Mountains and Buckets

Hey there, threes of fans.

It seems like I start out a lot of these posts after a hiatus with something akin to “I didn’t realize how much time went by” or “I’ve been super busy with no time to blog.” This time… No such excuses.

I just didn’t want to blog.

It’s been a rough few weeks for me. Not for the family–everyone around here seems to be doing pretty well. Just for me. I think I’ve been a little stuck inside my own head, and it’s taking a Herculean effort to pull myself out of it this time.

Part of the problem is that I seem to have injured my hamstring. I’m pretty sure it’s a minor overwork/strain kind of injury, because I’m getting around most of the time pretty much okay. I just can’t really run. I’m walking, doing yoga, and lifting weights (keeping it light on the sore hamstring), but it’s taking forever to heal. And honestly, though walking is great, it doesn’t really do for me what running does–at least, not mentally. In addition, this strain or whatever it is is making driving even more exhausting than usual, because sitting in my car seems to aggravate this injury to a ridiculous degree.

Anyway, while I struggle through that, I’ve also been struggling with writing–both fiction and commercial copywriting.

Some of the struggle has been unavoidable. I took the eldest daughter–my 18-year-old senior–to Montana for five days to look at colleges. Several things about this:

  1. It was apparently still winter in Montana.
  2. Sitting on airplanes and driving long distances in a very tiny rental car did not do my hamstring any favors.
  3. I may be slightly or more than slightly in love with Montana.
Apparently, winter lasts till late March in Montana.

The upshot: I think my daughter has settled on a college. It’s off to Montana in August.

The week after I got home, we had the grandson for two days, and then two more days the week after that. And don’t get me wrong–I love the little stinker and enjoy our time with him, and I want to see him as much as I can since the family is moving across the country this summer. My son joined the Navy, so the three of them will be moving to the East Coast while he does two years of school for the job he’ll be doing.

(Side note: Suddenly next fall, two of my kids will be in other states. That’s weird. It’s good–military life and college life are good things–but it’s weird.)

I did my daily words while we were in Montana–mostly I did them–and I finished an article for a client, but since I came home, I just…

I kind of fell off the habit wagon. Well, at least when it comes to writing.

I am struggling mightily with seeing the point in it all–the point in struggling to fit it all in. How in the everloving hell do people find the time for all this–work, play, parenting, hobbies, basic self-care? I’m not joking. I know we all have 24 hours in every day. How on earth do other people fit it in?

In any given typical week, when I don’t have a ton of extra stuff on my plate and I have a light weekend schedule before the week begins, I can start out with the best of intentions. I can grocery shop and do laundry on the weekend, plan out dinners, get everything written in my planner so that I know where people have to be, make a plan for exercise for the week, and probably do a little cleaning–not scrubbing everything, but getting bathrooms clean and sweeping the tumbleweeds of dog and cat hair and clearing the clutter. And I can feel like I’m ready to face Monday morning.

And every week, it only takes about six or seven hours for stuff to go awry.

Something always happens to derail things. We need to babysit, or kids forget stuff, or someone needs a ride somewhere, or schedules change, or I discover a dozen fiddly little errands that need to be done, or just the daily attempts to communicate with my kids or husband derail an hour or two or more, and before I know it…

It’s Friday, and I’ve accomplished nearly nothing.

And that’s if the demons don’t attack–the demons of bad parenting and crappy writing and whichever friends they decide to bring along.

And… they brought along a whole big fraternity of friends right around the beginning of April, and they didn’t leave till… well, yesterday.

The biggest struggle I’m facing right now with writing is what to do with my freelancing business. I can squeeze fiction writing into the spare moments, but I can’t really give the commercial writing the attention it needs if I keep trying to squeeze it in to the spare moments. It just doesn’t work. So I haven’t been doing any prospecting or selling or trying to drum up business at all, and I’m trying to figure out why I struggle so much with it.

It’s not that I don’t want to do commercial writing or ghostwriting–I do! I really do enjoy it very much, and I want to have a thing of my own, and I would love to be able to help my kids cash flow the things they want to do, like college. I do want to have a full-time freelancing business with a little fiction writing on the side–that’s always been my dream. But the whole thought process for it goes something like this:

  1. “I am going to sit down this week and prospect and start really pushing this till I find some clients.”
  2. “But first, I’ll just do seventeen things that need to be done, like exercising, grocery shopping, taking kids to school, preparing dinner, etc., etc.”
  3. “Okay, now I can do the prospecting… But it’s late, so I’ll just do a little research on people or companies/read a little on other copywriter sites/do a little training.”
  4. “Dang, these people/companies have great writers/these writers have great websites/these copywriters know a ton more than I do/have a way better voice than I do/are far more modern than I am. I’m pretty sure I’m not the writer the market needs.”
  5. “That’s okay, I’ll just work on my fiction/do my 1,000 words. Except, what’s the point in that? I don’t make any money from it. I should do more with the business.”
  6. “But I don’t have time to do the prospecting/selling, because then who would do the taxi driving/grocery shopping/cooking? And besides, I don’t know enough/don’t write the right kind of things/don’t have the samples/don’t have good ideas.”
  7. “I could hire help around the house/delegate to the people who live here, but it doesn’t make sense to hire help when I’m not earning money, and everyone else around here is busier than I am with better things than I’m doing, so I’ll just do it myself.”
  8. “Screw it all. I’ll just do the domestic bliss thing.”

And that’s where I’ve been since the beginning of April–trying to do the domestic bliss thing, or my version of it–cooking, reading, knitting, doing a little more cleaning than usual (which is a low bar, admittedly), and generally losing my ever-lovin’.

I am not wired for domestic bliss.

I’ve concluded that the struggle with freelancing fits into three basic buckets:

Bucket #1: The work/family balance thing that I’ve been struggling with for years.

Bucket #2: Imposter syndrome or lack of confidence or whatever you want to call it–that sense that whatever I have isn’t good enough or isn’t what people want/need in a copywriter/ghostwriter/author.

Bucket #3: Prospecting/selling and finding/signing the right clients. I feel like I need more of a roadmap or something. Maybe I’m just not focused enough on the right prospects–I don’t know.

Bucket #1 is honestly probably the easiest one to tackle, ironically. This does not mean that I know how to tackle it. It just means that it’s the most basic–find more hours every day to work, whatever form that takes. Bucket #2–well, I don’t know. I guess my hope would be that by forcing myself to do more around Bucket #3, maybe I’ll force myself out of the funk that gets me trapped in Bucket #2.

So once again, I’m in reset mode. I’m backing up and looking at whatever roadmap I do have and making sure boxes are checked and all the right things are in the right places. And as I go, I’m starting a list of the distractions I have that derail me and my schedule. This is something my husband suggested–that I write down all the things that distract or derail me for a few weeks and then see if we can divide those things up a bit or solve some problems. This idea makes a lot of sense to me, because I think it will help me identify what can be genuinely solved or delegated to take some pressure off me.

And I’ll be getting back to Unquickened, too. I’m honestly very close to being done with the first draft. I’ve just been stubbornly refusing to open the document for two weeks. I’m my own worst enemy. But yes, I’m going to get back to it.

This was long. I guess that’s what happens when I’m away for a few weeks. I’ll try to get back to the weekly thing, at least to update y’all on Unquickened. And maybe update you on my hamstring.


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