Tag: day job Page 1 of 3

“There’s no shame in being a starving artist”

From “‘Mad Men’ Creator Matthew Weiner’s Reassuring Life Advice For Struggling Artists”:

It took seven years from the time I wrote Mad Men until it finally got on the screen. I lived every day with that script as if it were going to happen tomorrow. That’s the faith you have to have.

Seven years. Somehow that sounds like both an eternity and no time at all.

I have the kind of faith that he’s talking about. I don’t think about it much, but it’s there. Automatic, like breathing. Only occasionally a struggle, like breathing.

Looking back on my posts here, a clear pattern emerges: I’m almost there. This is going to be the year, I can feel it. I’ve said that time after time after time. Is it folly to believe in something that never happens?

You’re only wrong until you’re right.

The most defeatist thing I hear is, “I’m going to give it a couple of years.” You can’t set a clock for yourself. If you do, you are not a writer. You should want it so badly that you don’t have a choice. You have to commit for the long haul.

When I quit my job, I gave myself a year. I thought, If I’m not agented and/or published by then, I can still look for work without any issue. I’m young, and I’ll barely have been “out of the game” for any time at all.

But a year passed. Then another. Then another. I found ways to justify putting off the job search. Little milestones to hang my hat on, and to fuel another round of “just give me a few more months.”

Maybe I always knew I wasn’t going back. Maybe I don’t want a Plan B.

The greatest regret I have is that, early in my career, I showed myself such cruelty for not having accomplished anything significant. I spent so much time trying to write, but was paralyzed by how behind I felt.

Am I cruel to myself? Sometimes. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing, though, because I’m overly generous to myself too, haha. There has to be a balance, right?

Well, that balance would probably be healthier and more productive if it weren’t so extreme. Both ends of the spectrum lead to their own kinds of paralysis.

Also, how are we defining “significant”? A couple weeks ago, I had a sort of wake-up call. (Not for the first time, nor for the last, I’m sure.) A friend who is now interested in writing kept remarking on my achievements, saying how much he admired me. I brushed off his words — not out of modesty, but out of genuine disbelief and puzzlement. Me? Achievements? What? Where?

But after a while, I tried to let the compliments through. Tried to give them a fair chance instead of swatting them away without consideration. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but maybe I should give myself credit for getting to where I am. Maybe I should appreciate this part of the journey.

And maybe this is the year. Breathe in, breathe out.

Dog days of summer

Okay, it’s not quite summer yet, but since the A/C at work was broken for a few days, it kinda felt like it.

I don’t talk much about my day job, because we all know how that can go, but there have been a lot of changes in my work environment over the past couple months. Accordingly, I’ve been riding a rollercoaster of stress and excitement. So far things have turned out fine, and more importantly, they seem to be getting even better. There’s a lot of management that talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk; lately, our management is walking the walk.

Case in point: We just went dog-friendly. Like, literally today. We’re starting out with 1 dog for 1 day each week, but if it goes well, I think we could have dogs here on a daily basis. (Probably still just 1 at a time.) Since 99% of us have dogs, this fits the personality of the team, and it makes us really happy. To me, that’s good corporate culture.

me and Kiko
Me with my boss’s dog Kiko

Furthermore, my work has always been supportive of my writing, and I know I’m extremely lucky in that. (Note: I think it helps that I was clear from Day 1 — i.e., my interview — that I want to be a novelist.) They let me change both my role and my schedule to give me more writing time, and they are always trying to help me (with insurance, 401k, etc.) as opposed to trying to deny me those benefits because I’m “not completely dedicated” or some baloney like that. In return, I of course work very hard to make sure I’m deserving of these considerations.

Again, good corporate culture. Because a happy, valued employee is a productive, hardworking employee.

So if there’s any advice I have for writers who need to work, it’s to look for a supportive company and a flexible schedule. It’s definitely made a world of difference for me.

Recklessly optimistic

Wow, it feels like forever since I’ve blogged. Actually, it feels like forever since everything. This has been an extremely long week, but it has also been far better than I imagined it would be.

Despite my history with caffeine-induced headaches, I’ve been running on Pepsi for the past couple of days. I also bought myself a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream (and ate it in less than 24 hours…) as a reward for all my hard work. Apparently calories = happiness and relaxation. Who knew?

