I’ve hit a few road blocks, friends. Work in all its forms was moving forward at a steady pace; nothing too surprising or fast, just a measured rhythm which would yield paychecks and, eventually, a finished book.
Then I lost my job. Instead of pouring all my new time and energy into my book, I became discouraged. While I had a job, I wasn’t writing a lot on any given day, but I was writing a page a day, on average. Like I said, things were going at a steady pace. Once I lost my job, I only managed to write about a page and a half before I just … paused.
I have a bad habit of taking things for granted, and seeing comfort as a given. This is not a great way to look at the world; a lot of my recent lifestyle choices and spending habits were a result of consistent paychecks, and even though my pay was absolute shit, I could string together enough cash to cover my bills and then some.
Alas, not anymore. Lucky for me, August was a coveted “five-paycheck month,” and I was able to save enough money to cover my bills for September. So this month, I’m not completely fucked, but things are dicey. I got used to throwing ludicrous amounts of money at indulgent snack purchases, and a sizable supply of Zevia to drown my soda habit. I have a short list of promising video games I’d like to purchase (yeah, my plan to finish all my unfinished games crumbled, but I have done a decent job of moving through my backlog).
Long story short, I’ve had to tighten my grip on my remaining cash, and while I hold onto my dwindling fistful of dollars, I search for new jobs. This process is difficult for me. I’m something of an anti-capitalist consumer nerd, a cliched contradiction of the highest order. I fervently hate the corporate hellhole through which I usually slog, yet I need money to afford my apartment and my food and my medicine and all the fun stuff I use to distract myself from the fact that the system is stacked against the worker drones like me. In three words, this shit’s fucked.
I felt myself sliding back into old habits like they’re a comfortable set of well-worn pajamas. When I eked out a page a day after work, I would only have a few hours a day to sit back and play video games. Sometimes I would watch tv with my brother, and other times I would ignore those pastimes in favor of writing a little more than usual. When the job slipped away, I replaced it with video games. I’d look for jobs, sure, but that made me anxious – the soul-crushing thought of walking into a corporate simulacrum and pasting a smile on my face just to convince people I can make them a profit while they pay me proverbial pennies haunted my every click on the internet job board, and then I’d think “If I don’t get a decent job by X, I won’t be able to pay for Y.” I can only handle so much anxiety and overthinking before I become numb and I close my computer out of fatigue.
So video games became my balm, and oh boy, they almost soothed me into a state of undeath. I don’t like to describe joblessness like that, but when I’m stuck in the middle of August’s barely-paid bills and September’s looming bills with no job to keep money in my bank account, I feel stuck, trapped, mortified, like there’s no air and I … I don’t need the money right now, but it’s just a matter of time before I’m broke. It’s a weird place to be – with the right habits, one may still have enough food to eat without earning money to buy more food right on schedule, but it’s a state that can only last a little while.
In my frozen state, I’ve played a lot of video games. I played two sessions of Dungeons and Dragons with the same group over the same weekend, and played again the following weekend. I’ve put board games on hiatus because my car can’t exactly take all that strain. And, my worst sin, I’ve stopped writing my book.
This isn’t to say I’m behind schedule and I’m dropping it completely. I’m not a defeatist, not anymore, and I have a few damn good stories to tell with this book. Thanks to my gung-ho attitude at the start of this writing project, I reached 90 pages by the end of August. Taking into consideration my starting around the middle of June, having 90 pages right now keeps me on track, with 1 page for every day since I started. I choose to look at the project this way so I can feel positive about it and move forward with it. I would still like to finish the damn thing by the end of the year, but a more realistic projection is that I finish it in the late winter/early spring, sometime in the first three months of next year.
The phrase that keeps bothering me is “consistent daily action.” In a few recent personality profiles I’ve run for myself, one of the conclusions drawn about my habits is that I work in spontaneous bursts of energy, and I need to channel my output more evenly so it turns from spontaneous to consistent. This is why the “1 page a day” schedule is so important to me. I would like to get back on that, as soon as I can. If I push myself, I might be able to hit 120 pages by the end of the month. That’d be something.
However, the more important thing is that I turn my ideas into consistent writing sessions. Don’t take stock of the total number of pages, rather, be sure to write for at least an hour every day. I know I can do this.
I still need a job, to make ends meet while I continue writing my dreams into reality. If I must suffer another corporate daymare of a job, I’d like to pursue my shining dream of penning a book that gets published. On the job front, I did push through an interview today, and it went well. I’ve been offered a job, but the background check has to go through before I start work, and the pay is up in the air, due to – you guessed it – corporate shenanigans. The company has to look at my work history and determine my “starting pay” from there. My work history is spotty – I’ll be lucky to make more at this new job than I did at the last corporate shitshow. This is why I’m not calling my job search a done deal – I’ve been offered a job, and I’ll probably take it just to keep my bills paid, but I’m gonna look around until I’m satisfied.
I might not be satisfied with any job. In the too-apt words of Blink-182, “Work sucks – I know.” It’s a sentiment that runs through my brain on a daily basis.
I might pursue a master’s degree at this point. Or maybe I’ll get an MFA. No matter what I do, I’m gonna write.
Thank you for reading this haphazard mix of words, all the long rambling paragraphs intermingled with tiny paragraphs that are really just a sentence. My pacing has really slipped as of late. And ultimately, I think I just end up rambling about the same thing for way too long.
Yet it’s nice to put my wacky thoughts out there. Keep doing what you do, folks.