Holy guacamole. Thanks for all your responses to the grand epic What Do You Do For A Living post! You all rule the school. What a great read, eh? So many inspiring, thoughtful and funny posts. And people have taken such wild and wacky paths to get to where they are. That’s both reassuring and motivating!
So who’s out there? You’re a diverse bunch. To name a few – we have lawyers, teachers, accountants, stay-at-home-mums, administrators, students, nannies, librarians, bank tellers, PR gurus, academics, social workers, journalists, and even a former Karaoke Sound Engineer.
Why was I being so bloody nosy? I was curious about your lives and work and how you handle things. Thanks a bazillion, folks. Your answers gave some much-needed perspective!
Just so my Anonymous Colleague commenter is reassured and no one dobs me into HR – I am perfectly happy with my current job 🙂 I’ve just been thinking about what I want in the loooong term.
I’ve particularly pondered how I continue to (mis)manage my spare time – my apparent inability to get things done and make any headway with my plans. While the Scottish Companion can work like a madman all week yet manage to work on his album in his spare time, I go to work then just faff around at home.
Yesterday I got a cracker of an email from lovely reader Ellen K, who told me how she’s a web developer by day but in her spare time pursued her true lurve – woodworking! She completed a two year course and now does all sorts of cool stuff like teaching. In other words, she is just bloody doing what she loves! She made it happen. She is balancing the day job with the stuff that really floats her boat. She sent me a photo of her working on a piece and she looked so bloody happy and content, just truly in her element. Brilliant!
So when I posted those questions on Thursday I was just CRACKIN’ UP, baby! My gnawing dissatisfaction bubbled to the surface and I was panicky, weepy, scared. I was positively wallowing in overwhelmedness.
Once I’d calmed the hell down, I realised with a clunk that I’ve been here before! I felt exactly as I had at the start of my lard-busting journey. Hopeless, powerless, desperate, cranky, trapped. Just like we all bloody know dieting is simply calories in calories out, I know writing is a matter of picking up a pen – yet I’ve been feeling paralysed. People gave me sound advice, told me what’s worked for them – yet to me it sounded complicated and impossible. I was looking at university courses, retreats, self-help books… the equivalent of a last ditch crash diet or miracle pill. I was looking everywhere else for the answers except within.
Then I remembered something I wrote in Erin’s book:
"I always thought there would be a great epiphany. I pictured it like the opening credits of Highway To Heaven – big fluffy clouds would part, sunbeams would stream down, and perhaps Michael Landon himself would descend. As cherubs plucked at harps he would say unto me, "Now is the time, Shauna. Now you will finally go forth and lose your lard."
I’m doing the same thing now, but swap "lose your lard" for "do some goddamn writing!".
Just like with the fat, there will be no writing epiphany. There is no Great Moment – just a moment when you start doing something about it. And if you can string together lots of little moments, that’s when you start to get somewhere.
Basically I need to apply the same approach as I did to the Fat Busting. Why was I successful with the Fat Busting this time when I failed so many times before?
- I had a plan.
- I was committed to changing my current habits.
- I made myself accountable.
- I made the task my number one priority.
- I broke a large and overwhelming task into wee chunks. Baby steps!
- I figured out what worked best for me.
- I had a clear belief that I could do it.
- I made a firm commitment to see it through, no matter how long it took.
I currently have: None of this. Yet I’ve been acting surprised that I’ve not produced anything!
Actual current status: No specific plan, no baby steps, no accountability, no prioritizing. No freaking self belief at all. And just like the weight loss parallel, I’ve been vague and secretive about my ambitions in case I fail and/or suck.
Righto. What am I doing about it?
I’m applying the Dietgirl Tactics! I am currently working on a proper plan and goals. I am going to shuffle round my writing priorities so I stop getting sidetracked. The moping stops NOW. No more being secretive in case of failure. Did that work for losing weight? Nooo. Wide-scale accountability starts now! I am going to write a book about these lard busting adventures. I don’t care how long it takes and how much it sucks and if it never gets published, I just want to do it.
I will work on the self belief thing. That took a wee while to get going with the Fat Busting too, but I will get there.
Please don’t think this is a fishing expedition. It’s not an entry coercing people to say, "Woohoo girlfriend, you’re a great writer!". Because this isn’t about writing ability, it’s about the ability to get off your arse and do something with that ability. And that’s the ability that I’ve been sorely lacking!
Apologies for such a dry and humourless entry – this is really just me needing to think out loud. But it’s also me thinking out loud IN PUBLIC like a weirdo raving lunatic at a bus stop, which is what made the difference with the Lard Busting.
. . .
Today I did a few things I’ve neglected for ages. Ginger has been updated at last with two little entries. I also tackled my email backlog. I started with some folk who wrote LAST AUGUST. I am sorry. And I know there were more emails that I lost forever because I didn’t log into my old Hotmail account for too long and all my messages, (ie four years of Dietgirl correspondence) just bloody vanished. I am really really sorry if I never got back to you! I still have a few more emails to go but I am getting there.
Just so you know, please don’t ever hesitate to write, whether it’s to say hello or to ask for advice. I may not get back quickly, but I read every comment and every email gets a Reply To label put on it and I do listen and respond as soon as practicable. Sometimes it takes me awhile to figure out a thoughtful answer. But don’t ever think no one’s listening or no one understands or that your comments are unwelcome. I have lost some weight but I still struggle with the same issues all the time and can feel just as alone and frustrated at times.
Croikey, I’ve been writing all bloody night. If you slogged your way through this whole indulgent tosh, you have burned approximately 65.8 calories, woohoo!