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Posts Tagged ‘oxymoron’

Most of us, at some point in our lives, have dreamed of working for ourselves. We sit in our office cubicle, or other equally dismal assigned work space, and wonder what it would be like to not have to answer to that asshole of a boss anymore, or sit next to that whining hypochondriac, or deal with the petty power plays of the supply clerk over the next set of copy paper requests. We imagine how nice it would be to set our own schedule as we tool away at our dream job training unicorns to tap dance. Or maybe something equally a fantasy, like being a writer.
I certainly entertained those thoughts. And when the day came that my husband agreed I could give up the (fruitless two year, hundreds of resumes sent) job hunt and stay at home to give my writing a full-time chance, I was giddy with joy. FINALLY, I could live the life I wanted. All those stories that had been dancing around my head, all those characters demanding to be released, could actually see the light of day. No more alarms, no more power suits, no more office bullshit, and no more disorganized bosses. I stopped being a Certified Administrative Professional, and became a WRITER.
Yeah, you can stop laughing now…

 

lol-cat

I love the smell of folly first thing in the morning…

 

My grand plan was to get up every day when I felt like it, write for a few hours, have lunch, piddle around the housework, fix dinner for the hubby, and finish off the day with a few more hours of writing. I went and bought myself some spiffy writing software (Scrivener is awesome!)*, a cool electronic pad that captures hand-writing (Wacom is awesome!)*, and smooth heavy-bond paper for my fountain pens (Levenger is awesome!)*. I fussed over how my desk should be laid out, whether I should go for time or word count, listen to music or not, have the TV on or not, and about a bazillion other silly things that really didn’t matter but did because I’m a little obsessive/compulsive that way.

In the beginning, I actually did get some stuff accomplished. I (slowly) finished a novel and some short stories, made pretty regular entries here at this old dump of a blog, and did at least two articles a week for an on-line “news” site called Examiner.com, now defunct. I did that gig mainly to get myself back into writing shape, knowing I wouldn’t make a living off it, and left well before their fall. I have made queries and submissions for both the novel and stories, essentially to a large field of crickets, it seems, given the non-responses I’ve received. And I started a second novel. So, in the grand scheme of things, maybe it doesn’t seem all that bad.

Appearances are definitely deceiving.

That early enthusiasm soon fell victim to my own lack of urgency. When I don’t HAVE to get up at a certain time, I don’t. In fact, I’m very cat-like in that regard. I’ll take a nap just about anytime. And when I say nap, I mean at least four hours of unconsciousness cuddled with the actual cats in a cool, dark room. And being naturally a night person, night was when I was awake. I’d see my husband off to work in the morning and promptly head off to the vault for my day’s snooze.

And not being responsible to anyone else’s agenda, when I was awake I wasn’t nearly as productive as I could have been. Hey, look! There’s a game I haven’t played in a long time. Maybe I should make something out of this fabric I’ve had for the last twenty years. Wow, I sure do have a lot of books I need to read – better get started. It’s amazing how fast time disappears when you’re not accountable.

Then came a couple scary events involving hospitals, bill collectors, and mortgage companies. The depression seemed to envelope me whole and what little productivity I’d managed rapidly fell off into nothing. Soon it was mostly sleeping and computer games, because nothing really matters, least of all me. Hiding is what I seem to do best. It’s so easy to put things off when there are no hard deadlines, no people to be responsible to, and no requirements beyond feeding the cats and the husband. And that little dark cave in my mind that began as a refuge, slowly transformed into a prison…

 

Wearing all black

But only until they come up with something darker…

 

I follow several other writers – a couple best-selling/award winners, and a few crawling up the ranks – all of whom are further along their journeys than I. Somewhere along the line, I began dissecting their schedules (if they didn’t outright tell their readers). They all blog more frequently than I, and post on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram numerous times a week. They usually write, or are at least engaged in some aspect surrounding writing, like editing or marketing, everyday. The up-and-comers send out dozens of queries and/or submissions a month, while the established pen mavens have to figure out how to balance all those offers with their already tight schedules. They talk about having to pay the mortgage, dealing with children interrupting their writing time, and imposter syndrome. They are going through all the same issues I am, but they have managed to keep the keystrokes active. They press through even on those days when it seems that writing is more a chore and less the passion they thought it would be.

They do it because they HAVE to, not just because they want to. They are beholding to their families, their editors, their readers, and any number of others involved in the chain of production from inception to publication. Don’t get me wrong: they still love what they do. But like with any career, once it starts rolling, there are other people to think of, and you’d best not let them down.

