A post from winter 2012 that stands the test of time …
I wore myself out clearing snow all weekend. Between stints with the shovel, I turned my brain to mush completing Edit #547 of my novel, Mark of the Loon (and almost cried, because surely there will be 453 more). This morning, full-time pay-the-mortgage job responsibilities loomed, my freelance clients’ deadlines hadn’t been fulfilled, blog posts needed to be written, and the contractor was whining for answers about the wall we’re tearing down next week. Forget the housework, dishes, and the broken vacuum. My muscles screamed “uncle!” like a wimpy girl and I just wanted to climb back into bed with two aspirin and a hot pad.
The truth is I’m deep into overwhelm most days. I understand when my friends discuss the juggling act of full-time life and part-time writer. We tear back and forth between writing, marketing, maintaining social media platforms, figuring out where the train wreck should head next, and working toward long-term goals that must play out within the overlay of our life’s existing format. Add family to that, plus the general requirements of food (and fetching it, and heating it up, lol) and you have a plot to which nearly all of us can relate.
I feel sorry for myself once in a while, but have advanced beyond self-pity to pure avoidance. I now compartmentalize to-do lists into things that MUST be done today or this week, vs. what can be tackled down the road. I seldom consider the entire, huge, demanding scope of everything that needs to be accomplished. I know where I want and need to go, and focus on the short steps that lead in the right direction. I’m a one foot in front of the other kindofa gal.
Truth is, I’ve cut out the vaguely unnecessary tasks, like housecleaning, regular haircuts, and shopping for clothes that fit my body (and the season), preferring to address these issues only when I feel that one more fingerprint in the layer of dust on the glass tabletop will drive me over the edge. We won’t even discuss the elastic-topped pants.
Humor keeps me sane. I hang with funny people as much as possible. It works for me. On the inevitable days when even laughter doesn’t cut the tension, I ask myself what particular undone task is bothering me the most and take direct action. Is it the sky-high pile of unwashed clothes? Attack the laundry room. Is it the horrible dirty floors? Don’t look down, or grab the dust mop and get busy.
At least as writers, we have outlets when our plate is too full. We can journal, blog out our stress, or, even better, we can hand it off to our characters. How could you write stress if you’ve never felt it? And the flip side: How could we appreciate the peaceful moments if we never approached the edge? These are my thoughts. And no, that is not a glass of vodka in my hand.
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