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Aug. 2nd, 2003

It's been a crazy summer. We've been traveling (as a group or separately) more than we've been home this year, a real change from previous lazy summers with a single family vacation to break the monotony of sun, sweat, and swimming.

I've also been dealing with a lot of personal soul-searching about what I want out of life, in some big and some small ways. That's always hard for me, because it's in my nature to take specific action, and quickly, when I'm dissatisfied with something. It's also a trait that often takes me straight out of the frying pan and into the fire.

I've been working hard these last two or three years on letting things arrange themselves (I guess this will sound cheesey) sort of serendipitously rather than trying to force them into my predefined buckets and plans. I know it's a good theory, since looking back on life, I can see that the majority of truly *good* things that have happened in my life have happened almost as if by accident.



So I've spent the summer thinking and restraining myself from action and just *waiting*. This was a week that may lead to an end of the waiting.

First, I started the week off with a visit to New Orleans. I didn't really think I *should* go, because I've missed a day or two every week for the entire month of July. Admittedly, I've worked far more than the usual 40 hours even with those missing days, so the company is getting full value, but it's a corporate environment, and folks notice when you're gone, not when you're there. I thought more than once about begging off the way one might to a wedding or a baby shower. But it was Mr. Chris's GaGa's 90th birthday, and lord have mercy, is she a woman. I couldn't miss it, and submitted to two fairly noxious air travel nightmares to get to NOLA on Sunday and return Tuesday afternoon.

The travel truly was awful, the hotel was subpar, and GOD how good it was to go home again. There's no place in this world that feels as much like home to me as New Orleans, Louisiana. And since graduation more than 10 years (not saying how much more than 10 *g*) ago, trips back have been full of familial duty, stays in GaGa's small condo, and during the school year, when the feel of the city is just plain different. This go, we stayed at the (not so good) hotel, smack in the middle of Lee Circle, and after the days' and evenings' activities, we had the run of the streetcar with only the murk of New Orleans at night to hold us back. Two days with little sleep and lots of food and drink. It was a soul restorative.

Then when I *finally* made it back on Tuesday, I had to good sense to remember that I'd wanted to try to have coffee or dinner with mezzibelle on Wednesday, when I'd be free of the usual straight-home-to-dinner-and-kids restraints. She was available, thank goodness, and I worked like a demon on Wednesday and headed out to the Scary Place (that's the mall, to normal people) to have a lovely, lovely dinner at an asian noodle place. Mmmmm. Mai tai and Thai fire. Bought the McCaffrey dragon juveniles at B&N for older son (that's another post, though...*mentally waxes rhapsodic*), and headed home with iced coffee in the cupholder and (don't shoot me) Olivia Newton John and Rick Springfield in the cd player.

Through the hour-long drive, my brain focused in on the postcard erotica contest that harmonyfb had posted about. For some reason, I really latched onto this particular opportunity when she posted about it. It's right up my alley, with a clear theme and set of expectations from the contest judges. And a big part of what's been tearing around my head for these last couple of months is to do with writing and what part I want it to play in my life. I'd already written a few paragraphs and had a notion of what I wanted the tiny plot to be. In the car, I mentally focused on the images I wanted to come through -- it was all to be about hot, heavy summer nights in the south. To play with the eroticism in the feel of one of those moments.

When I got home, I diddled around a bit on the computer, threw the contest over to nashvillain615, and procrastinated by editing the shit out of her piece to help get it down to the required 300-word limit. I have learned that I really, really enjoy editing good fiction (as distinct from editing crap journalism or poorly-constructed fiction). And as a result of that night, I've learned that a nice bout with pulling words apart and putting them back together somehow the same, but better, is a great way to exorcise my inner editor. I was tired (having slept an average of 4 hrs a night since the prior Friday), and lay down to sleep at a reasonable hour. The arthritis in my shoulder has been in a bad state of late, and the pain kept me awake, as did my brain. I gave up, and returned to the computer and finished the postcard piece. Even lucked out and found a mean-ass editor (thanks, wisemack) to help me identify the bumps and bruises that needed healing. Before I knew it, it was 3am, and the piece was finished. And it wasn't half-bad. I'm determined to fight the urge I have to post it to the board where the contest is being run and see what the judges think of it (that would disqualify me from entering *this* bit and cause me to write another). So I found a couple of likely souls with an affinity for rhythm and words, and got their input, too. It really is finished now... And I'm gonna submit it. As soon as I find a g-d title. There are three distinct layers to the piece, and I can't find a title that will encompass them all. There's the imagery and feel, there's the twist at the end that tells you at the last moment what's actually been going on, and there's the thematic sexual power thread. Grr.

Got a little off track. The important point in all of that mish-mash is that I wrote a piece of fiction that I intend to submit for real honest to god publication, with the transfer of rights and everything. And it wasn't a technical manual, it wasn't an academic paper, and it wasn't a news article. It probably sounds trivial to you real writers out there, but it's truly a momentous thing to me. Am I really going to do this?

Which brings me through to Thursday. When my boys came home. I honestly don't have the words to describe how much my tiny little isolated homebody family means to me. How much I love them, these three alien lifeforms which form the core of my existence. How much turmoil I feel with my innate selfishness and the selflessness that jumps to the fore where they are concerned. And what is writing, if not the ultimate in selfishness (selfful would be a better word for it, were there such a word).

Thursday bled into Friday in a flurry of laundry and dirty boys and weird but complimentary experiences with Vice Presidents. And Mr. reminded me of the new company locating about 5 miles from my house. Their job fair was to be today. I've plenty of relevant experience, and there are *zero* companies of the sort I work for in my local area (thus that hour commute each way).

