Boy, did I start out this year with a fizzle!
At the very beginning I was so motivated, so determined not waste any time. I jumped into everything. I started volunteering with this organization that would aid me in my software programming goal. And very, very quickly I realized I was barely keeping up with my life and, despite having finished my dissertation, I still had no time to spend with my family.
Then a nerve-wracking day that I had been anxiously anticipating for awhile finally came and went – it was bittersweet, but not largely disappointing. (Although, it is not officially resolved just yet, which is driving me crazy!) Then, I lost my dear companion – our 9.5 year-old cat. That happened less than a week ago and this is the first day (so far) that I haven’t cried over his loss.
I think I was scared about being finished. I spent 10.5 years working on my doctorate. And the past year was filled to the brim with actual quantifiable work. I was scared of falling back into old patterns where I would wake up late, then surf the Web for an hour or two, have some lunch, watch some Hulu, then realize I should get something done before my husband came home, but ultimately waste my entire day anyway. I am getting older. I have more goals I want to accomplish and time seems to slip away faster the older I get. It scares me.
Apparently the answer is not to stuff my schedule full of activities, because in the end I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to (or needed to) do. I need to find a job. This is paramount (and something I haven’t honestly started working on yet and here it is the second week of February already). Beyond that I need to prioritize my goals. Yes, I would like to learn how to computer program, and how to use Photoshop efficiently, and refocus my academic research, but what is it that I feel is most important?
A little less than a year ago I decided I wanted to finally write my novel. I have a very short list of things I absolutely want to accomplish with my life. I get to cross out “get Ph.D.” What about “become an author”? It is something I have always wanted to do, pretty much since I was old enough to write. I put that aside for a more academic pursuit, which I do not regret. However, it is time to move forward with this next goal. And part of me feels that hour-glass heavy on my back, because I know that once I find a full-time job I will not have nearly as much free time. I need a full-time job, and I feel having one will do me loads of good in a variety of ways, but I want to try and take advantage of this time now when I get to sit at home all day and not get dressed because I have nowhere I have to be.
So, the past couple of days I have been putting a lot of thought into this goal. The reason I started this blog in the first place. I have even managed to write about 1000 words of fiction in these two days – unrelated scenes, but still. Where last year when this desire hit me I felt motivated and knew exactly where to start, this year I feel at a bit of a loss. I feel like every one of those 1000 words sucked and were wholly uninteresting. I feel like my new idea for a novel sucks and will never be interesting or intricate enough to work out. I try telling myself it doesn’t matter. I try to remind myself that I’d rather have a sucky 50,000-word novel that would make someone want to scratch their eyes out than no novel at all. I know my first novel will not sell. I know this and should fine with it, but at the moment my inner critic is distracting me with all her blathering about how I’ll never be good enough, how I missed my window, how I cannot write creatively anymore, how I won’t ever be able to dredge up enough motivation to actually finish a complete novel…
Can I manage to take a breath and relax? Writing a novel takes time, just like writing a dissertation. Will I be able to shed this frantic need to see results immediately for fear the rest of my time on this earth will slip away before I can accomplish my goals?