Sunday, April 19, 2009

Emerging from the Work Daze

Since about the middle of February, the day job has been running my life. One of my team members resigned and all of our studies had extremely urgent deadlines for a big conference next month. This past week marked the last of my current load of studies screaming at me with a red-hot deadline. The upside of all of this is that pretty much all of my studies are squeaky clean and caught up in all aspects.

The downside is that, for the past two months, the day job has been all-consuming and kicked me into career mode. Now that the insanity has passed, I'm having to work to remember how I had my life structured and ordered to address the day job, the family, the writing group, and the writing. Figuring out the juggling act for the first three hasn't been too hard, mostly because they have daily necessities that I can't just set aside after too long short-changing them. The writing, however...

To be honest, I've been kicking writing to the curb since December and maybe even November. At first it was because of family issues that needed a good deal of time and attention. Then it morphed into my desire to treat the day job like a career equal to or, at times, even above writing. I didn't make a conscious decision to do so, I just started with little thoughts and gestures here and there and, by the end of January, I had begun considering this job in terms of how to advance my company and myself over the next ten years. Then the recent madness hit and there was no time for thoughts outside of getting through each day, each week with most of my sanity intact and without entirely ignoring my husband and child or the requirements of my position in my writing group.

As the week wrapped up, and I found myself able to pick and choose which of the handful of non-urgent work tasks I could do, I started reminding myself that the day job is not the only career I want, that I have something else in mind for the rest of my life. So I dutifully mapped out what writing projects I wanted to dive back into and what outstanding issues they each had. As I read through a couple of short story drafts I want to shape up and submit and scanned through the novella-to-novel revision I haven't really touched since December, I ran into a new dilemma.

I've forgotten why I love each of these ideas.

Well, not in general. And not in any dangerous way that has me questioning if I really do want to pursue writing as a career. But in the specifics that made it not only fun but worthwhile to put the butt-in-chair, fingers-on-keyboard and face the inner critic's utter disdain for the prose that needs to be fixed. So I've been doing a decent amount of journaling and thinking and listening to story-inspired playlists to recapture the sense of joy I held for each of these projects even in the depths of the oh-so-pleasant bouts of "I SUCK I'LL NEVER PUBLISH OHMIGOD HOW COULD I EVER CONSIDER MYSELF A WRITER THIS IS VILE VILE VILE".

I'm hoping that one more night of a concerted effort to recapture the love will kickstart me into the regular writing schedule I really need to re-establish. I've got a lot of itchiness to be writing these stories, particularly the novella revision, so I'm not worried that there'll be nothing to resurrect. I just need to find the right access point, I think. Revising short stories wasn't it as all that idea netted me was depression over how far I have yet to go before I'm ready to break into publishing. (Silver lining time: I've figured out that about a third of the way into any project, I shift from character-driven stories to plot-driven mad dashes to the finish. And I'm finding that it's remarkably hard to reshift a plot-driven draft into a character-driven finished product. This is the silver lining because it's a problem defined. I can deal with well-defined problems.)

I think part of getting back into the regular swing of writing will also translate into regular blog posts. I know, I've said this many times before. It feels right to say it again, though. We'll see what comes of it.

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