Hot Doctors and Self-Hating Artists
Here at Roam Miami, the co-living place where we're currently living, most of the residents are digital nomads like Michael and me. But some are using the place for temporary housing for other reasons. For example, one New York hospital sends a lot of doctors here during their residencies.
Because there aren't enough gunshot wounds and automobile accidents in the emergency rooms of New York City. But apparently, Miami is ground zero for that kind of thing. If you're a doctor, and you're learning how to work an emergency room, this is apparently the place to be.
That part is incredibly morbid.
The less morbid part is that these young doctors have all been men, and incredibly hot. Seriously, it's ridiculous. Each one is more handsome than the last.
They also all seem to be very nice guys, which is even more ridiculous.
(Alas, actual hot doctors not pictured.)
I was chatting with one the other day, and he had me thinking about my life as a writer. Basically, his residency was over in a matter of months, and he was wondering which great, expensive city he wanted to move to set up shop. The subtext was that he could basically move to any city in the United States, and immediately land a great-paying job. The world was his oyster.
The thing is, I remember that kind of optimism when I was in my twenties. I had always done well in school, and was usually considered one of the smartest kids in class. I was literally voted Most Likely to Succeed.
Then I chose to become a novelist/screenwriter.
Now I'll grant you that any profession in the arts is incredibly competitive. Writing is a creative and romantic activity that most people do for free. Even going into this career, I knew it wouldn't be easy to make a full-time living.
But hey, I was the Most Likely to Succeed, right?
I quickly learned that an actual career in the arts is mostly an unrelenting stream of rejection and criticism, and a non-stop stream of petty and not-so-petty humiliations. And I really wasn't prepared for the fact that success, if and when it finally happens, seems almost entirely random. I've made my living mostly from writing fiction for more than twenty years, and I really love what I do. But it's still left me in this near-constant state of low-level anxiety where I'm excited over what I'm writing, but also vaguely dreading that it might be rejected, or accepted but then fail for some other reason. I'm basically always on the verge of panic.
Will I ever sell another book? If I do, will it flop? Will this screenplay ever get produced? If it does, will it flop too? And what about my friend who just won the National Book Award, or had his or her book turned into a movie? I'm happy for them, of course, but why doesn't that kind of thing ever happen to me?
Most of the artists we hear a lot about (people like Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, and Meryl Streep) are rich and famous and lauded, at the absolute tops of their fields. But I bet even they struggle with anxiety.
The rest of us? Fuhgeddaboudit! There's a reason why a lot of artists drink. No, seriously. It's hard not to think we're one flop from being shown the door.
The thing is, I'm not sure most doctors feel this kind of career anxiety. At least the ones I'm meeting don't seem to. If they're good at what they do, and they work hard, they almost guaranteed a lifelong career and pretty great income, right?
I'm happy for these doctors. I'm also sure some of my perspective has to do with age, and my own ignorance about the careers of doctors. And in the end, I wouldn't do my own life any differently.
But I confess I'm a little jealous of their optimism.