(Brittney also sent me a wonderful care package full of chocolate and pampering, and I’m looking forward to making full use of it this weekend. Thank you!)

The thing is, despite all this CHAOS (yes it deserves all-caps) I’ve been pretty happy. My hard work not only resulted in a smooth workplace move & transition, it also was vocally appreciated/complimented by my coworkers and boss. That kind of thing goes a long way, you know?

Going into this, I knew I’d be working long hours all week, I just didn’t know that I’d sort of enjoy them.

I enjoyed the physical work. My jobs (receptionist and writer) involve a lot of sitting around and staring at a computer screen. This week, I was barely in a chair for more than a few minutes at a time (even for lunch!). Instead I was packing and taping and lifting and hauling. I was directing and assisting. I was organizing and discarding. Maybe it’s tedious work, but I’ve learned that tedious work can sometimes be rewarding, in its way.

(The one downside: my hands are raw and have paper/cardboard cuts all over.)

I enjoyed working with our service people. The locksmith, the movers, the security alarm guys, the phone system techs. Everyone we ended up hiring was really great. The older ones teased and reassured — like your favorite uncles. The younger ones were fun (and a few were flirty) and being around them made me feel young too. I mean, I know I’m young, but most days I act more like 42 than 24. It just felt good to be my age.

(The service people all did really great work, too. I plan to give them good ratings & reviews on Yelp.)

I enjoyed the camaraderie at my workplace. I think the move was good for us — the new building is a refreshing change of scene, and getting there was a chance to break our routine. Everyone pitched in to help everyone else, which created an atmosphere of teamwork and bonding. With just a dozen people, we were already fairly close, but I really think this move brought us even closer.

And I see even more positive things on the horizon. This move was the first big change at work, but potentially not the last. I’m excited about the possibilities for our company moving forward, about the way our corporate culture could evolve. Nothing is for sure, but this week I finally hopped off the fence and decided to root for a certain outcome. We’ll see if my team wins.

In the meantime, I’m going to do AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE this weekend. Other than a friend’s bridal shower, I plan to sleep, eat, read, and write. The end.

I hope your weekend is as relaxing as mine!

The end of publishing? Think again.

WIP update: Just topped 17,000 words and am getting to the heart of Chapter 5. Strangely, writing feels easier now that the two MCs (main characters) are split up. Not sure what exactly that means yet, but I do think it means something. I guess I’ll address it in the revisions. (That’s my new motto for everything, haha: fix it later!)

To make the most of today, my last Friday of not working (at least for a while), I’m in Houston visiting my parents for the weekend. Trying hard to relax, and to get a lot of writing in. Because next week, the real chaos begins. (Carpets cleaned, locks re-keyed, alarm system upgraded, FURNITURE AND ALL OUR JUNK MOVED IN, unpacking, re-adjusting. Oy.) A workplace move really cures you of wanting to look for houses, by the way. I’ve started to think Andy and I could live in our condo forever.

Anyhoot, I’m off to read and write and relax (and go to the rodeo! yeehaw!) but first, a video. Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have already seen this, but it really is worth seeing again, particularly if you’re into reading or you’re aspiring to be part of the publishing industry.

Leprechauns, yetis, and puppies, oh my!

I’m… surviving. The past few days I’ve had almost no free time until dinner, and by then all I wanted to do was eat and then sleep. (Or at least veg out.) For the record, I’ve STILL met my word quotas every day. Despite really really really wanting to skip them and go to bed instead. The WIP is now at 16,000 words.

The reason for my exhaustion: Our move (work, not home) is now exactly 1 week away. But surprisingly, things seem to be under control. (I think.) A lot of that is because my coworker had her college-aged son and two of his friends come be my slaves helpers. They moved furniture around in our new office space, and packed up the basement of our old building. They were great — both as helpers and guys — but it was a little strange to realize that they probably thought of me as “old” just because I’m in the working world and they’re still students. Being considered old = -_-

Fortunately, the best St. Patrick’s Day story ever = ^_^

No seriously. READ IT.

Also, as promised, here are a few pics of Riley’s new next door buddy, Sunny:

doggy friends 033

Please note that Sunny is a whopping 8 weeks old and already as big as Riley.

doggy friends 031

Also, he has this weird habit of going to lie in the mulch around the a/c units. Don’t ask.

doggy friends 019

Also, he always wants attention. Weird, right? It’s like he’s a puppy or something.

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