I was tempted to let the first anniversary of the last day at my old soul-sucking job pass by without mention. Because I felt I hadn't accomplished enough throughout that year.
But the year marked itself on Saturday, February 19, without fanfare.
I could do what I do every day: Beat myself up about the yet-unfinished novel, about how much it probably sucks, and about how long it's taking me to write it, etc., etc. I am pretty sure self-flagellation is just part of the creative process.
Instead I think I will write about what I've learned over the last year.
For starters, I learned that I really, really like not having a "real" job. I don't think I was meant to be a cubicle dweller and slave away for the man. I like wearing jeans and slippers and gigantic sweaters every day. I enjoy taking a break to go for a walk or pick up some groceries.
And strangely, I didn't really go nuts hanging out by myself for most of every day. Initially it was just a relief to get away from the craziness of a huge office, where anyone can and does enter your cubicle uninvited. It was getting harder and harder to pretend that I cared about what people had to say. Nowadays, when I get stir crazy from being alone, I arrange lunches with friends. Weekend meet-ups with family and friends always seem to fill up my socialization meter, and I feel happy. It helps to also be a little cuckoo -- I talk to myself on a regular basis and occasionally burst into song.
But, I also learned it's really, really hard to be your own boss. I am heavy handed with the vacation days, and I rarely require eight-hour work days. I've heard of writers who write for four hours every day, including weekends and holidays. These are actual successful writers, with published work. I'm noticing a difference in their work ethics versus mine. On the other hand, giving myself a bit of a break has meant I am cooking at home a lot more than I used to, which has been a nice change for my husband and I, and I even sometimes clean the bathrooms!
It is, however, a challenge to work from home. Chores beckon, as does the refrigerator. Thankfully I haven't heard the siren song of the television. And whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, at home, when it's 4 p.m. and my sugar level crashes, I can take a nap, whereas in an office I would just grab a cup of coffee and keep on trucking.
Despite the speed bumps, and despite the fact that I am not a novelist but merely a former journalist whose last creative writing class was in high school -- I am actually writing a novel. There are pages. Lots of them. With a storyline and characters and dialogue and everything. When all is said and done, I'm not even sure if I care if the book is any good, only that I finish it. There's a lot to be said for finishing stuff.