Spinning Plates (February 25, 2011)

Ever since I started a full-time job a couple of weeks ago, I have been forced to do something I loathe: admit that sometimes, as much as I want to, it’s impossible do it all. More specifically, I am referring to maintaining this blog, reading the work of other writers I admire and staying up on current events. Sure I have been able to grab some of the headlines: Libya’s Qaddafi the next dictator on his way out, Charlie’s Sheen’s bizarre war with his long-enabling network, Christine O’Donnell’s possible appearance on Dancing with the Stars, and the fulfillment of my secret wish that Eliot Spitzer be allowed to host his CNN hour without the dull as can be Kathleen Parker. Be that as it may, I haven’t been able to engage in the media deep dive I had ample time to enjoy as a member of the mass unemployed community.

I am not complaining. I am enjoying a career fulfillment this year which seemed so remote just eight weeks ago. I love my new position and am enjoying the challenges and opportunities to develop my skill set as a multi-media professional.

But there is that Catch-22. While enjoying financial security through ghost writing for another, I must give shorter shrift to my personal ambitions as an author, ambitions that to this point, have done absolutely nothing to pay the bills or provide a life direction. I get so frustrated with myself sometimes. Why can’t I let things be enough? I was a miserable, depressed insomniac before I found myself in this place. Being solvent again has rectified most of that turmoil, but in it’s stead is a lesser, but still persistent guilt, a voice in my head that not-so-gently goes to sleep and wakes up with me. It whispers that I have TWO jobs – the one that pays the rent and the fiscally thankless one of trying to build my own brand (whatever that means) and hone my craft.

I have written before that I am the ultimate late bloomer. I didn’t stop growing until I was 21, finally put on my first big girl bra at age 25, figured out that I wanted (needed) to write at age 30 and removed my braces (and finally gained some self-esteem) at age 31. It is terribly frustrating to realize sometimes that as I round the corner toward 33, I am far from done maturing. I am, in a very real way, still trying to figure it all out. I realize I am not alone in my extended adolescence but when I recall that Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice in her early 20s, I feel so….embarrassed I think is the word for which I’m looking. I can’t even imagine being someone’s mother and I remain in awe of all the career women who do it, and do it well.

What’s my point? Besides articulating the thoughts that have taken up residency in my consciousness the last fortnight, I am wondering if other writers, of both sexes, struggle with this tension between being a part of the literal working world, while still nurturing and cherishing the dream. It’s exhausting, it can be exhilarating, but is it sustainable, or does one eventually have to make a decision about which plate they will take off the stick and eat from eternally?

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