I’ve actually known this curve was coming, for, oh….more than ten years. This is the curve I promised myself all that time ago, when it made sense–sanity-wise–for me to stop working as a tech writer and do the staying-home thing with my son. Yes, I kept busy, obviously. I wrote my fiction, and I did some freelancing, and–you know, wrote The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide. I always knew, though, that unless my writing really took off (and I mean really, as in something like being the next J.K. Rowling), I’d be going back to work.
Last Monday was the first day at my shiny, brand-spanking new job.
I’ve spent the last year doing volunteer development work for a local museum made up or an Art museum and a History museum. This summer, we all agreed that it was the right idea for me to transition out of volunteer and into employee, with–of course–more hours.
It’s time. I hadn’t realized until Monday how ready I am for this. I love my fiction, oh, yes, I do, and it’s not going anywhere. But I’d forgotten the energy of actually being busy from a deadline. From multiple deadlines. I’d forgotten that feeling of accomplishment as one task after another gets done and checked off the list. I’d really forgotten the feel of working with more than one person, face-to-face, rather than over email. I’ve been getting a taste of it for the past year, but it really hit full-force this week. In a good way.
Years ago, I was a docent at Ashlawn, James Monroe’s historic home in Charlottesville. At that time, I thought I’d come back to California and get a job in another historic building, but that didn’t happen. Closed-captioning and technical writing came along instead. The thought, though, has always been at the back of my mind. And now? I’m spending my work hours either in an old, adobe fire station or a mill annex, the first building in the town. Life comes in a circle, sometimes. And did I mention both buildings are less than 10 minutes from my house, giving me about the best commute I could ask for in the Bay Area.
Some things are still a bit surreal. How long eight hours really is, and how short a time it can be when you’re truly busy. How much older my back has become in the intervening years since my last “job.” As far as I can tell, I snapped my fingers, no time passed, but my back became suddenly much pickier about chairs. I’ve got yet another email inbox. The to-do list feels just a little bit like The Blob–expanding at an amazing rate. I’m home less and, with it being summer, seeing my son less. It’s a part-time job, which is working well, but still…this last week, it was him staying home and me going out. Yeah, weird.
And then, to be honest, yes: there is a bit of anxiety and panic about my own writing. It’d be easy to look at the last years and then look at myself and say, “Well, you didn’t really do much with that window of time, did you?” It’d be easy to look at the future and ask, “Exactly when/how do you expect to get your fiction done and published now, if you couldn’t before?” The Evil Editor has a twin: The Evil Life Planner. Well, my goal is to pay them both equal amounts of inattention. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that panic is pointless. Wait…picture it on an embroidery sampler: Panic is Pointless. I will write. And I will revise. And, somehow, I’ll fit it in with all the other things I need and want to get done. There’s been a bit of talk around blogs and Facebook lately about how the phrase A Writing Life has two, equally important, elements: writing and life.
And, frankly my dears, I plan to have them both.