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Fail Harder

Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, even Twitter are full of “positive thinking” quotes and hand-lettered sayings and all sorts of “You Can Do It” if you “Keep Calm and” “Think Positive.” There’s lot’s of pictures of coffee mugs with perfectly angled planners and glasses you know no one wears, maybe some glitter or pink flowers on a unbelievably white desk. (Seriously, who the hell has room on their desk for bud vases and what kind of “designer” can keep a desk pristine white without spilling coffee or ink or the leaky bits of yesterday’s lunch on it?)

These people are the opposite of “writers” though there’s some overlap, generally in the self-help genre. Most of the writers I know are surly, cynical, and will tell anyone who listens that there’s no money in writing, no money in publishing, that you’re going to need to keep your day job forever yet still probably die of a disease basic insurance could have cured, and that “writers write” everyday whether they want to or not, generally at the ass crack of dawn before going to the day job or in the middle of the night after tucking in all the children. They’re regularly drunk, over-caffeinated, under-medicated, bleary-eyed, and tend to wear their dysfunction like a badge of honor. They march around under a banner of “This Sucks and We Do It Because We Think We Have To or Maybe We Want To, We Don’t Know, But It Definitely Sucks.”

this sucks

Then there are the “creative entrepreneurs.” They are all sunbeams and rainbows and none of their unicorns are murderous. They seem to mostly be people who at one point made things (maybe?) like felted squirrel boutonnieres and embroidered planner bookmarks — things I can’t imagine anyone needing or buying, but that somehow hit a nerve with some pocket of hipsters who made the thing go whatever version craft viral causes someone to actually make a living on Etsy. Of course, eventually their fingers cramp or the market for antique cat crates dries up and they need something new to peddle. Hence, the rise of the coaching, coursing, self-help pamphlet bullshit industry.

They are wedding photographers who “tell stories” rather than just take pictures in between the shouting matches of in-laws and estranged sisters. They are the people hand-lettering signs for boutiques selling discounted felted squirrel boutonnieres and menus for events with mason jar champagne glasses. They are the stylists who blog about fashion on Tumblr, promote themselves on Snapchat, and will sell you an e-course on gaining Pinterest followers through better Instagram hashtags. They are all designing their own planner, especially for [insert super-specific niche market] and it’ll have gold coils and on-brand graphics that are equally pretty and bold to make your every to-do list come to life on the backs of glitter-coated fairies. All their Instagram accounts look the same because all their mood boards are pink and teal with white backgrounds dotted by peonies and antique cameras and cats eye glasses and any quote about following your passion over the positive thinking rainbow to thinness and wealth and brand-coordinated macaroons.

Untitled design

Unlike the writers, hunkered down in their post-economic-collapse, pre-climate-catastrophe studio apartments hoping to get through the next draft before they run out of antidepressants, the creative entrepreneur army will tell you to quit that day job, follow your passion, work it #girlboss, and for just three easy payments of $199, you can have all the SEO secrets to make a million dollars by using social media to promote your blogging about how you make your lizard socks from fair trade organic pug fur. There’s a lot of steps in the creative entrepreneur world. The first one tends to be buying an e-course or an e-book or some sort of “passive income” training that the presenter brags about having created in five hours, wants fifty bucks for, and will teach you to do the exact same thing for another fifty bucks. Because there can never be enough craft-e-preneurs selling the same branding class. Not if you think positively enough!

But, no, seriously…don’t quit your job. Eventually the world will run out of new people with the disposable income to pay $20 for your 20-page “book” about increasing followers through hand-crafted hashtags and you’ll wind up under the bridge with the writers who made $0.35 on their 400-page novel and they’ll have already had time to sharpen their sticks. That way lies madness. And glitter. There are only so many people willing to buy handmade things because most of the people are busy “hustling” at their own five jobs trying to cobble together enough money to stay indoors another month. They might want your finch-feather earrings, but they also want food that isn’t ramen and Walmart has pigeon-feather earrings on clearance and this is how you’ll eventually go from the ranks of the coached to the coach as you peddle your own expertise and start the bullshit cycle anew.

Which may sound like I’m being snarky and judgmental, but that’s not really my intention. I generally hate that sort of thing, and I mostly wish people would just let each other like what they like. At the same time, it pains my heart to see so many people line up to throw money at magical thinking while authors I adore, who actually think magically by creating worlds and people out of nothing, struggle. That, and I really want to see the scientific study proving that telling my mirror I deserve wealth will manifest money any better than saying “Bloody Mary” will cause a slumber party massacre.

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