Can’t I just disappear for a while?

This morning I got up, dragged my sorry rump off to work, got stuck in traffic and rolled into work late. Not awesome. I was able to stay late to make it up, no problem. The bigger problem was that when I hit the parking lot and climbed out. My first thought was “I am so done, so done.” To be clear, I don’t hate my job, but I’m so so busy, so incredibly busy. I know I claim to be a writer and should easily be able to describe how many flavors of busy I am and how it feels to work in an environment so saturated with crises that everyone seems to think adding unnecessary crises is a pretty good idea  – you know to really show how busy we are, but the best I can come up with is that I can’t finish a current task without having two more added to the list. My colleague and I have written about 120 reports in the past five months. To add some context to that, this is roughly the annual throughput of the entire team prior to our arrival. As this is my job and I’m well compensated for it, it should be YAY us, we’re freaking awesome. Nope. Not feeling it -I’m tired.

Last weekend, the wife and I went to Seattle, sans children, to have a romantic stress-free weekend. This was fully achieved, it was great. I don’t care how many homeless people I didn’t see or how much I didn’t have my car broken into or any of those things that happen in big cities. I frikkin’ loved Seattle. LOVED. I figured the trip would really recharge my batteries. It did for about a day. Then, I came back and reality hit again.

I have made myself so busy, I now feel guilty about the 1 hour a week I’m devoting to watching Westworld. I’ve got a demanding job, for which I’ve recently had a title change that I can’t tell anybody about that because apparently something got screwed up, I don’t know what got screwed up, just that I have a shiny new meaningless title and I’m also pretty sure everyone thinks I’m slacking. On top of that, I’m trying to start another company for another company, which is NOT going as hoped. I’m also trying to write 2 (no, actually 4, but only two actively) books AND I’m trying to get a book published on inkshares – that’s not going great, but I’m doing the best I can to promote without being absolutely insufferable. To continue to add to the list, I’m writing a recipe article for my wife’s dad’s newspaper (any suggestions? – due tomorrow, looks like). Then, last but not least, I’m trying to keep up on my blog, which (obviously) is not going well. I’m so damn over-taxed that I’ve tried about half a dozen posts in the last week or two and have gotten just past the “hey, I had this great thought I wanted to share” point and realized I didn’t have the mental energy to get to the point and wrap it.

Yesterday, I started the audiobook for Felicia Day’s autobiography – it’s called something about being weird on the internet, don’t ask me the title, I’m too lazy to pick up my iPod or open another tab to Google it and get it right. This audio book is good, I mean I love her work, and think she’s a spectacular writer. I’m pretty sure the book is meant to be a ‘rah-rah, love yourself and follow your dreams’ sort of story. Well, it didn’t work for me. I pretty much finished it and have more or less come a way thinking that this woman is brilliant and talented, and I am not, and no amount of hard work I put into anything is going to amount to anything one tenth so brilliant.

Part of the reason I’m so busy at work is that I’ve built a system that lends itself to extremely rapid adhoc report development. Someone can ask me the question: How many CCU visits resulted in this particular diagnosis in August & September 2016 and the same for 2015. I can spin that around in like 20 minutes. The usual timeline for an adhoc like that is like six months – largely because it would take 3-6 hours, maybe more, and it doesn’t count as a big important thing, so it gets dropped to the bottom of the list. In any case, having built this system up, I am becoming ‘the guy’. I’m not the only ‘the guy’, but I am one, and so I’m in demand. On one hand, you could call this a win and say it’s brilliant within my work context, but I don’t see it that way. I still have 50 unresolved tickets and have a mountain of documentation and training materials, plus hours of meetings and requirements gathering for more reports, I don’t have much of a handle on planning or even progress, my whole project management game is shit, really. Basically, I have worked my ass off and am further behind than when I started. This is not a win, nor is is anything like brilliant.

I wrote a book I love and characters I think are awesome. That book received 0 response from more than 40 agents and has not gained any sort of momentum on inkshares. I have had TREMENDOUS support from so many people, who are endlessly sharing and tweeting and pre-ordering, but with less than a month and more than 200 copies to go. The win is looking beyond remote. That book is very unlikely to see the light of day. I can’t tell you how much THAT makes me feel like I’m letting folks down. So much support, and I’m unable to make the win. When you crowd-fund like that, the project becomes the project of everyone who supported, and for me to not hit the magic number is an ENORMOUS failure to deliver for EVERY SINGLE PERSON who has helped and been generous and supportive.

I’m not stuck on my other works as much as I simply haven’t got the time to work on them as much as is necessary to finish any one of them. I mean, I do write -every day. Sometimes, I get super productive and knock out 2K in a single night, but those nights are rare and with so little energy to spare, the best I can do is read through what I wrote on one of those WIPs and think about how much work remains.

So.

Here I am.

