Relief

Lately, I’ve been struggling.  Working forty hours a week and spending at least that much time on my writing career is exhausting.  Worthwhile, but exhausting.  I could eat, breathe, and sleep writing but with the rest of my life on top of it, I’m overwhelmed.  On weekends when I don’t have anything else planned, I hole up in the office and spend ten to twelve hours writing.  I come home from work and write.  I write in the car if we’re going anywhere further than half an hour and I write at work.   I average five, maybe six, hours of sleep a night.  This pace doesn’t leave much time or energy for anything else.

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I’m hardly unusual, few writers are able to support themselves solely on their writing income.  Many have children, are single parents, have no spouse, or have a partner far less helpful and supportive than mine.  Some days I have to remind myself of that because it’s easy to get caught up in the stress and anxiety.  Still, no matter how good I have it, there are days it’s overwhelming.  There are days I feel like I’m drowning in life and every day I’m just paddling to keep my head afloat.  There’s always more I could write, more promotion I could do, fewer breaks I could take.  I applied for a part-time job that would have just barely paid enough for me to take make up the difference with my writing income.  I didn’t get it.

Last summer, there was some restructuring done in my department and I was bumped from working 72 hours a pay period to 80.  I won’t go into details but suffice it to say, I didn’t have a good relationship with my manager at the time and I didn’t want the hours.  I was told I didn’t have any choice.  This spring there was more restructuring and now my department reports to a whole different set of managers.  The current ones are both reasonable and likeable and I’m slowly beginning to trust that I can go to them for help if I need it.

So a few weeks ago I spoke to one of my managers and asked if it was possible for me to cut back my hours.  She thought about it for a brief moment and said, “Of course, I am sure we can make that work.”  I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall and it wasn’t until yesterday when I signed the HR paperwork that I finally believed it would truly happen.  I felt limp with relief, like all of the stress had gone right out of me.

Starting in July, I’ll have every other Friday off.  Objectively, is it a lot?  No.  But an extra 16 hours a month to devote to my writing feels huge.   Will I still be overworked and overwhelmed and juggling too much?  Yes.  But I’m going to enjoy it.  I am going to make the most of that opportunity and push even harder.  So maybe someday I can put in my two weeks notice and support myself with my writing.

Is it a pipe dream?  Maybe.  But that’s not going to stop me from trying.

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