!

If I could have learned the inside secret that you had to be a screenwriter's assistant before you could become a working screenwriter in Hollywood, and to get that you had to be at least be a PA, and you had to have moved out to LA first, well that's what I would have done!

But there was nothing by way of information that was available to make that possible.

Also, becoming a successful published author. The steps involved are enormous. There was no information of where to go and who to connect with and how to break into publishing back in the late 80s early 90s! Now I can only hope that I could at least get a book published in before I'm 60.

I've tried self-publishing and all it seemed to so was suck up my money and make me look foolish/amateurish in front of literary agents.

No agent, no career. And really, you have to be considerably young to actually convince these agents you're worth the risk. I've been to pitchfests and the writers that do get noticed are all the pretty/handsome young ones, not the old farts. Tell me I'm wrong! Sure experience is way more valuable but agents really want longevity in a client and eye-candy to put up at the signing tables and panel discussions.

Same is true for actors, ask Maggie Gyllenhall who couldn't get a role playing the love interest of a 55 year male actor because she was too old at 35!

Business is even worse for writers and anyone pushing 50!

A resume these days can't say that you've done a ton of stuff all over the place—even if the experience is relevant. Either you've worked through a specific career path, e.g.: marketing intern, assistant to marketing director, marketing writer, marketing manager, senior marketing manager, director of marketing, vp of marketing; or you are not taken seriously when you try for a job that should be appropriate for your age and experience.

Now I know a lot of you are going to argue that:

  • You're never too old to change careers
  • You're never too old to be a published author (look at Sheri S. Tepper)
  • Age is just a number, etc.
  • You have to make your own opportunities in life
  • Life isn't fair

Plus a lot more counter arguments.

And for the most part I generally agree. But lately, I'm just feeling that I've completely wasted my entire life by not having a direction and a plan to get me there at a young age, when I should have.

How I long for the dot-com days to return and right these discriminatory wrongs!

So I guess being a writer means being poor!

Not to mention that even if you do get book deals (and agents), they pay next to nothing in royalties and you have to do all the marketing work yourself. So unless you want to write vile erotic BDSM sensational stuff like E.L. James (which I'm sure lots of people are trying to copy now, saturating that market), any real success as a writer is probably a pipe dream.

I sure would like to hear some ideas on how to break out of this mess—if it's even possible.

Oh, and I'm not giving up writing either (I love writing too much) but I don't think it's a viable career path any more!