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Marc Mason is a freelance writer based in Tempe, AZ.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009  

Am I doomed to be permanently second?

That’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. Why? Because it certainly rather seems like it. Like I’ve hit a place in my life where I will never, ever truly win. Or be allowed to. Like I’m gained some sort of mystical curse that gives me the latent ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

That I will always be second best, no matter what I am doing.

This concern stretches across all aspects of my life. Work? Sure. And when it comes to the day job, that’s sort of the only one I can live with; I work alongside absolutely incredible, talented people on the day job. Many of them have tons more experience than me, and it shows. Acceptable. But other work? That’s a different story.

Take CWR, for example. It’s been running on its bi-weekly magazine schedule for almost two years now. We’ve never missed a deadline. The site produces some consistently interesting and intellectually challenging material. But ultimately, it doesn’t have the audience that it should or that it deserves. I’m starting to run out of ideas for how to change that.

Is it because we only run every two weeks? In the beginning, CWR was a daily update site. The numbers were smaller then, as well. There are about three sites that are daily necessities for comics folk, and trying to add myself to that number was folly. Is it because we don’t run in a blog format? It seems like every site out there is running on Wordpress, and they all look the same. Should I sacrifice my integrity and stated desire to do something that looks different and stands out from the crowd? Those aren’t easy questions. Maybe that would make a difference. Or maybe we’d still be right where we’re at.

Maybe CWR has simply risen to where it belongs and where it will stay: as a second-tier website struggling for audience and respect. But I owe it to myself and to those who are writing for me to continue to try and make that push forward.

My personal life?

Looking at my dating history over the last two or three years, the consistent outcome for me has gotten to a point where it would be funny if it wasn’t so maddening. To wit:

The girl that really liked me, but decided that I don’t spend enough time outdoors (I’m an avid bicyclist that spends huge chunks of his fall-through-spring weekends outside, pedaling his way all over the city, mind you). The woman that decided that she needed to buy a business to run during the day and on weekends because her night job wasn’t fulfilling enough and then complained we never got to spend enough time together. When I pointed this out, I didn’t get even the slightest response that made sense. Except that I would be second. Always second.

So in that case, I was the first to leave.

If those were the only two, it would be one thing, but add another three or four, and you’ll be in the right vicinity. My fate seems to be thus: I am great/awesome/ideal BUT there might be someone better, so adios!

It kinda fuckin’ sucks.

And I can’t put it on any of the women (except the business owner- bleah). When a pattern emerges, and something is no longer just a coincidence, you have to look at the common denomenator and say “Dude, it’s YOU.” There’s something about me, something about my emotional and/or behavioral makeup, that makes me easily flushable.

I wish I knew what it was.

(I have some ideas, mind you, but some things even I can’t broadcast.)

Second on the job. Second in the heart. Second at the keyboard. I sit at the computer, writing the day away, and I turn out work that I know is good, quality, material. But the critic in me? He’s a bastard. And he judges that work as just that; good, but never rising to that next level. Never achieving the level that transcends my capabilities. Pathetic compared to so many others that I admire. Justthisclose to calling me a fraud. That’s right:

Even in part of my own brain, I’m always second best. What the fuck is wrong with me?

All I know for sure is: being second is excruciating.

What are the perks to being second? Confusion. Inability to trust. Being left in the dark. Self-loathing. Frustration. There are others, but why belabor it?

I don’t even know how to ask to NOT be second. What’s that plea like? “Please let the world stop kicking me in the crotch and cut me a break.” “I’d like to leave my neuroses at the gate for this project, okay?” How is that prayer structured? “Please fix me so I’m not so fucked that I drive people away. Amen.”

Two things I do know for sure: one, I have rambled on like a madman. And two, if you had many options for things to read right now, I’m guessing this one wasn’t the one you picked first.

8:35 PM

Well, considering how rarely this site pops up in my reader any more,when I see a post from you it's one of the first I read.

I think you rate yourself too harshly. In the day job, sure, there are some people who are more experienced than you, but there are way more who are not. And we look up to you for many great reasons!

Secondly, re:CWR - I admit that I would read it more often if there was an RSS feed. That's just me, and I'm not really the target audience.

And as far as your writing goes, almost every writer I know (or read their blog at least) has had this problem.

But the essence is, I think, that YOU don't rank yourself first. How can anyone else? This self-loathing thing has got to stop. You don't deserve that kind of hatred, especially from yourself.
I knew you many years ago (well, seven to be exact) and I still remember you as one of the funniest and most brilliant people I've ever encountered -- even though that encounter was only through work. You turned me on to Mark Leyner! And blogging. And you warned me about the horrors of graduate school and teaching (oh, if I had heeded them!). I only wish I worked (and studied) with people like you today... Hell, I'm running away from the stodgy Northeast back to the good ol' Wild West in hopes of that!

Anyway, I'm always happy when I see a new entry on Happy Nonsense. You're really fantastic...
Oh, I forgot to leave a name (well, initial)/url in my last comment. Cryptic messages are the worst. Perhaps you'll remember me!
Christine? Is that you? I'd love to catch up with you if so...

you bitch. get a fucking grip man. what a pathetic piece of shit youve turned out to be.
Wow- what a charming response from someone so gutless that they couldn't sign their name to it.
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