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The First Step to Leaving the Funk

September 23, 2011

I am generally an optimistic person, but that’s hard to be when you’ve run out of goals. I’ve started this blog at a time where I still feel I am in the “Aspiring” phase of being a writer. I’m afraid to start a project that will yield a complete work. I’ve gotten the idea ingrained in my skull that I need a “real job” that will bring in an actual income so I can afford to work on what seems really fun to me.  (It seems I am in a “Turmoil” stage at the moment. Perhaps I needed the turmoil to ignite change towards triumph.)

It’s hard to get a “real job” in this economy “yadda yadda,” we’ve been reciting this chant for some time now. I think I’m so damn afraid of choosing a career path that will make me miserable that I cling to the rut I’ve spun myself. “I know how to do this kind of miserable, I’ve survived on this kind of miserable, so I’ll stick with this one.” The problem is, you can only physically and mentally take so much of that rut until you loathe yourself for making excuses and dragging your feet. Then you start abusing yourself, giving yourself that disappointed head-shake because you’re fully aware of what you’re doing. You are self-consciously keeping your feet planted and knowing that makes you hate yourself that much more.

My most recent excuse has been, “I’m being really picky about what jobs I want to apply for.” And all the well-intentioned enablers say, “That’s not a bad thing! You deserve to be picky at this point.” There is some truth to my excuse, I am being really picky. In all honesty, I am indecisive about what kind of job I want to tie myself to. I want to be proud of what I do–I don’t have to be proud every day, every job has its boring days, but I am craving an overall sense of personal accomplishment from a job.

Yesterday, I called to follow up on an application I submitted to a used bookstore in town. I have a slight phone-phobia, I don’t like talking to strangers on the phone. But I felt confident about this. I want this job. I keep saying how I want out of retail, but this feels different to me. I love discovering new authors. I’m pretty good at judging what people would like reading. This would be the next best thing to being a librarian. And can you imagine how great it would be working around books all day? Ok, definitely not for everyone, but there are worlds within worlds inside of those shelves!

And that’s where I get truly excited. A series of shelves with fiction to me is a forest of discoveries. Some of them are let-downs, some are insightful, but all have the potential to be wonderful. I think I really need to be around literature to be happy.

As I look back on my life, there were several instances that were probably indicators that I should write. There was that 3rd grade softball story that I refused to turn in until I got the ending just-right; there were the gobs of poetry I put on a public online diary site; the attempt at an elf-story I wrote in middle school (I discovered just how much writing exposition could slow down the creative process); and finally my rediscovery of this love of playing with words in college.

I need to choose one of the stories from my file box, dust it off, and start serious revisions. I need to give myself a new goal to achieve and have the next one prepped on down the line.

So far, I’ve been browsing online looking for career ideas, jumping-off points, and job boards. Mainly what has helped to keep my writing-side alive has been reading the compassionate ass-kicker, Chuck Wendig (I seriously devoured this book and it has given me so much more respect for the word-smithing I’d love to do). Now I just need to stop stalling and get my work squirming. Step 1: Stop avoiding the office where the stories are hiding.

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