God. Wow. It’s been a month since I last posted. Where does the time go?
When you’re unemployed, time gets…I don’t know…Funny. You’re pulled in a lot of different directions at once by all of these should-be-dones. All of these things that you never had time for before. Personal obligations that were put off. Socializing, exercise, writing, trying to find that job that’s actually meaningful to you. It becomes chaotic and unfocused. You get less done than you did when you were working.
So you pull back. You compress. Simplify. Dedicate yourself to lists and structure and, in the process, overcompensate. Getting your appointed tasks done in a given day becomes so important. The stuff that you’re doing becomes work. It becomes your job. And everything else starts to slip. You’ve gone too far in the other direction.
Thankfully, I’ve never been one of those people who stops showering or getting up in the morning when I feel bad or don’t have anywhere to be. The furthest I get down that road is going a few days between shaves. Or maybe I don’t floss every once in a while.
That’s neither here nor there, though, because the point is that in the past month I’ve kind of let this novel go. I brush it off and fiddle with it every once in a while, but for the most part I focus on trying to land job interviews or coming up with short stories that I can shop around. I neglect the job that I have—the job that I have given myself—because I need something more immediate and paycheck-inclusive in my life right now, and because I get to a point in my day where I can choose between writing and decompressing and I always go with decompressing because everything else in my life is all about stress and uncertainty right now.
Which sucks. It’s a shitty thing to deal with because it comes down to doing more work or doing something that I like and makes me feel good for a little while. And I do like writing, and it does make me feel good, but it also feels like work right now and I just want to avoid an ulcer.
Maybe that’s on me, though. Maybe it’s because of the attitude that I’ve developed towards writing. When the semester ended last December I joked that I was becoming a full time writer again for a month, and that felt good. And when it became clear that the college wasn’t going to call me in for contract renewal back in January I told myself more or less the same thing. The joke was gone, though.
After that, I stopped writing and started working. When asked what I was going to do on a given day, I would say, “Oh, I’m going to work on the book.” When I cleaned up the lunch dishes, I would look at the dog and say, “Okay. Back to work.” Troubleshooting plot and character problems used to be “playing,” but now it’s “fixing” or “cleaning.” Everything about my attitude towards my craft has become more clinical and formal, and, ultimately, less rewarding.
So. I don’t know. I guess I’ve got to make this less of a chore again. I’m not going to write about my commitment to getting this damn thing done again. I’ve spilled way to many words on that subject as it is. It’s getting done and that’s final. I’ve got to find a way to make it work, though.
I’ve got to fall in love with what I do again.
I don’t know.
I’ll get back to you.