This one doesn’t really have a point

I clench my jaw when I drive to work. I’ve always known this, but I’ve been working from home a lot more lately on a really cool project, so I’m commuting less, which is why the tension was more noticeable today. Part of that is because I just hate driving for anything more than 20 minutes – doesn’t matter where I’m going, what time of day it is, or what the weather conditions are. The one exception I’ve found to this is when we’re making the 2-hour drive to New Jersey to enjoy the delights at the Mitsuwa Japanese marketplace.

So one reason I clench is because I hate driving. The second reason is probably that my really cool special project is just about over, and it makes me sad. See, the special project was writing a book. My workplace was writing a thought leadership book and they’d hired an outside guy to do a little of it, but then there was some shuffling in the organization, the owners got moved to other jobs, and the project got pushed to the way-back burner for a while. In my time at this company, I’ve been lucky enough to make friends with a guy in the office who (a) loves my writing and (b) is an advocate for me – he tells anyone who will listen that I’m super talented, etc. I think he’s exaggerating a little, but if he believes it, I’ll take it, and because he’s respected, people have heard him. So when it came time to restart the project, I’m the one they asked to finish the book.

So for the past month, I’ve been working pretty much nonstop writing a book. For work. It has been the most magical, wonderful work experience I’ve ever had. For the first time in my life, I care about the work I’m doing, and I care about what happens to it after I’m done with it. I don’t wake up and go “oh shit, it’s day again;” I wake up and go “yeah! I’m getting paid to write today!” It’s been a solid month of using my talent and passion at my workplace, and it’s going to be really hard to go back to doing the job I’ve been doing for years prior to this project coming up – a job that I don’t like. Nothing against my workplace at all – it’s the job itself, because while it makes use of skills I have, it’s got no overlap with my talents or passions, and that can be very draining day after day. I stay in the corporate world because I’m too much of a coward and feel too much of a sense of responsibility to my husband to do my fair share and contribute to our finances and keep a “real job” so I can’t just go off into the creative wonderland and make a go at writing for a living, not when it’s so uncertain.

I know I’m a big chicken; mostly I’ve come to terms with it. But getting to write in my workplace has been the best of both worlds – I get to do something I’m passionate about, do work that I care about, and maintain the paycheck and benefits I’m accustomed to. Pretty sweet. I’m hoping that they’ll want me to write things all the time, that somehow this project will be a springboard for me into a realm where I’m doing more of what I love, which benefits everyone. Keeping my fingers crossed for that one.

Meanwhile, the writing outside work is picking up as well, not that I’m getting paid for it. But shortly after I started seeking an agent for my first novel, life got busy – planning and having a wedding, and then spending almost a month in Japan, in very tight quarters with no time to myself – not conditions that facilitate a writing habit. I could have forced myself to keep writing, but I was also a little burnt out – I’d never written and edited a book before, and I think I needed some time to let my reserves refill and spend time taking in rather than constantly producing. But I’m back at work now, diving into writing my second book, and continuing the search for an agent to represent the first. Plus, I submitted a short story to Glimmer Train for their Fiction Open contest – I’ve never submitted anything to a literary contest before, so this is new and scary for me, but I think it’s a good step for me to take. Who knows, maybe it’ll do well and that’s another notch in my belt that could help me impress agents who’d be taking a chance on a first-time author.

So, lots going on. The holidays are just around the corner, and I’m avoiding shopping at all costs because I hate piped music at the best of times, but I especially hate piped Christmas music unless it’s December 20th through the 25th. I recently watched the Peanuts Thanksgiving special, and at one point Sally and Charlie Brown talk about how it’s not even Thanksgiving and all the stores have their Christmas displays up. I was like, honey, now some stores put up partial Christmas displays BEFORE HALLOWEEN – it’s out of control, and I refuse to be part of it.

Anyway. This is kind of a ramble. All this to say, writing is going well, I’m hopeful that work will start to trend better, I hate driving, and my jaw hurts. Happy Wednesday.

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