Over dinner with my good friend David this week, we talked about exhaustion. Mine, specifically, but also his in regards to his law practice. There is a lot of “powering through” going on in both of our lives.
For me, it’s in the fact that many aspects of my life are on hold as I try to write books while holding down a full-time day!job. Writing takes energy more than it does time, and while I might spend one hour out of four actually committing words to a story, the other three are spent either in preparation/planning or recovery. So, I’m not socializing much, and I’m not entertaining any old or new hobbies, and I’m sure as hell not trying to date (or even hook up casually). What I’m doing is getting in the bare minimum of exercise and meditation before spending 10 hours of the day on my official job (including travel/prep time, which most people don’t include when they talk about having a job, but everyone should) and then going home and trying to write between 1000-2000 words a day. It’s…well, as I said, it’s exhausting.
David’s said, “It’s like being at sea. You know where you’re going, but you’re not there yet.”
I’ve set off from my home port, and all the excitement and stress of departure is gone. My driving urge to get under way at all costs has been sated by pulling out into the wide, wine-dark sea. I’ve done what I can to be ready and now must simply make the journey.
And like any long sea voyage, it’s painfully boring while never being dull. There are sails to raise and set, every morning and every night. There is brass to polish and wood to wax. A monotonous litany of repetitive meals to fix, and dishes to clean. There are few storms, some bad waves even, but it’s mostly about keeping afloat and on course for a destination I know lies ahead of me but remains, frustratingly, out of sight over the curved horizon.
I fear I might go over the edge of the world before I make my new home.
This is my life right now: slightly monotonous, very tedious, a little scary, and yet still tinged with the bright hope of taking a trip to someplace new and exciting and wonderful. I don’t doubt for a second that this trip will be worth it, in the end.
In the meantime, I’m so tired. I’m often lonely. There is a familiar sense of disconnect from my life, which is familiar because I went through the same thing during my last two semesters of classes for my master’s degree at FSU. I was drained and apathetic to my own life, focused entirely on powering through classes and my job(s) in order to make it to the line in the sand marked “graduation.”
These days that line is not a clear demarcation, nor a time/date goal. It’s a lot more ephemeral, even if its parameters are concrete: I want to make a living income from my fiction writing. That’s all. It’s a rather plebian goal, to be honest, because I don’t live an extravagant life. That is, it is a goal which is imminently achievable with time, patience, hard work and dedication.* I can’t give a date when it will happen, or even really much of a timeline. To continue the metaphor I started earlier, the trade winds and sea currents on my journey are a bit unpredictable. I might make great time and get into port earlier than I ever dared hope; I might be doing a hell of a lot of tacking back and forth and retracing my steps and coming in far later than planned.
I’ll get there. It’s just a long, lonely, and hard trip to make. I’m glad I have a supportive network of friends and family…even if I don’t see them very often right now. <3
*People argue this point, and talk about being a successful writer as if it is like winning the Powerball. While I don’t deny the “luck” factor it’s really not quite as thinly sliced as that. Being a millionaire writer with a movie contract, sure, that’s a very rare creature, but there are many people these days making a living being “mid-list” indie authors. And I will be one of them.