Learning to Work

This is the first blogpost of some ramblings about where my thoughts are lately. Read at your peril.

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great pic from the Bookshelf Porn blog (click on the link to visit)

Some years ago I bumped into a former colleague from Everett Community College, and asked her how early retirement was going. It had been two years since she left, and she admitted, smiling, that it had taken her two years just to figure out “how” to be retired.

Her smile baffled me. Wry? Chagrined? Embarrassed? No, it seemed genuine. But I can still remember thinking to myself, That won’t be me. If I get to retire from teaching–ever–I will make hay while the sun shines! I will write, and I’ll never look back.

But here I am, a little more than two years into this thing, and still learning how to be the writer I have dreamed all my life of being.

I tried to explain this yesterday to my poetry-group friends. I am aware that from the outside it looks as if I’m a successful writer. I have books! I blog! I send out poems and they are published! I finished a novel rewrite last year, and I’m so pleased to discover that I’m more than 100 pages into my new novel manuscript (abandoned in spring of 2014).

Putting it that way makes it sound so great.

Even so, I don’t feel as though I’ve learned how to really work as a writer. I scribble in my journal. I write down my goals and I think about them. I read inspirational books. Eventually I actually read a few pages of poetry or of a chapter.

mom 2015And everything calls me away. I have lunch with an old friend. I go to the gym. I visit my mom. I read a novel. I clean my house (!). I sort through boxes and throw papers away. I take my 16 year old to Barnes & Noble for a study date. I join a church committee. I register for a conference. I read several blogs about setting goals. I read another novel. I watch 3 episodes of Dr. Who (only in the evening, mind you). I decide to find a new blog theme!

None of this is bad, of course, and some of it is utterly necessary. But, getting back to my former colleague, what do I want to be doing with my time? What was it I meant to be doing with my time? Now that I’ve spent those two years floundering around and finding myself, what am I going to do with myself? 

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