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Writing as a Generation Xer

 I am fascinated by how the expectations thrust upon us by peers, parents, or society effect chasing your dreams. It seems like there is a line in the sand and you're either "responsible" or you're a "slacker."

My thoughts are based largely on my own experience. I am a Generation X'er. Here are a few traits that they attribute to my generation:

 Individualistic: Generation X came of age in an era of two-income families, rising divorce rates and a faltering economy. Women were joining the workforce in large numbers, spawning an age of “latch-key” children. As a result, Generation X is independent, resourceful and self-sufficient. In the workplace, Generation X values freedom and responsibility. Many in this generation display a casual disdain for authority and structured work hours.

Value Work/Life Balance: Unlike previous generations, members of Generation X work to live rather than live to work.

 It's like they climbed into my head and wrote those. See, I was that latch-key kid, my parents were divorced, and my mom worked full time. My younger sister and I thought nothing of taking care of ourselves after school every day.

So what does this have to do with writing? Well, for me, everything.

Having watched it first-hand growing up, I have no intention of working a 9-5 until I'm 70. I don't want to retire and then "start doing what I want to do." This, by the way, drives my mother insane. "What about stability? Life is work, work, work and then play. What are you going to do in ten years? Twenty?" Instead of instilling fear of the unknown into me, it only makes me shrug and answer, "Who knows what will happen between now and then."

I have seen people work themselves to the bone chasing a dangling carrot, only to die before they ever caught it. That lesson has hit very close to home more than once. I do not want that for myself, or my family. I want to live every day. I want to do the things I want to do, not when I'm too old to enjoy it, but right now! (Another quality of Gen X'ers is their need for instant gratification. heh)

So I write. This gives me the opportunity to satisfy the "something for me" drive that burns inside. I also write with the hope that one day in the near future, I can cut my hours back and have the best of both worlds, stability and freedom. I think for me personally, that would be a perfect world.

I know that as each generation comes of age, there are more and more old-timers who say that kids these days have no sense of "real" responsibility, and yes, that is true when you define it as working all your life, but the freedom of choice can often lead to great things. Outside the box thinkers and doers are what propel us forward. I encourage my own kids to question, to find their passion, and to follow their own dreams.

No one did that for me, and maybe it would not have taken until I was 35, and the loss of my dad, to find the courage to chase my own dream and write my first words.

So tell me: Do you chase your dreams full on? Do you think the generation you were born into effects the way you do?

Lee Bross

Lee lives her happily ever after on the coast of Maine where she has written Tangled Webs, her historical YA debut, and fantasy YA books Fates and Chaos under pen name Lanie Bross. She also writes contemporary books for New Adult under the name L.E. Bross, debuting with Right Where You Are.

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  1. I'm an Xer, too, and I remember looking at some of the mid-lifers in my master's writing program when I was in my twenties and thinking THANK GOD I'M DOING THIS NOW because I knew I would have my whole life ahead of me to grow as a writer so that when I am in my sixties, hopefully I'll actually be good at it and have multiple books out. I've always felt my tail on fire to write now just in case something does happen and then I never get the chance. I read a quote recently, too, that said something about instead of looking forward to your next vacation, make your life something you don't need to take a break from. That really resonated for me. Of course I work a day job, but I do really try to find something beautiful in every day, because life is so short and you just never know. I assume I'll die in harness because I won't be able to afford to retire, but that harness might be made of my books, and that would be a pretty awesome harness.

    1. I love that quote and am going to try and incorporate that attitude into every day life as well. :)

  2. This post resonates with me. I too came from a broken family, living with a fulltime working parent, being a latch key kid, and chasing my dreams... not because I can't work a 9-5 job but because I don't want to work a 9-5 job.

    Generation X has created a plethora of writers, artists, and entrepreneurs. And as a Gen X, I can see the benefits we've instilled into society and the forthcoming generations.

    We want to live the dream, so we're pushing our children to do the same, and because of this, we are creating some brilliant, creative, talented minds that are able to flourish at much younger ages than we can even imagine.

    I'm happy to be an Xer!!! :)

  3. Hi fellow X-ies!

    All of this is true.

    I think a common thread for Gen X was the guilt trip. I turn 36 later this year and I still struggle with a feeling of guilt when I consider my passions as necessary or serious.

    I think a lot of kids I went to school with were told that work and passion are mutually exclusive. I was instructed to "get a real job" and have my passion on the side. Passion = hobby. Passion was "irresponsible".

    So I set the poetry aside, along with the paint brushes and guitar...

    And it is only now after I married, divorced, had a child, did the Bachelor of Business (not passionate about that one), got the home loan, bought the car... only 'now' do I feel I have done enough to be entitled to follow my passion - just a bit... or to allow myself to take 'what I feel I am meant to do in life' seriously.

    I'm now writing poems and essays again. I'm also learning the banjo! I dropped my work hours and am going back to Uni next month to study Psychology - which is what I wanted to do all along.

    I think for me, and perhaps a fair few Gen Xers, there comes a point where we realise that we aren't getting any younger. We see that our passions weren't withheld from us so much as we allowed them to be degraded.

    In reality, if we are not embracing our passion, we are not our selves - and that just doesn't make any sense, does it!? Here's to a passionate life of creative pursuit which doesn't mean financial ruin after all.... and sets a damb good example to our children as far as living a balanced life :-)

    Thanks for the article.

    -Chelsea (Australia)


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