This week, I had an epiphany. The tension has been building for some time and, really, it should have happened years ago, but I had to come to this place in my life to be able to wrap my head around it fully.
Now that I’ve come to a decision, though, I feel stupid for not having realized this sooner.
I’m a writer (duh).
What, you say? I thought you figured that one out already. Yes. I had. But it’s one thing to know something and another to become it, to take action to make your dreams reality.
Let me ‘splain.
C’mon, people, by now you should realize that everything’s a story with me 😉
Back when I was still a wounded creative (oh, poor me), even though I’d been published as a poet, and completed my MA in English Literature and Creative Writing, I couldn’t establish a regular writing practice. I knew that I wanted to be a writer, but I couldn’t find my way there.
I’d been working contract jobs interspersed with employment insurance claims and then I started working for my current employer. At last, I had a job that could pay the bills. The hand-to-mouth existence ceased.
I finally started to sort out my damage, got into therapy, went on antidepressants. I did a few other things to help myself health-wise, and then, thanks to a writing workshop arranged by the Sudbury Writers’ Guild, I found my way to the page.
I drafted my first novel, went to more workshops and conferences, read my way though one writing craft book after another, and joined professional associations.
At work, I was successful in an assessment process, and, after a relatively short period of time, another.
I started this blog and began to work on creating a “platform.”
By this time, I was in my late 30’s and I was under the impression that I could do everything. I could be awesome in my day job, my personal life, and in my creative life.
The truth? You can only run on all cylinders all the time for so long before you need a tune up.
I thought that taking the occasional self-funded leave would be enough, but each time I returned to work, exhaustion crept up on me more and more quickly.
I hit forty and travelling for training started to become less enjoyable. I applied for process after process, getting screened out of most of them, and eventually landed an acting consultant position that drove me a little crazy. I got my training certification.
Then the certification program ceased and I wondered what I had spent all that time and effort on.
Our internal college is undergoing a transformation of its own, by the way, and may be losing more than just the training certification program.
Creatively, I started working on other novels and started to get my short fiction published again.
And now, I’m in another acting consultant position.
I’ve just spent a week in Toronto, training. Introvert me was so drained, I had nothing left for the page.
That was when it hit me.
I’m spending my energy on the wrong thing.
Last year, I wrote about how my creative life was feeding me in a far more meaningful way than my work life. Dan Blank, from whom I learned a lot about platform, made particular note of that statement. He saw it was the light that would eventually become a revelation. As usual, I was a little slow on the uptake.
I’d just returned to my substantive position as an advisor with the training unit and my employer was in the midst of a business transformation process. On the heels of that, they engaged in a massive hiring process that required a lot of training for the newly hired employees.
Retirements at the executive level caused another kind of upheaval and only eight months after getting our manager back from an extended leave, we lost her to a management shuffle. Nearly everyone was moving around; nearly everyone was acting in one capacity or another. There was no stability.
We’re still in chaos. I think that’s supposed to be the new normal, but I don’t deal well with that much upheaval.
I had just decided that I would be happy not getting another acting consultant position, because there were geographical restrictions and I was not willing to move. My friends in the pool were being offered indeterminate positions and I was happy for them.
Then this position came up.
I think the same thing has happened at work that happened back when I was finishing my BA.
At that time, I was moving into a good place creatively. I was starting to get published. I thought I needed the validation of an MA, though.
So, I put myself through hell and though I got the damned degree, it’s still one of my biggest regrets.
Now, I think I need the continuing validation of promotions. I don’t. I so don’t.
What I need is to settle in as advisor for the rest of my career, however long that may be. No more special projects that either get abandoned or taken over by other departments. No more assessment processes that have nothing to do with the jobs they result in. No more acting positions in which I fail to the degree that the lessons learned are no longer within my grasp.
More than that, I don’t want to travel anymore. It simply drains me too much. I’m even considering a parallel move into quality monitoring, which would not involve training or travel, though I would be willing to help out with training in my office, if my new manager would be agreeable.
I’m planning on another self-funded leave this year, but after I’ve paid that off, I’m considering part-time work as well. My work/life/creative balance has been off for so long I can’t see how screwed up things have gotten.
This is not to say that I’m going to coast, or dog it, for the rest of my career. I don’t think that would be possible. It’s just not in me to purposefully do a poor, or inadequate, job. I’m a perfectionist, after all.
I just don’t want a day job that depletes me to the point that I can’t do what it is that I’ve been put on this spinning orb to do.
I still have to work for a few years yet to make sure our remaining debts are paid off, but once we’re in a good place, financially, I intend to make an early retirement of it and get on with the business of the rest of my life.
I’m a writer and the day job is a means to that end. I have to keep my priorities straight. I can’t afford to be putting good energy after bad.
I just have to make it through the remainder of my current acting assignment with my sanity intact first.
Wish me luck?