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If you’ve read my About page, you no doubt are aware that in my everyday life, I am not a writer. Indeed, I lead a far more mundane existence as a project coordinator. A job I didn’t even know existed as a teenager when I was trying to figure out how to succeed at this whole Life Thing. Back in the day, I thought I’d be an English Professor. Then I remembered that I hate literature, and even more, the totally subjective practice of analyzing it. (No offense to any Lit-speculators out there. Really. My favorite uncle is one of you weirdos).
So it was quite the surprise to have ended up, after a number of other seemingly disconnected attempts and side-steps, in my current job. A job that is, frankly, a better gig than I’d hoped for when I was just a wee undergrad, trying to decide on a major that I was certain would define my entire life. I’m sure I was not alone at that age, in my mixed feelings of excitement and trepidation. On the one hand, I was at the start of something huge and important and so very, very adult. On the other hand, 40 hours a week–more when you counted in lunch hours, overtime, and commutes–with no summer vacation to recharge . . . how did people do that? For 40+ years!
And of course, I was the kid who, when asked what I would do if money was not a concern, always gave the same answer: Author. So right from the get go, I knew I couldn’t do any of that follow-your-dream nonsense. Yes, nonsense. Because money was a concern. Is always a concern. And much as it is fun to believe a person can find success and live a comfortable life off their dreams if only they want it badly enough, that is just not true. Which isn’t to say it is always untrue. It depends on your dream. Those who fantasize about being workaholic mechanical engineers have a bit of an advantage over us with the artsy aspirations.
Unfortunately, math and science were never my thing. Which was okay. I’ve always been practical. Even at 18. (Though obviously not practical enough to suck it up and go into engineering). But practical enough to consider all possible consequences of my career choice, find something that didn’t inspire a trip to the hardware store for rope and a wobbly step stool, and commit to a non-dream alternative. I got my masters and started immediately in my chosen, practical profession.
Then I promptly got bored after three years. Not just of my job, but of the whole field. Libraries, if you want to know. I wasn’t even a typical librarian. I was a unique type in an academic setting that was practically tailor made for me. And still, I got bored. So I found a different job, in a different field, in a totally different work environment. Corporate. Fast-paced. Tons of perks.
Still boring. So, so boring.
Right from the start, too. And worse, it entailed several hours a day of “pretend work.” You know, the type of work that trains you to be very good at hastily clicking between your internet browser and email, because the boss loves sneaking up on you to catch you in the act of being unproductive. Even if you’ve already finished every task he assigned to you within the first thirty minutes of planting your butt in your cubical. Because that’s a good management style. Totally guarantees you get the best out of your employees. Uh huh.
Needless to say, I did not stay there very long.
From there, I landed in my current job. And right away it was like I had finally found what I was meant to do.
It isn’t writing. Truth be told, I’d kind of given up writing in the intervening years. I’m not even sure why. Every so often, I’d open up a Word doc and type up a little scene that went nowhere, save it, then forget about it. Mostly, though, I just told myself it’d been a phase I’d grown out of. Project Coordinating has nothing to do with writing, but it doesn’t bore me. Even more importantly, I love my boss, earn a respectable paycheck, and–this is key–can work from home. Not only do I not need to keep my clicking finger in top condition, I can pull up porn on my personal computer right next to my work computer and have it playing in the background all day, should I desire.
I don’t desire, but I do appreciate the freedom of having the option.
This is it, I told myself when I started. This is what I’m going to do for the rest of my working days until retirement.
It is still work. Which is to say, in a post-scarcity Star Trek-esque society, I’d definitely not be doing it. But it was as good as it got. It was so much better than I’d hoped for as that excited, nervous teenager looking at a course catalog.
Notice the tense change?
One of my responsibilities in my job is editing and proof-reading reports. It’s more of a by-product, actually, rather than a real responsibility. One that was hoisted into my lap because I happened to be better at it than anyone else on my team. I have to read reports and make sure they convey a cohesive message with sufficient evidence to back up a claim, while fixing the usual grammatical errors. I maybe spend 5% of my work hours doing it. For most people, it would be tedious, I’m sure.
For me, it was a slap in the face that I didn’t see coming. You see, I was good at editing and proofing because I’d done it for years before with my own stories. The ones I’d given up as a child’s hobby upon joining the “adult” world. In the oddest of twists, this tertiary responsibility in my ideal job reminded me that I had once loved writing. And more, it made it impossible to resist taking it up again. But this time, as an adult. With life experience and professional knowledge and a real desire to not just write, but write well.
Which led to last week. When I did the thing. A thing I never actually thought I’d do. Even when I told myself I would if the circumstances were right. Even when I wanted to do it sooo much because I knew it would make me sooo happy. I’m practical, remember? And this thing is the complete opposite of practicality.
Last week, I decided to quit my job. More than just decided. I told my boss three months. Enough time to finish my current projects and help her start training a replacement. I would have loved to just do the typical two-weeks thing, but the nature of my role would make that kind of a dick move. I’m sorta indispensable. *modest shoulder brush*
I still love my boss. I earn an even more respectable paycheck than I did when I started. I still work from home with the ever-present option of a bow-chicka-wow-wow soundtrack. By all logic, it should still be the perfect job for me. But it’s not my dream. And ever since that small reminder got me writing again, I haven’t been able to brush it aside into the vault of impracticality. Partly because, at this point in my life, it’s actually not total nonsense anymore. Adulthood does, in fact, have perks. One of which being a supportive spouse who made the most practical of career choices by going into the IT industry.
So. Three months. I have no idea if I’ll actually be any measure of successful. It is entirely possible that I’ll only end up selling two books (one to myself, and one to Bunny). But if I’m going to succeed, this gives me my best shot. Those 40+ hours a week will be all mine, giving me the time to practice and learn without distractions or competing obligations.
Not to mention, time to marathon all twelve seasons of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix, spend a solid month just reading in pajamas, and become fully nocturnal should the mood strike me. It’s possible I may not be totally prepared for this amount of freedom . . .