I don’t have the bandwidth. I just want to walk away from all of it. I’m tired and my motivation for doing more than coming home, having a beer and falling asleep on the couch is basically non-existent. I clearly haven’t got the drive or talent of a person capable of pulling off any of what I’ve set out out to do. The hard part is that I can’t help but try. I suppose that for every ‘I worked my ass off to get here’ story you get, you get as many ‘I worked my ass off and I’m no further down the road than I was ten years ago’ stories. Anyhow, now I’m off to work on something that requires my attention.

Maybe stupidity and unrelenting stubbornness will pay off at some point?

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Writer’s ego: success

ego

I’m really not falling off of the blog-wagon, just too busy to mash together any ideas longer than 140 characters. Anyhow, I did have a thought the other day that I want to share, although it’s a rather incomplete thought. What came across my mind is the product of a challenging month, both positive and negative. It’s about success. Success comes in two parts:

1: convincing yourself and others you can do something,
2: proving it.

Before I go much further, I want to point out that I don’t consider myself a particularly successful person. No doubt I’ll be called out on this one, because I’ve done alright, but I’m really not where I want to be, and I fail badly at #1.

It’s one thing to sit in an interview and wax poetic about your skills and abilities, and perhaps even be convincing enough to satisfy the hiring manager(s) that you are, in fact, all that and more. This is well and good, but it’s only part of the story. Once you walk into that new job or contract, the clock starts ticking to prove yourself. I’ve hired a lot of people. Some try too hard to prove themselves and miss the mark, after all they were hired for a particular task. I’ve hired others who come in, identify the needs and push to excel in meeting those, and I have absolutely hired people that have come in and upon being hired feel there isn’t any need to prove themselves, or only give it a token effort.

I think it’s the same with writing, well any craft really. An amazing sales pitch might sell lots of books, but what’s that worth if the story stinks? Conversely, I could write an amazing story with fabulous commercial potential, but if I can’t make the sales pitch, nobody will ever know. Both of these things need to happen. As much as I’d like to be a professional, full-time writer, I recognize I’m chasing a dream. I’m fine with that, but I would like people to read and enjoy my story.

I could sit here and blog all day long about how well I write, maybe convince a few folks that I can tell one hell of a story. However, without a damn good story to stand behind, what does it even mean? What does it mean if I’ve written an excellent story and haven’t been able to convince anyone they should take a look at it?

I have no idea.

I don’t really know where I was going with that. Perhaps I just want to make the point that this is something I struggle* with.


 

* Beat myself up.

Writer’s ego and perfectionism

ego

“You’re a writer, surely you can find a better adjective.”

That came from my wife last week. I probably could have come up with a better adjective. What I couldn’t do though, and this still bothers me for some reason, was identify with that label.

Writer.

To me, writer, implies a level of professionalism and accomplishment, at least as far my own work is concerned. It’s not that I object to anyone who can identify themselves with that label. In fact, I wish I could bring myself to say: Hello, I’m a writer. I’m just not there yet. I don’t have anything in a state where I could justify it.

I feel like this is a symptom of “writer’s ego.” (No, I can’t call myself a writer, but I totally have one of these.) It’s the same thing that makes me kick and scream like a spoiled child when I get feedback explaining that something isn’t working. It’s also the same thing driving me on -that little voice saying “this project is a serious, professional piece of work, and it will launch my professional writing career.”

Normally, the screaming child part of me eventually shuts up so that I can fix what’s wrong, and the part of me fantasizing about being a professional writer becomes humble so I can focus on improvement. However, this identification thing is causing a problem. On one hand, who cares about being labeled a writer, if you enjoy doing it, then it doesn’t matter what you’re called. Well, I suppose I do care, and I care because a failure to associate with the label is a symptom of not taking myself seriously.

I may be a bit of a slob, but when it comes to crafting, I’m a perfectionist. When I set out to do something, it is NOT half-assed. My wife will attest to this character flaw. Case in point:

Electric bass

Homemade electric bass

Except for the neck, and electronics, I designed and made this. It is my second attempt at making a musical instrument, the first was from a kit. I am not a luthier, nor am I a particularly fine woodworker, but this thing sounds pimp, and I am still completely unsatisfied with it. That said, I’m not going to go into the odd details I hate that no one will ever notice.

I spend at least an hour a night writing, and many more hours discussing plot, characters, setting, and so on with my wife and anyone else who’s foolish enough to listen. On those days I commute to work, much of that drive is spent thinking about my story. Not only that, when I get to a bit of story containing details I’m unfamiliar with, I start researching. On one occasion, I was at the table with a bit of string and my map. “What the hell are you doing there?” My wife asked. It was pretty obvious to me. I was doing a rough measurement of a road to make sure the the distances and travel times I had were plausible.

So, with all of that effort, shouldn’t I be taking myself seriously? After all, I want others to. If I write my book and publish it, it’ll be hard to convince folks it’s a good read, if I haven’t even convinced myself. Just one more thing to work on I suppose.


photo credit for header photo: ego via photopin (license)