Family. Writing. Volunteering.
These are all important to me–catch me in a well-rested, perfectly-balanced moment (if you can…) and I’ll list them in this order.
I always forget to put myself on the list; that’s nothing new. If prompted, I’ll shuffle my feet, say, “Oh shucks, go ahead, put ‘Exercise’ on there somewhere near the bottom.”
That’s the ideal; this is reality:
In the past four days, I’ve spent one baking bread with six-year olds; one pulling projects together with eight-year olds; one practicing life and death scenarios in the simulator for my “other” career (anesthesiology); and one hanging out with writers, enjoying good food and actually getting some work done (this is such a fun group, I wasn’t planning on much–my 600 words made me very happy).
25% Career I’m Not Even Practicing Anymore But Can’t Let Go Of
20% Social, 5% Writing
My husband, on the other hand, saw me for about…an hour. Maybe less. In four days. (Family: Zilch).
I got no exercise. (Me: Zilch)
How am I doing? Predictably, I’m grumpy. Drained. Over-volunteered, to say the least. I had to skip horse-back riding with my daughter today, something that counts toward Family and Exercise, because I have a headache after spending yet another day in the classroom, volunteering.
But volunteering is a good thing, right? It’s altruistic, it’s helpful. I know, I know, and I love doing it–I love being able to spend time in my kids’ classes, and usually spending time at their school is so energizing, it’s worth it no matter how tired I get. I get lots of thanks, lots of hugs, and I get to spend time with my kids in the middle of the day. I’m lucky to be able to do it.
So why don’t I feel lucky?
It’s easy, and you can tell by this essay.
I’ve hit the hard patch.
The hard patch in my writing, in my editing. It’s getting real, folks. It’s waking up every day, sitting at the computer, and going to work. It’s not a vacation anymore.
The thrill of going to work in my pajamas has worn off. (My real pajamas, not those funny looking blue things I wore at the hospital.)
I miss colleagues. I miss hanging out in the break room, blowing off steam. I miss GETTING PAID FOR DOING NOTHING, even if it was only those RARE five minutes when I sat down and my pager hadn’t gone off, and I had the illusion that I was earning money for sitting there with my feet up. (In reality, I was being paid to be worried, and to act at a moments’ notice, prepared to bring all my skills to bear no matter what the emergency or when it should strike. Doctors never get paid to do nothing. But sometimes, they are allowed to sit down, and those minutes were very, very nice.)
I miss getting paid 😦
I’m still passionate about my writing, about my books, about my characters. I still want to make their stories shine. I’m sitting down to edit my second novel, and I KNOW how much work it will be this time. Yes, the draft is a bit cleaner than my first novel’s was. Doesn’t matter–it’s still 60,000 words to edit, rearrange, and rewrite. (And I’m lucky, because that’s a short book.)
There’s no way I’m giving up this dream–no matter how hard it gets, I know how lucky I am to be able to work at it. I told myself every day of medical school and residency that it was a privilege to be able to work this hard, and that kept me from complaining about the physical exhaustion–many, many people would have given up a lot to be that exhausted, just for the chance to be a doctor. I had that chance, and I made the best of it while I could.
I have a chance to be a writer.
No more procrastinating.
Time to get to work, whether anyone is paying me or not.