Writing Myself Off the Ledge

I should be working on my novel right now, and instead, I'm here, writing myself off the ledge.

It is...interesting as I try to fight the kinds of reactions that my body has been having to stress over the years. I would say that everything was pretty much on target until Thursday, when I had a stress attack about how much I was doing at work. THAT was progress, because normally I embrace registration week with the fervor of a drama junkie, and I didn't.

Oh the whining! It burns!

Things go a bit awry at the weekend. Every two months we're scheduled to go up to Minneapolis to game with friends, and this was that weekend. I *like* going to Minneapolis. I *like* gaming. I *like* my friends. I made plans to work out and eat good food and I even lost weight while I was there. (Yes, yes indeedy). But it was most likely not the best weekend to go. Why? Well, the previous week had been registration at work. If I'd had any brains at all, I would have stayed at home and regrouped. I would've seen Thor (and I did do that.) I would have stayed home and helped the sick cat (who needs to go back to vet next week, because she's just not improving), and I would have worked on my novel.

I didn't do that. I've been thinking about that. I keep finding myself trying to push as hard as I do in the ferocious living of my life, and I'm not 20. Or 30. I'm 48, and I get tireder. And I have this nature that wears myself out. I also find myself concerned about disappointing others, and I know how much Bryon likes these trips and gaming. I do too, but this weekend, this was not the wisest choice.

Then there's this Icon thing this weekend. I am really ready for Paradise Icon 2, and I'm looking forward to it, but I am having trouble at this stage of things with the rest of the con, because I am concerned with things that aren't my responsibility.

For example, there are issues about getting people to and from the airport. This isn't my job at all, and most of it has been taken care of as of today, in plenty of time, but I am so angry at people for not planning ahead and not taking responsibility for what they said they would do.

I should leave this stuff entirely alone. It has nothing to do with me. It's not my job. The problems were resolved. I will grant you that this wouldn't have happened if I hadn't intervened, and I resent that. I have this problem with trusting people to do things competently, and whether that's justified or not, this simply wasn't my business. And yet, I am getting worked up about it. And I am judging these people, which is also not cool.

Then, there's this treasury overlay, and I'm finding that there is a lot of panic as people realize that they can't front money for things and get reimbursed. So I'm spending some time resolving those issues. The treasury job isn't nearly as easy as one was lead to be believed.

I am very frustrated that I signed up for NaNoWriMo so I could finish the first draft of my current book. Here is what my very full life has offered me this month at work: Registration, a lesson for Brazilians, a Thanksgiving workshop in the language lab, planning for orientation and oral placement interviews, a new course for spring, and research into writing a fire fighting English course (guess who gets to take the History and Philosophy of the Fire Fighting Service as a class this spring? I actually am looking forward to this.)

Yes, that's a lot, but you know what, I've really got it in hand, and I am not worried about it. It's done, and that stays at work. I have got the job under control.

However, and this is what I'm learning from this month, and I'm going to talk to David about in a couple of weeks, look at the down time I don't have to recuperate from that. Last week I went to Minneapolis. This week Icon. Next weekend, a day trip to Bryon's mom for Thanksgiving. And then our own Disney vacation for Thanksgiving. All that sounds wonderful, yes? Essentially I'm complaining about a surfeit of wonderful, except that I'm always busy and I don't have down time, and I'm not leaving myself time to do my art. Much of my free time is taken up exercising (worthy!) and socializing (also worthy!), but not used for reflection, rest, and creativity. And I won't talk about week nights, because 2 or 3 nights a week, we're out.

It is very clear I need rest. Last night I cancelled a trip to a friend's birthday and went home to rest and hang out with my husband. Because we've both been working in separate rooms on Icon projects in our house where the dining room is ripped up getting a new ceiling, or doing Minneapolis in separate cars while he chauffeurs and I am chauffered because I am too worried about other people's comfort to say I want to ride with him when I did.

*Deep breath.* Yes, I am exactly where I hoped I wouldn't be with a vicious vengeance. I expect this is what they call backlash as you try to change yourself. So, as Bryon would say, "What's your plan?"

I will weather this month and do what I have committed to, because I don't want to be that person that other people think of like I'm thinking of people who don't have their act together. Responsibility is a hang up of mine, but I think it might be a good hang up.

And then I need to learn to say no. I have already committed to being Icon treasurer again for next year. That's going away. I will happily do the the writing workshop. That is energizing and wonderful, and I love it! But in this busy life, I do not need another thing to do just because I am competent and someone needs someone competent. So, no. I will need to look at all the things I do with a critical eye. I may quit some things I enjoy, not because I no longer enjoy them, but because I am doing too much.

Bryon and I will have a discussion about our social engagements and my new needs. One of the reasons I find social engagements more taxing than I did is I need more me time and I need more creative time. Also, if I'm tired all the time, how can I enjoy things? I also need more us time.

What am I saying? I'm saying that I like my job, and I have it contained, and that helps. I've done that, and I'll keep working at that. But I'm doing some things that still feel like work outside of work, and even if I enjoy them, these are a drain. I need to focus on delight and creativity outside of work. And you know, other people will look after themselves and survive pretty well without me looking out for them, I'm sure. Which is exactly the same kind of thing I did with my family, look out for folks. I gotta stop that, for sure.

And I just gotta cut down on the sheer amount of things I do. I don't want to stop seeing people, or enjoying them, or hermit up. I do know I want to write every day, and I'm going to spend some time this weekend talking to an expert who does that in spite of having a family, a full time job, and a lucrative and demanding publishing career. Hell, if he can do it, why can't I, when I have so much less going on?

But I'm thinking maybe less. Maybe only ONE thing a week. And maybe only ONE weekend a month. Could I do that? What a dream.

Lots to think about here. Now, I have to go put in some time in the office, and it will be good time, and I will leave work at work. Thanks for listening.

About Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump is a writer tamago (egg) trying to publish for the first time. Watch her try to break out of the shell of the unpublished writer!

3 thoughts on “Writing Myself Off the Ledge

  1. After I was treasurer for the OWFI for a year, my husband forbade me to volunteer for anything for at least 5 years. It's amazing how draining that type of organizational work is.

    And yes, I got all stresssed out this weekend, so I understand the freak out. I did the same yesterday, and couldn't even write because I was too freaked. But I got a good night's sleep, and things -are- looking better. So I'm hoping that things look better to you, too, soon...

  2. Josh E says:

    Funny, that Sounds remarkably similar to Conversations Lindsay and I have also about social engagements and too many things on our (mine or hers) plates.

    Its a difficult line to walk, the being busy vs too many things. I usually find it much more difficult this time of year in particular because of all of the fall things

    Hugs and stuff
    -Josh

  3. Lisa the M. says:

    I should have applied for a party/naptime room for the con this year. Anyway, looking forward to seeing you.

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