I’M TEMPTED TO GO BACK to the “lazy busy” theme because I’ve fallen deep into that trap myself. People have all kinds of excuses why they get so busy, and I’m certainly no exception. I justify my busyness by saying I am working hard now for the payoff I’ll get later. I think that’s valid. But when I get so busy that I can’t take any time out to enjoy the present, I know something is off kilter.
It started toward the end of last month, when I got caught up in the temporary euphoria of seeing multiple opportunities to pursue some goals I knew were important to me, two big ones being NaNoWriMo and a big chunk of freelance work. The latter is a priority, I tell myself, because I am laying the groundwork for semi-retirement by building up my freelance writing and editing business. That work has been steadily increasing over the last several months, and I feel like I should not be turning down these jobs while trying to get that line of work to where it’s more stable.
The NaNoWriMo decision, on the other hand, was just insanity. A few days before the start of November, during which I’m supposed to be writing a short novel of 50,000 words, it was clear I couldn’t do it this year — I had travel coming up, and all this freelance work, and hadn’t cleared my calendar, and hadn’t a clue what to write about. I decided to do it anyway.
I did what I could while away, writing longhand on two cross-country flights and a couple short bus and train rides. It’s not so easy writing thousands of words by hand at a stretch, let me tell you. It goes a lot faster on a computer. Now, halfway through November, friends of mine are celebrating passing the 25,000-word mark, and I’m stuck at half of that. I’ve still not given up. I’ll write as much as I can, but it’s pretty clear I won’t have time to “win” the contest this year. And that’s all right.
As I explained in a recent post, a part of the euphoria I was feeling last month relates to my claiming the “writer” label. I decided to reduce my work hours to free up some time to pursue both my writing and my freelance massage and editing work, and set in motion a plan to do just that. Problem is, I’ve not yet freed up the time. In fact, with all this freelance work I’ve taken on, I’ve temporarily taken a step in the opposite direction. I’m busier.
If you’re like me, you hate making goals for yourself and not following through on them. You feel guilty. You always have it hanging over your head that you’re not doing enough. You’re stressed out by not having time to stop and enjoy life. You see less of your friends and do less of the things you know are important to your mental and physical balance — in my case, yoga, reading, swimming, sex, and ironing shirts have all suffered.
But then I take a step back and things fall into perspective. Of course I’m not a bad person if I can’t fit it all in. The NaNoWriMo police won’t come to my door on December 1 and drag me off to jail. People can go more than a week without a blog post. My friends will understand if I can’t see them right now. I can pull a sweater over my wrinkled shirt.