Apologies if I alarmed anyone yesterday. I think our culture has some unhealthy attitudes toward negative feelings, so that expressing them is seen as some kind of danger sign. I’m actually feeling really good. I’ve had so much of that negativity simmering beneath the surface for so long, with me refusing to acknowledge it, so being able to say that this is bad and I’m unhappy about it and going to do something about it was a rather positive thing. I feel like I’ve taken back control of my life.
If I were working for someone else and my pay kept getting cut even though I was doing the same amount of work and even though my work was generally considered to be of good quality, and if I kept having new duties added to my work that weren’t in my original job description, and if I never got promoted and I was ignored or forgotten when it came to getting assignments or opportunities, I’d definitely be looking for another job, even if I liked what I was doing. Why not allow myself the same consideration when I’m working for myself?
I started thinking about what I’d want to do if writing fiction was off the table, and I think my dream job using my existing skill set would be to do communications work for a non-profit, some cause I could believe in. That’s where being able to find and tell a story using narrative structure can really help. Spouting statistics doesn’t get much of a response. Telling a story about people we can relate to does. And as soon as I put that out there, I got a response from someone who wants to talk.
That gave me the idea of maybe starting a business doing this as a consultant to smaller organizations that can’t necessarily hire a full-time staff member but still need some help. Sometimes just helping them find their story and developing their talking points and then maybe creating some brochures and web site copy is all they need to get them going, and they can take it from there. That way, I’d still have the flexibility and freedom I enjoy now, but I’d have another source of income and something else going on in my life to give me a sense of accomplishment and purpose. That would lessen the sting from all the ups and downs of a writing career. And I might still be able to write — if I didn’t have a lot of work, I could do some writing, or if I had a writing deadline, I could back off on work.
I may still need a little time away from the publishing world just to get my head back on straight and find the joy in it again. I’m feeling pretty beaten up right now and need a new perspective. I guess I’m still looking for a sign that I should stay in it.
But it’s amazing how good it feels to have a plan. You can’t have a solution to a problem unless you acknowledge the problem, and that can mean facing some negative things. But once you analyze the problem, you can start coming up with solutions. I hadn’t realized how long I’ve been living in a constant state of worry, hurt, and misery, and it feels like a huge weight off my shoulders to get it out of my system. I wonder if some of my health problems may even have been related to this eating away at me. Now, in the immortal words of Elsa, I can Let It Go!