There are as few agonizing decisions that you can make in your life as deciding to do something purely for yourself. It’s the kind of stuff that will drive you mad and feel so wrong, even if its what you’ve been clawing at for years. That’s what I was forced to do last week after months and months of being so amazingly burned out, stressed out and depressed over my work. It was all just too much for me, especially when I broke down how much work I was doing, how I never took days off and how when I did the math I was still making less than I did stocking shelves at Sam’s Club when I was in college.
In a way the whole thing was dehumanizing. I worked — a lot — almost endlessly, but the deluge of outstanding invoices, delayed payments, broken promises and investing all of my time and effort into a marathon session on a hamster wheel led me to feeling the cracks in my sanity. This was an ongoing process, to which I felt had reached its breaking point in January. Apparently not, though, because it’s August now and I finally decided to clear off my table completely and say “fuck it,” it’s time to do something different. Then again, I’m just stubborn, as my wife Lori will readily tell you.
It flew in the face of what I had promised myself that I’d do after I lost my job in December, 2010. I hated that job. I worked really hard at that job for years, my personality being such that when I do something I want to invest as much of myself as I can into it. So I did. Then things changed, I changed, the job changed, everything changed, but the expectations of me, a person who was fundamentally broken and damaged, didn’t change. They were exactly the same and I felt the need to continue forth with the grand charade. So I kept burning the candle at both ends and — amazing enough — I had burned out to the point where I loathed that job and had a grand plan to get the hell out. Grand plans are always grand, aren’t they?
So the past few years I’ve spent doing freelance writing, PR and journalism. It has been good, it has been bad. I guess people kind of know who I am in some circles now, which is a positive thing, but my main areas of expertise have become trying, dull, excessive, if not utterly worthless. I’ve turned down prestige jobs that don’t pay well enough, I’ve worked with some great people, I’ve worked with some terrible people. I’ve made some friends, I’ve also dealt with some awful, awful people. I’m over MMA, though. It’s over. I can’t do it anymore. What’s worse is that I’ve felt this way for a very long time.
When I released “The Godslayer” I had always intended for that to be it, for that to me saying goodbye to a sport that I grew up along and watched blossom into whatever the hell it is today. You could make some crass connections for Alek Turner to famous fighters, but the core of the character was always the ongoing internal monologue. Sure, many of those opinions were echoed in myself, although I personally don’t find much of myself in Alek Turner, but his thoughts on the development of the sport were, of course, very much rooted in my own beliefs.
What does all of this mean, you ask? It means over the coming weeks you’ll see less and less Dave Walsh bylines out in the wild, less unsigned press releases with my style stamped discreetly on them and my focus will instead be where I’ve always wanted it to be; on writing fiction. Does this mean no more 60+ hour work weeks? Probably not, honestly. I always work too much, probably always will, but now this work is for myself, not anyone else. I’ve got a really good chance to make a go of this right now, so I’m going to do everything in my power to make this fiction thing work out.
So it’s onward for me, even if it’s a little weird. I found a title for my novel that I like. Maybe I’ll tell it to everyone soon. Maybe.
“Can I start over? And get over it.”