Hello friends! On Wednesday I turned 24 and on Wednesday I put out a new zine! If you're interested in buying it, you can do so HERE. It's a few essays that I either didn't want to post here or that weren't very long so it didn't feel like enough. It's also a list of some thoughts I've been having. However, I realize that one of the more effective ways to promote it is to, in fact, undermine the situation that led to its creation and post here.
This one's about panicking about my future and my lack of "hustle" or whatever. Enjoy.
Lately I’ve been going to a bar where I spend too much money with one of my closest friends I’ve made since leaving Chicago. We sit and we talk about everything, but mostly their real career and my fake one and our shared experience of having hyper-critical mothers. We have at least four drinks.
Last time we did this I went back to my new apartment and had a meltdown online about writing. I’m not desperate for a career, but I find myself desperate to want one. I’m desperate to at least want to try to write professionally. The thing is that I don’t want it. I think every aspect of actually pursuing freelance writing is so disgustingly depressing, but I feel like I should want it. I should want to make money doing the thing I like to do. Why would I not want that?
I wrote something for one of the Bigger Music Websites a couple months ago and my friends said things like, “this is a good step forward for you!” It felt like a betrayal to myself not to believe that, so I tried to believe it. I’ve spent the time since trying to build up the courage and energy to pitch a specific idea I thought was good to the editor that I worked with on that “good step forward.”
Then, as I drunkenly melted down with all these feelings of failing to even want to try hard enough to be considered a failure crashing on me, a musician I know replied:
My sage advice is that you don’t have to monetize your passions.
Now, this is one of those obvious things that anybody could think but being told it directly makes more of an impact for whatever reason. I know I don’t have to write as a career. More than that, I know that’s something few even get to do, what makes me so special that I feel like it’s my choice? I shouldn’t feel ashamed for not wanting it when I know I’d be pursuing a space in an industry that underpays, devalues, and burns people out constantly. I do things creatively all the time that I don’t feel shame for doing just because I like doing them. Writing shouldn’t be any different.
So why does it feel different? Is it social media dopamine poisoning? Maybe, but attention online feels increasingly hollow and scarier than satisfying. Is it because I don’t have anything else going for me other than time spent building connections with people in the music writing sphere?
Well, yeah, it’s actually probably that. Didn’t expect to end that thought there, but hey sometimes you surprise yourself.
At the core of this breakdown is that quitting law school was a decision that felt so correct. It was also a decision that left me in limbo. I didn’t have a next step and didn’t know how to answer the follow up question of what I was leaving it for. The answer is that I left it because it was destroying me and I knew I didn’t want to be a lawyer. The person I was when I took the LSAT in June of 2019 feels unrecognizable.
I was twenty-one. I was scared. I was floundering in that gross apartment in Wrigleyville I chose over Los Angeles back in January and going to work as a barista at a donut shop at 4:42 AM every day. I was dating someone who was increasingly erratic and angry all the time. I’d started making zines and was hiding back into the internet again to escape the present, but my eyes were set forward. Law school felt like a way out of this. It was a clear path and plan that I destroyed when I stopped going to class back in March.
I think I knew when I started law school it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I was six months into a pandemic and suddenly everything felt smaller. My future felt less and less consequential. Hundreds of thousands of people are dying and I have to sit in seminars about why wealthy people with fancy degrees are mass addicted to cocaine and how to make sure I don’t become one of them. Thousands of people are dying due to indifference in prisons, but I have to debate why I think prison doesn’t work with girls whose dads are prosecuting attorneys.
I was trying to be okay with feeling uncertain and not having a clear path, but I looked at my life and without law school all I had was weird little connections through writing. Anybody who listens to my podcast knows I could never be a reviewer, but I like doing interviews and I like writing longer form pieces that potentially could have homes at publications. My relationship with writing fell apart and continues to fall apart because all I have is that, but I know what music writing as an industry is and I don’t want to do it.
I’ve been trying to focus on reading more physical books and zines lately and listening to music on vinyl. Maybe trying to perceive writing as something I can do more as an expression of creativity and feeling than a cog in the service of sales will make me enjoy it. Maybe that was it won’t feel like the last two years of my life were a total waste. Maybe I’ll finish this zine. That separation is the only thing that has brought me any level of peace, but it still doesn’t solve any of my problems.
I don’t know how to be okay with not having any real direction. I have a job now and I have these things I do— thank you for reading this if I did finish it! — but I can’t shake what I know is at least partly my own self sabotage.
Just about a year ago I talked to a writer I admire in Chicago, and he asked me if I’d thought about writing for publications. I gave him a firm no that I think was more born of fear and insecurity than it was of real disinterest. I don’t know that the fear of embarrassment and failure has subsided more than it’s morphed into a fear of ruining something I like with work—both writing and music.
Two birds with one stone. Whatever.
If you pay for this newsletter and would like a copy of the zine, please reply to this email with your mailing address or dm me. Thank you endlessly for reading my silly little words.
Miranda Reinert is a music adjacent writer, zine maker, and law school drop out based in Philadelphia. Follow me on Twitter to hear more about music and see me panic about my future in real time: @mirandareinert. I also have a paid tier of this newsletter for $5 a month or $45 a year! If you do that I'll give you at least one free zine if you email me an address! Wow! Might want to get in on that! You may also just send me small bits of money at @miranda-reinert on venmo if you want. But as always, thanks for reading!