Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I don't think I need to password protect my blog. The other night, I played around with new templates for awhile. If I am going to make a little home here again, I need to dress it up a bit. I really like CSS and blog design, but I don't want to get caught up in that right now. This is orange and swirly. That makes me happy. I really respond to bright colors.

But after it was all dressed up, I felt sort of paralyzed. So, I wrote one of the most maudlin and whiny blog posts that has ever been written. And had the good sense to realize early into it that I did not have to push that orange button that says PUBLISH POST. I could hit the soothing blue SAVE NOW button. So, that is what I did.

Yesterday morning, I decided to go on strike. "Against what?" Dereck asked me via IM. I thought I could detect a certain wariness in his tone (except that he was typing, so I was projecting). "Against the crazy," I told him. Not the crazy so much as the depression, the endless loop of frustration I've been caught in. When I wrote that blog post Sunday night, I didn't have any idea how I could get off the merry-go-round. But somehow, yesterday, I knew.

It was sort of a combination of things that revealed themselves. I closed the computer yesterday, determined not to spend all day either looking for jobs or sending off resumes or wondering what I was missing. I grimly assessed that if I were smarter or more creative, I'd have found a way through, out, or around this. I decided that every other person on God's green earth gets to spend time cleaning their house without fear of judgment because they are cleaning instead of searching for more employment. So, in that case, I could spend some time on hearth and home too. In fact, I think it's generally encouraged.

I vacuumed, and then I got a basket full of unmatched socks. I turned on the television and stopped surfing at 8 Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. I wanted to see Kasey Cuoco in it, as I like her character Penny on The Big Bang Theory. Of all the episodes to be airing, my introduction to the show was the episode in which the family deals with Paul's sudden death, which mimicked that of John Ritter, the beloved actor who died far too young. I sat and folded and sniffled a bit. With the second load of clothes, I got smarter and put on some Lie to Me.

While I was vacuuming and folding and sniffling and watching, I sort of gave my unconscious mind a break while I was awake and let it work on some stuff for awhile. A friend asked me last week if she could hire me to help her with some writing. I agreed, and she was happy with the results, and I got a little ego boost and a reminder that my lack of projects right now is not because I am incompetent. And by projects, I mean outside of my part-time contract here in town. But that contract is up on March 31, 2011.

So, as a result of doing this work and kind of calming down all day to take care of my home and things for my family, I found myself blurting out a small business idea to a friend. So, that's something I hope to launch soon. Last night at dinner, Dereck and I were talking about the permaculture center here in town. We were saying that it's hard to go backward in time and also standard of living to a permaculture kind of life. Maybe if we didn't have teenagers, we could consider it. Maybe sometime we will. But that conversation, paired with all the crocheting I've been doing, and a reminder that I make really good bread (I'm trying not to be boastful, but really. I have earned my stripes.). And suddenly it started to gel that when I had a much busier schedule as a medical writing consultant, I still got my paychecks from a number of different sources. It takes getting used to. Having a set monthly income is a gift, and I've had it long enough now to get soft. I have become dependent on it-- and despondent at the thought of no longer having it.

Wow. Need to get a grip.

Really, it's technology that we would have a hard time giving up. Both the acquisition of it and the monthly fees to sustain: internet, cell phones, cable, World of Warcraft, and so on. But how much do we *need*? What and where can we cut so that it is feasible for me to pursue things like writing a lot more while still putting bread (no matter who makes it) on the table? And why is it important for me to be able to pursue that right now? Because it's time. It's time for me to seize my career instead of waiting for it to come and invite itself in. And not just a way to make money. I want a career. And my vocation is that of writer. So, in order to have a career, I must write. And in the spaces in between, I will write grants and edit manuscripts, I will crochet hats and scarves, and I will bake bread, and do whatever else I can to bring in money. I want, but do not need, new shoes for Fall. I want but do not need to buy new books. Jen, meet Library. We have put our Netflix on hold.

And all of this is because I'm a freaking ant and not a grasshopper. If you looked at my bank balance, you might think I was being premature. However, I look at that and think, "Income in April. Okay, now think about May." Being an ant is hard. You are so small that every crumb you carry back to your hill or your nest or your hive or your swarm or wherever it is that ants have to travel to makes just a tiny dent in the amount of food you all need to survive the winter. I'm an ant making tiny dents, almost imperceptible to the human eye.

But what I have come to see this week, thankfully, as a way to preserve my own mental health and the subsequent happiness of my family, is that what was working before-- making my entire living from medical editing-- is no longer working. I need a different infrastructure, a different way of looking at how much money I think I need to earn, and from where I feel I need to earn it. If my primary identity and career are that of WRITER, then anything I am doing that is not writing is feeding my family. However, the WRITER will feed me. And frankly, I'm starving to death.


  1. You are a writer. I can so clearly hear your voice and understand what you are saying. You have a gift Jen.

  2. So lovely to read your writing again.

  3. I always feel like I get too caught up in the look of my blog instead of the content. Even now, I have the itch to change it up, but I'm trying to give myself a deadline (like, when I hit 10,000 visits I'll give it a new look, or something).

    As an artist to another artist, you need to feed it. Since I've been doing more music, it's been feeding an important part of my soul. Do it!