I had a serious crash-and-burn depressive episode this past week, like I haven’t had in some years, and in the aftermath I’ve been taking stock, trying to figure out what caused it and, therefore, how to avoid its like in future.
And I realized that this is a large part, maybe the largest part, of the problem: I have been doing the same thing I did for most of my working life: taking on more and more of what I know I’m good at in order to make enough money to do what I really want to do ~ because there’s a paycheck attached to the first one.
Only what ends up happening is, I put all my time and energy into doing my best at the paycheck work and, as a result, have no energy left for what I really want to do. Which is writing fiction and nonfiction.
When I was teaching, it was okay most of the time because I enjoyed teaching (notice the “joy” in the middle of that word). Right up until the last few years of teaching, I loved being in the classroom, I had fun with my students, teaching was energizing, and class prep gave me a maintenance dose of writing. And then there was that steady paycheck, even though it wasn’t as much as you might think. Which is why I took on outside work, course overloads, teaching online, and copy-editing gigs, for instance.
Unfortunately, I’m no longer good (if I ever was) at splitting my focus. For me, these days, working at 3 or 4 major endeavors means that no one of them gets done as well as it could or should be. Which means that, at the end of way too many days, I’m tired AND dissatisfied ~ which leads to anger and depression.
Also, it turns out that I probably won’t live to be 300. (Who knew, am I right?)
That fact matters ~ because I’ve been doing it again. In fact, I’ve paid OUT thousands of dollars to build a structure within which I would do it again! Spend all my time and energy working at things I’m good at but which don’t give me joy ~ in order to make enough money so that, someday, I’ll have enough money to do the thing that does give me joy: write, and publish what I write.
Someday. And in the meantime content myself with what little bits of time I can snatch for my own writing between “paid” work . Just like I did for more than 20 years teaching as contingent faculty. I realized, finally . . .
That has to stop.
Then the universe interceded (like it does) in the form of a blog post by the only internet marketer I follow consistently (because she embodies the best qualities of a professional in everything she does and because she is a real person) ~ Tiffany Lambert.
In the post Tiff again recommended a program called Kindling, and it was a flashbulb moment for me. I went right to Geoff’s sales page, read it word for word (which I never do), and bought my membership this morning.
Like my little friend, Ballsy Boots (pictured above) ~ I’m going to be brave. Because this is going to be my primary focus from here on out: Writing that gives me joy AND a paycheck. Starting now.
See you on the beach.