And that’s what I finally realized I’ve done. This writing thing isn’t just about me. My husband is carrying the household expenses on his shoulders while I piss away my day killing zombies. My family and friends support me and offer encouragement, despite me sleeping curled up with the cats all afternoon. There are even people who aren’t any of the above that read this blog regularly – or at least as regularly as my erratic entries allow – and still follow me regardless.

And that’s why self-motivation is an oxymoron. It doesn’t exist for me. I don’t give a crap for myself, so it doesn’t matter if things get done or not. You can’t motivate someone who doesn’t care. But I’m not operating in a bubble. I know that now. And I just can’t stand to let others down.

So things are going to change. Even if it means using that damn alarm again…

 

 

*   Disclaimer: I have received no monetary sponsorship for these claims. I really do think they’re awesome and use them often!

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Humans are a study in contradictions. We want to take our time doing our own jobs (if we do them at all), but expect everyone else to snap to our demands instantly. We order the large chocolate shake and then bitch about our weight. We don’t vote, but then complain about the results. We want to have it both ways: one standard for ourselves, and a totally different standard for everyone else.

It’s evident in politics all the time. Taxes and gun control are for the masses, but not for the elite. We’ll cut the pay or hours of a minimum wage worker to balance the budget, but don’t expect one red cent of our bazillion dollar a year salary. We’ll cut education so we can build more bombs. We’ll kill all the abortion doctors in the name of a loving god. The ass-backwardness of the way we do things just makes my head spin sometimes. Usually counter-clockwise.

Watching the real world can be very disheartening. That’s why I avoid it whenever possible. The 21st century beyond my front door isn’t the one I imagined when I was a kid. We were supposed to be more enlightened by now, with better science and less war, while discrimination and poverty would be just history terms learned in school because neither existed anymore. I look out the window and it seems we are stupider than ever.

But even in my escapes from the modern era, I am my own oxymoron. At night I’m a science fiction writer. I read up on nanotechnology, microbiology, quantum physics, all so I can travel decades, centuries or even millennia into the future and tell the tales passed to me by the characters there. I love technology. The advances that have been made just in my lifetime are almost mind-boggling. As a child I watched mankind take its first steps into space, and now a handful of us live there nearly year-round. Those grainy, jarring videos of the moonwalks have been replaced with crystal clear digitals of the Martian surface. Star Trek, my most revered childhood love, foretold handheld communicators, computer tablets, FTL drives, and medical diagnostic tables. And I still want to be a starship captain.

On the weekends, though, I travel back in time over a thousand years and take on the guise of a Continental Saxon from the shores of the Baltic Sea circa 925AD. I study weaving, needlework, sword work and archery and wish I could afford a great black charger upon which I could gallop through the woods. Time is much slower, and scissors represent the height of technological advancement. I spend weeks or even months working on a single project, silk stitched carefully onto linen, or wool woven into a brightly patterned belt. Some might think that life was much harder in those days, but our ancestors didn’t know any different. It was simply their life. They worked hard, they played hard, and they were ingenious inventors and unparalleled artisans. Everything they did was done with the fullest of efforts. Something that is lost to us these days.

I’m happiest when I’m not in the present century. Give me a starship or give me a knight in shining armor, but don’t bother offering up cranky third world service reps, land-bound cars, or airport security checks. Why should I deal with that crap when I can stand on an alien shore under twin moons and listen to the winds chime across the sea, or sit quietly by the fire on a cold winter’s night and enjoy the sensuality of soft silk as I stitch a new garment? The dichotomy of my alternate lives gives me both high tech and low demand. Both sides of my personae are satisfied, and the real world can just go stuff it.

All of us are oxymorons in our own way. We are all bundles of contradictions, and often lose the oxy- prefix and are just plain morons because of that. Don’t let that be you. Pay attention to yourself and your interactions with others. Do you expect perfection from them, but let yourself slide? Is it okay for you to overeat, while feeding your ten-year-old yogurt so she doesn’t get fat? Do you get mad when someone is late meeting you, yet you think nothing of being “fashionably late” for dinner with friends? Is everyone driving faster than you crazy and everyone driving slower than you an idiot? It’s everywhere, and you perpetrate it. The only way we can grow into that bright future envisioned by some dorky TV producer 50 years ago is to let go of our double standards, to leave our flawed rules behind and teach ourselves to actually live to the standards we insist others do. It’s our responsibility, each of us and all of us, to make the world less oxymoronic.

And while you’re handling that, I’ll be doing needlework on the bridge of a starship…

 

 

© 2013   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

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