Today was a train wreck, but not because anything bad happened, and not because anyone swooped down in the middle like some kind of drama condor to take a crap in the middle of it. It was…quiet. It was introspective.
It was something of a waste.
I woke up at an hour that would have had my grandmother howling about how much of my day I’d wasted before I’d even opened my eyes, but it was justified by my 2am arrival time at home the preceding night. I woke up restored and without aide of squalling digital devices that seem to want me to spring forth from my sumptuous bedding wide awake and ready to attack the day. I roused myself slowly, which is what works best for me, and made coffee, breakfast and filled the dishwasher. I even managed to wash the dishes and file some Magic cards, clearing some of the cardboard fungus from my cluttered desktop. I got a load of laundry in and I even finished reading the Harlan Ellison collection I’d been working on and finished listening to the Nabokov story I’d had running on my iPod. It wasn’t an unproductive day, even though I didn’t pull out the work computer.
But it was still wasted.
I didn’t write a damn thing. Other than this blog entry, that is.
I have a few ideas rattling around in my head at the moment. One needs to fester up there for a little while longer, so I’m not overly concerned about not getting any of it out on paper, but it just feels like with such a quiet day (my SO being out of the house for most of it), that I should have gotten something more important done. I’m a little regretful and ashamed of squandering a perfect day for writing.
There is a little more than an hour left, so I’m going to try to salvage it from the mess I’ve made of it.
So I set forth a personal goal to read a specific list of 25 books through the course of 2011, and decided to call this goal The 25 Book Challenge of 2011. I’m still working through the list and I’m trying to figure out if I’m going to be able to finish this imposing list by the end of the year. I have read two volumes on the list – and the third one I picked was the most imposing, and most engrossing volume of the list. I’m slowly falling in a sort of love with Harlan Ellison. Maybe not love, because I have a feeling that he would chew me up, spit me out and look for something with more substance. I have that mentally-itchy feeling that tells me that I’m learning a lot and I’m getting impatient to use what I’ve learned. Even though I’m reading as fast as I can and still retain both the substance of the stories and an understanding of why what he’s doing works, it’s slow work. Ellison’s writing is dense and the volume is thick, making it less convenient to pull out and read whenever. I’m not giving up on my goal, because I know it’s very possible to achieve, and this is only one book that’s slowed me down, but I’m not as confident that I’ll get all 25 in before year end. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know…
One of the iconic totem animals of my zodiac sign is a phoenix, which I’ve always found pretty nifty. The idea of knowing that I have the power to rise from the ashes of any screw-up I can manage to create is rather empowering…and intimidating. Knowing that this is one of my cosmically-bestowed gifts brings with it a unique type of pressure, and one I still haven’t figured out how to deal with consciously.
Everyone, of course, goes through stages of growth and development. Few, if any of us, are so cursed to be the same gawky kid that wandered through the halls of our high schools, though many of us may still carry some of those traits. I am still a voracious reader, and though my writing seems to have slowed proportionally to the amount of “free” time I have, I’m still writing. I still have a dream to become prolifically published, but I don’t have a crazy stalker-ish crush on the boy I nicknamed “Superman” during my formative years. I am significantly more comfortable with my geeky traits and actively seek to indulge them without an iota of guilt or shame. I am not as physically awkward, though I cannot claim full comfort in my skin, and I still have the tendency to be quite shy, particularly around men.
My loyalty, my tenacity and my disregard for my own interests is what’s getting in my way right now.
I love my job, though some of the characters on the stage are somewhat…challenging to deal with. I love being able to make a difference in the life of an individual even if on a small scale, and I enjoy being someone they can look up to, look to for help and know that while I won’t roll over and give them a cheap answer, I will challenge them with respect because of my faith in their abilities.
A previous supervisor told me I needed to learn to say no, and would intentionally set me up with impossible tasks only to (lovingly) fuss at me when I’d take it all on and spend 60 hours at work in any given week. Her exasperation at my willingness to cooperate was both admiration and concern in equal measure. She told me that my life would suffer if I didn’t learn how to step back from a challenge. I disagreed. I am, after all, Lois Lane (or so my high school year book Senior Memories states. Ahh, the warped things our first real “crush” makes us do…) and whether or not Superman rushes in to sweep me out of the flames of danger, I always seem to get out of any mess with nary a scrape or a torn stocking.
I really hate admitting when I’m wrong, even though I know it’s healthy and I will force myself to do it.
I was wrong.
…but I have valid reasons!
The job I’m in is in a growing company, and the job I’m doing has never been done there before. I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel, necessarily, but I am charting previously unexplored territory and drawing my own maps. This means trying to figure out how much time I really have available to allot to listening, critiquing and how much has to be feedback. When should I deliver feedback after listening, and how will that figure in to the conversation I need to have with them about bonuses, and how much time I can spend with the team lead under me to make sure she has the development SHE needs to lead the six under her?
My sense of loyalty screams “DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO MAKE SURE THEY ALL HAVE WHAT THEY NEED!” and the little voice from deep inside that’s waiting for me to sit down and work on my fiction again whimpers and says, “but what about me?”
I was taught to work hard. I have a Yankee work ethic. I am in a fast-paced, quick-changing, and rather unstructured environment where it’s difficult to say “I cannot be bothered between these hours.” I’m presented with new challenges daily from company figureheads and expected to work that in to the day to day with a “make it happen” kind of lassiez-faire. And my “real job,” the career I want to foster and have for decades beyond this one, is suffering. I’m trying to figure out where to draw the line in the sand, but the tide is coming in and it’s washing away my marks. So now the onus is on me to determine how I’m going to rise from the chaos of this formative fire and get everything I want out of the experience. I know I can do it, and I will, but the how has me a little stumped at the moment.
I wouldn’t recommend watching the flame, dear spectators, as I have a feeling it’s going to burn white-hot for a while. I wouldn’t want you to go blind before you have a chance to see my name in print… 😉
It’s my theory that everyone has an “epiphany place,” a place where those grand ideas strike with an open palm slap. From my personal research, it seems as though the “epiphany place” only exists where recording said thoughts is either incredibly inconvenient or impossible. A friend of mine receives epiphanies in the shower. Mine come when I’m either driving or laying in the bubble bath. One of them came today on my way home.
Let me back up just a little bit. The company I work for has significantly higher customer contact volume starting in the spring and letting up late summer/early fall. Our company is also rapidly expanding. We’ve tripled the number of staff in about a year and a half and we’re STILL hiring. Right about now, our volume is escalating faster than our staffing capabilities and there are a lot more demands on everyone in the building than normal. Everyone is doing the best they can, but everyone is stressed out. With so much pressure, I noticed that my desire to write is much stronger and the ideas are better, but when I make time to sit down and write, the quality is much diminished.
Not exactly something to get rid of said stress.
I know that it’s just a symptom and that it will pass, but it’s just frustrating. The pieces I have written are tucked away for now and I’ll review them when I feel I’ve gotten some distance from my emotional reaction to their quality, but I don’t think they’re going to be salvageable. But it’s time to get back to work again. Still more to accomplish before it’s time to call it quits for the day.