May 2nd, 2011

To Make My Own Days

I haven’t posted in a week for the opposite of my usual reason for delayed postings. Instead of too busy, I’ve been overwhelmed with free time, and utterly unable to organize myself to get much done. This is, at least, a new problem.

What it is is: I’ve taken a leave of absence from my job so I can write. I am extremely grateful for the time, both for the support and flexibility of my bosses, and to the generosity and faith of the Canada Council. Believe me, I am not complaining about anything, just a little afraid. Generosity, support, and faith–it’s a lot to live up to.

I don’t know if I made up this expression on my own, but whenever people are self-employed, I always say they “make their own days”–decide on the schedule, and then decide whether to follow it. And I’m slightly in awe of people who can do that. Even during my brief embrace of academia, which is supposed to be largely self-structured and freeing, I marched myself to campus every day and remained for hours, working in the library and common rooms so I could pretend someone else was making the rules.

Allegedly creative people aren’t supposed to admit this but: I love it when other people make the rules. I’m not great at making my own. Also in graduate school, I never had less than 2 jobs, often 3. Part of that was my very natural fear of starving to death, but the other thing was I like having to be certain places at certain times. Then, whenever there is a time when I don’t have to be anywhere, I know that time is for writing. When I *never* have to be anywhere, I’m never sure what time is for writing and what time is for putting up hooks and what part is for running errands and… Which pretty much explains my morning, in a nutshell.

There is also a part of me that believes that grown-up, responsible people get up early, work from 9 to 5, eat dinner, and then squash the rest of their lives into the time that comes after that and before sleep. Although, come to think of it, that never once happened in the house I grew up in.

I possibly picked up this theory during a rather devastating bout of unemployment after university, wherein I applied for 146 jobs before getting one. I think at that point I pretty much decided that if I could just find some people who would let me sit in their office all day and do something useful for them in exchange for enough money to live, I would never be unhappy again. And it worked out well enough; I’ve been basically very lucky in my employers, and I know I’m actually quite well suited to the 9 to 5 lifestyle; better than a lot of people I know, anyway.

But the thing about a good job, one you care about and want to do well, is that it does crowd out other things. It might refuse to stay in the 9 to 5 slot, and even if the actually work ends at 5, the more you care, the more you might have trouble turning your brain to other matters. And the thing about writing on a very flexible schedule is that you can always do it later. Later later later, there’s an infinite amount of it.

So to dedicate myself to writing *now*–that’s new to me. And in the 2.5 days since I’ve started, I have written a good chunk of pages, but I’ve also passed a lot of time fretting, working out, eating, staring out the window, looking at Facebook, and trying to reconfigure my internet connection. And wondering when the mail will come. And phoning my parents.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m scared of wasting this wonderful opportunity, but I’m going to try my best. I’m not going to be too hard on myself if I can’t write all day every day–I’m already pretty sure that I can’t. But I’m trying to do all I can, without going insane, and if anyone who makes his or her own days has any tips on keeping to it, I would surely like to hear them.

One Response to “To Make My Own Days”

  • AMT says:

    as you might be aware, this post which you may think is about you is, in fact, actually about (1) me (2) my mental health (3) my life (4) me on the internet writing this instead of doing my research. sigh.

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