Thursday, June 12, 2014

Aspiring writer tells boss to eff off, lives happily ever after (sort of)

I've been working on the same novel for about four years now. The first three years were touch and go. I wrote two very crappy drafts. A writing instructor told me that I needed to change protagonists. Ugh. This same writing teacher also told me not to give up.

So I didn't.

And finally, in the last year, I gained traction. I started to make progress. And then, halleleujah, I was actually writing fiction again. Every day. Actually getting somewhere.

Wandering in the desert of half-baked ideas
It was such a relief after the last seven years spent wandering in the desert of half-baked ideas. I never stopped writing fiction during that time but I also started and lost faith in a multitude of projects. Despaired of ever finishing anything ever again. Wrote thousands (millions?) of words that will never see the light of day.

Now at least I know I'm going somewhere. I don't actually know where but I'm in a groove that I haven't had since the good old writing BreakupBabe: A Novel days.

Boredom and burnout sets in 
Only it's just a long f*cking haul writing a novel. I'm getting a little bored and burned out at the moment. I'm tired of not writing OTHER things.

I love writing essays, for example. And I really want to write some essays while still writing my novel, even though it's challenging to juggle multiple projects while holding down a full time job.

In particular I want to enter this Real Simple essay contest. A $3000 prize and no entry fee. What's not to love? The theme is "Eureka moments."

The Eureka moment when I told my boss to f*ck off
So I've been thinking about Eureka moments. And I remembered one that I'd tried to write about before, in my unpublished memoir Temporary Insanity.

This moment occurred in about 1999, when a corporate boss of mine (who'd just taken over for a previous boss) asked me - in a "getting to know you" chat --  if I was the "kind of person who gave 150%" to their job, or "the kind of person who just did what needed to be done and then went home at night."

Now we all know what answer we're supposed to give here, right? At least if we want the kind of boss who would ask this question to like us.

But that moment dovetailed with the a moment in my life when I was realizing that I needed to be writing my own stuff outside work to be fulfilled. To be writing something big - like a novel or memoir. I was ready to the Writer that I'd dreamed of and worked toward since age 10. Ready to organize my life around that, and to make it the highest priority.

I didn't give a crap about my corporate job, even if it was sort of creative and involved writing. It paid the bills, that was it. The exciting stuff for me was what I wrote OUTSIDE work. And I realized, then, in that moment that I would NEVER be the kind of person to give "150%" to a day job like that.
The question was, was I gonna lie about it or not?

Well I didn't. I told the truth. And my boss hated me after that and work was pretty hellish and I eventually left. (Everyone got laid off not long after, including many, I'm sure, who'd claimed to give 150%!)

But it meant something for me to say that. It liberated me. And ever since, I can honestly say I've been living the life of a Writer, with all its disappointments and satisfactions.

And that includes needing a corporate job to survive!