For the second time in a year, I’m packing up files from my study. I worked as a manager for a small company for many years in a variety of configurations from a downtown office, to part-time, to a home office, dependent on my parenting stage and business economics. In March, I handed off all those files to another delightfully competent human being.
Today, I’ve been clearing out my school PTO files and supplies, having decided to resign as president of the organization to focus on life at home. When it comes to organization, I’ve got mad skills. Things are labelled and filed, sorted and categorized. I can generally find things when I need them. I can take boxes of paperwork and like some sort of home makeover show, an hour later, they are part of a system. What I lack in people skills, I overcompensate for in filing.
A person is never as bad or as good as they believe they are. Despite a pattern of being in leadership roles, I am very impatient with myopic thinking. At some point, exchanges get unpleasant when the veneer of civility wears thin under stress. I’m not proud of this and I have often wished I were better at dealing with people. What if I don’t need to berate myself about that anymore?
I’ve been pondering those social skills, as I let go of yet another vestige of social interaction. My role had me interacting daily with parents, teachers and administration. Now I will be a SAHMWLANFOIHOFHEOH. Sorry, I think stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) is reductive, like most labels, even if I feel happy that this is a choice for me. But I’ve hit the point of no excuses for not getting my first novel revised, a second novel drafted and writing to my heart’s content.
I daydream that my husband and I will start off the day, lying in bed and talking quietly. I don’t have to leap up and “get things done” at the crack of dawn. I think about sitting down with my mother-in-law sipping coffee at leisure. I don’t look at my phone. I’m not in a hurry. I listen attentively to stories I’ve heard a thousand times. I imagine smiling as my daughter re-enacts whatever 5th grade drama happened that day or talks excitedly about the cool mod she just added to Minecraft. My mind is not drifting. I’m not fidgeting. I’ve been writing all day, so I am present, in the moment with her.
Who will I be without the busy-ness? Will I learn to slow down or will I, as my friends and husband insist will happen, find something else to fill the space up with? I never knew I was that kind of person. I love solitude, but often my solitude is still doing, not being. Can I be okay not constantly being in service to a cause or a task? Will I find the sense of uselessness overwhelming? Will I get over the feeling that without work or volunteerism, I’m a self-indulgent prat?
The answer to many of those questions is that I will likely be the same person with the same need to be the same way. What do I do with that?
Turn the kaleidoscope just a notch.
A lifetime of organization and juggling – how can I redirect those skills? I’ve begun forcing myself to read about the routes to publishing, having lived comfortably in denial that I’m even close to that stage. But I have a long learning curve, so I’m trying to educate myself along the way. There’s a lot of pieces to it, from marketing and promotion and public appearances. Contracts to figure out. Covers to pick. E-books to mangle.
Organization. Check. Research and asking questions. Check. Dogged determination. Check. Going outside my comfort zone. Always. Detail-oriented. Indeed. Public speaking. Been there, done that. Direct, no nonsense communication. Perfect for business.
Oh yeah, and that whole writing thing? I’m on it. Hours when the only jackass I have to deal with is me.
And there it is. Just a tilt of the head. Shift perspective. Nothing lost and everything to be gained.Some resources online for the path to being a working writer:
I haven’t read John Scalzi’s books (yet), but started reading his blog several months ago. He’s a busy writer at home and on the road. He’s also opinionated with an edge that I admire. He is the kind of working writer I’d like to be – straightforward, hands on and in charge of his career. And I love his no-nonsense blog comment policy.
Francis Guenette has published two books and blogs about the ups and downs of writing and self-publishing. I enjoyed reading about her experiences navigating everything from blog tours to life near the lake…with bears.
David Gaughran writes about the world of self-publishing. It is an eye-opening blog about navigating the rough waters of self-publishing, from the perils of vanity presses to the jaw-dropping tactics of traditional publishers. He is a great resource for the writer entrepreneur.
I’ve been reading her blog for the last year and at some point will read her Self-Printed: A Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing. What I enjoy most about her blog is that she seems to be having fun in a process that is often painted as complete drudgery.