I'm sure some of you, some of you who have, literally, nothing else to do but think of me and what I'm up to lately, might have wondered recently just what in the name of God I'm doing with myself now that I've quit my job, spent the summer in Maine and am allegedly trying to "further my career." The answer is, well, complicated. Complicated because, you see, I'm still figuring it out myself. But to break it down to a bare bones explanation, what I'm doing is attempting to jumpstart my freelancing career by writing letters and emails to various publications and trying to get them to think I'm great, and thus allow me to write articles that they'll print, for which they will pay me hundreds of dollars. Or ten. Ten dollars. Whatever. I'd prefer hundreds, though.
What I'm also "doing" (doing in quotation marks because I'm not doing it at all, yet) is working on pieces I think fit for publication. For instance, a piece on young people and politics, or modern careers and marriage or how to best keep oneself focused in a coffee shop without visiting MySpace 10,000 times in one sitting, because damnit, it's hard to stay focused.
That's what I'm coming up against really. The whole focus thing. I don't have a hard time with it normally, but when you're faced with the great unknown and no deadlines and nobody around asking what you are working on, well, it's hard to get down to work, especially when you aren't sure what "work" is because, you know, you don't work. Not like nine to five heading to the office and all. You work when you vacuum the house, yeah you do. But that's different.
But focus I can gain. I can create a schedule and really work with this time I've got now, because that is, after all, why I left the job. I believe in myself and my ability to succeed, going the unconventional route. Plus, it hasn't been long. A schedule and acheiving some sort of day-to-day sense of accomplishment will come. Already I'm getting better. At first, months ago, I was nervous to write to random editors with my ideas. Then I got a few things published and am now learning even more about how it works. I'm comfortable emailing complete strangers to tell them I'd like to write for them. Pretty soon I'll be walking up to people on the sidewalk, people just minding their own business, and asking them if they'd like to contribute a quote to my yet-unpublished piece that may-never-be-published, "but trust me, it's going to be great, just great."
It will come, the work, and eventually I'll know what it is I do and will be able to define it when people ask. I have a work ethic and was always well aware that this transitional period woud be a bit tough getting going, but I have hope.
I feel the real problem may be far deeper and harder to overcome.
When I'm reading these books on writing and looking at these publications and the current state of affairs in the nation, all I really want to be doing is this sort of thing. Writing about the mundane. The minor moments. And I wonder if I can ever truly get away with doing that for a living. To me, these moments in a person's life, although perhaps self-indulgent, are so worthy of permanent recording.
This weekend I went on a quick, overnight trip to Maryland, to pick up my darling Cecilia, just back from Maine with my parents (if you'd like to see a couple pictures of the trip, including some heartbreaking ones of the moment Lucy, my parent's dog, realized I was taking Cecilia away and jumped into my backseat, check out my Flickr account). On our way out of town, my mother, father and I stopped at a new coffee place to get something for the road. My mother and I spent a while inside checking out the items for sale, particularly these really decadent-looking chocolate crumble cake things that we pointed to about 10 or 20 times before deciding we'd make do with a biscotti each, then grabbed our coffee and met my father out in the parking lot where he hemmed and hawed and said things like, "Jesus! You guys were in there forever. Ehhhhhhhhh!"
I looked at him disappovingly and then found my target.
"Your fly's down," I said, from across the lot.
"Your fly's down," I repeated, a smile making it's way into my faux-angry expression regarding his impatience.
"YOUR FLY'S DOWN!"
He looked, zipped it up, and said, "No it's not," as my mother watched the scene, laughing at us, but also shaking her head, as if to let us know that the moment certainly had it's merit, but she had a biscotti that was really a little more deserving of her time.