I wrote the following after this opening paragraph on Christmas Day, and, typical for me, didn't just say "it's done" and post it, but let it sit idle. Ironic, considering this post is about the tension in my life between productivity and being a slacker. One of my plans for 2016 is to not do that; to write and publish more often with less overanalyzing. So I will say that I finished the puzzle two days after Christmas, a group effort, and felt immensely satisfied and in awe of the beauty of the photo and the bridge. That kind of determination to sit and focus and get it done is what I need to bring to my work, not tomorrow or next week or next year, but immediately. Today I head home and will spend this week wrapping up my final 2015 bylines and tasks and preparing to start the new year proudly. Friday I will use accounting software for the first time in my life, which feels shameful to admit, but better late than never. I will be working from my mostly bookless office, which the books are all packed up, and maybe that will be a source of comfort, to go back to basics, to work without so many potential distractions for a week or so. I also finished listening to Millennial and it both made me wish, in some ways, that I was a Millennial, with all my adult life ahead of me, and made me realize I need to work on my life in big and small ways so that I know my worth, and value it, like she does. And now, the post...
For some reason, this week spent at my boyfriend's parents' house, full of food and family and gifts and vacation, has been one where I've felt inspired to be productive, which I haven't felt the last few weeks. I've felt frantic and behind and unstable and, frankly, afraid that I wasn't cut out to work for myself. But somewhere along the way from New Jersey to Virginia, that changed. I wrote 5 articles for Salon, blogged a bit, made plans for future articles and essays and book promotions, got chills listening to the Millennial podcast because I recognized so many of my own deep fears about following my artistic dreams, something that still holds me back to this day but that I'm trying to shed. I think that something about being here has made me feel just a little less pressure, even though I have deadlines and pitches I want to get out and all the usual stressful to do list tasks. I worked with editors this week, but I also allowed myself a little break, and am trying not to over schedule my next few weeks because I am packing to move and getting ready to launch my most important anthology that I have such high high hopes for, and then going to Los Angeles and San Francisco to teach workshops and do a reading.
That doesn't come easily for me; I feel like the supreme slacker who won't be able to pay my rent if I am not working all the time, which could mean simply plotting in my head how I will go about earning my next dollar. I have no steady income, and this year, along with some amazing, pinch me opportunities I will always be grateful for, I also saw a newspaper I wrote my first ever weekly column for close, a steady writing contract end, and a lot of ups and downs. Being 40 and determined to become a mom pretty much however I can, no matter what it takes, I feel that lack of stability all the more. So trying to be successful by stepping back feels illogical, scary and wrong, but I also know that for my sanity, I have to cut myself some slack. I have to be more judicious and strategic, to learn from my mentors, from the people whose books and podcasts I admire. I am working on launching some new websites, hopefully webinars if I can figure out how to do it (webinars seem like one of those things people say are "easy," but don't realize that some of us have no clue how to do the most basic internet tasks and are too busy earning a living in other ways to learn). I know I need to do a makeover on my business structure, I just haven't had the time to delineate exactly what I want to change and how to go about that.
Today, while my boyfriend and his dad enjoy cigars I gave them, I'm doing this jigsaw puzzle of the Brooklyn Bridge, one of six puzzles I received this week. I'm thinking about how I want to end the year, how I want to begin the next one, what kind of new home office I want to create when I move in a few weeks, and how I can go after what I want while also forgiving myself if I don't get it all. But for today, this Jewish girl who's celebrating my fourth Christmas with this extra family has one goal: finish this 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle before I go home on Monday.