This is the other thing that's been weighing on my mind of late. How to reconcile the corporate, high-energy program manager who is breadwinner for the family with my inner hermit and writer... We're only semi-integrated into our new NC community (moved here almost 3 years ago, though it seems like yesterday). And with my current contract running out in January, we've been talking in fits and starts about whether we want to relocate, whether we'd do it to another both-of-us-work situation, or if I'd make the jump to management and support the family exclusively while Mike freelanced from home.

In my heart of hearts, I am truly torn. I get a charge and not a small amount of my identity from what I do for a living. I'm very good at it, and I get lots of positive feedback and very little negative around my employment. Hard to say that about being a mother, or a wife, and I don't expose my writing enough to really know what's going on there. Most of my feedback is intrapersonal (is that the right word? Think multiple personality disorder here...), and with my mother sitting on my shoulder and the inner editor in my brain stem, the feedback can hardly be said to be positive. But I *want* it. The writing, that is. Far more than I want money or security or traditional validation. Not more than I want a certain kind of security for my children, however.

Which brings me to Saturday, and the whole serendipity theory of life. I went ahead and went to the job fair, even though I'd checked the thing out. The company itself is an *excellent* fit for me, but none of the specific postings they had were perfect fits. I wandered in and the HR lackeys were going to send me away b/c I wasn't interested in the low level positions they had most of, and that the majority of applicants in this agricultural/manufacturing/15.5% unemployed rural county were applying for. Fortunately for me, the Chamber of Commerce lady caught sight of resume and found a manager. I ended up in 2 hrs of interviews, and I could get excited about this place. Ambivalent hardly describes my feelings about the possibility of an offer, but my gut tells me that this could turn out to be the right compromise. I'd gain back an average of 8 hours of my life a week. And although committing to this locality long-term is a dicey prospect for me, taking a job here would mean putting down serious roots. I would feel more settled, and when I'm more settled, I'm much more able to sort life's various threads into balance.

Which would, I hope, leave more time and energy for the writing. Yes, things in my life are converging upon some kind of change. I just hope I can keep my interfering mits out of all the stuff that's whirling around long enough to see the patterns.

Can't believe I've written all this, and I *really* can't believe you're still reading.

*waves to the other nuts in the fruitcake*

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
gwynnega
Aug. 2nd, 2003 09:28 pm (UTC)
The important point in all of that mish-mash is that I wrote a piece of fiction that I intend to submit for real honest to god publication, with the transfer of rights and everything. And it wasn't a technical manual, it wasn't an academic paper, and it wasn't a news article. It probably sounds trivial to you real writers out there, but it's truly a momentous thing to me. Am I really going to do this?

Yes, you are, Chris, and good for you! :-)

How much turmoil my innate selfishness (and what is writing, if not the ultimate in selfishness (selfful would be a better word for it, were there such a word).

Selfful - I like that. But I don't know about selfish - because when we write, and especially when we write and show other people our work, I don't think we're just doing it for ourselves...

chrisjournal
Aug. 3rd, 2003 10:22 am (UTC)
Nods. I hear you. I didn't mean to imply that everything about writing is selfish. More that the act of writing itself is naturally solitary and self-focused, especially in the context of how we allocate our time and energy across different aspects of our lives... Selfful fits better :-)

Thanks for the encouragement. I'm ridiculously neurotic right now, and it helps.
siobhan_w
Aug. 3rd, 2003 01:09 am (UTC)
*waves to the other nuts in the fruitcake*

Dontcha know? The nuts are the best part! *g*

::hugs::
chrisjournal
Aug. 3rd, 2003 10:22 am (UTC)
*hugs back*

I'm a walnut. How about you?
ljs
Aug. 3rd, 2003 03:15 am (UTC)
It's wonderful to hear how you're doing what's nearly impossible -- making things happen (like job fair, like choosing to write) AND letting things flow until it's clear what you need to do. Thank you for sharing this, Chris, really.

[hugs]

By the way, the postcard piece is delicious. Fingers crossed for you! :-)))))
chrisjournal
Aug. 3rd, 2003 10:23 am (UTC)
*hugs back*

Thanks, again, Lori. And you know what's weird? I don't really need it to place or win or anything. The win for me is in just doing the task... Feedback from the judges would be a wonderful bonus that would help me along to the next task, of course!
nashvillain615
Aug. 3rd, 2003 11:57 am (UTC)
SQUEEEEE!!!!!!!!

I love it when those 'touched' things happen.

Got my fingers crossed, even though I'd love to see you relocate closer to my neck of the woods. But even so, I know that a better job fit to go with your career choice is more important.

The piece you wrote is lovely, of course, as always, and of course you'll submit it. It's far too beautiful and evocative to waste on anything other than a bid for publication.

And yes, I'm home.


Hugs and much love,

Kimi
Who read the *whoooooole* thing!
10zlaine
Aug. 3rd, 2003 12:38 pm (UTC)
I trust your gut; you'll be okay--because you trust it, as well.

And, I did read the piece, and I suck, but give me a chance? I have nothing to add that others didn't, but I want to talk about the wonderfulness that is your writing in that post. The wonderfulness that is you belongs here...and there is an inordinate amount of that.
chrisjournal
Aug. 3rd, 2003 04:33 pm (UTC)
Deadline is 4 weeks out, babe. Your critical thoughts are very welcome at any time...

And *hugs* for the rest...you know it means a lot.

Someday I'm going to have to explain to hubby exactly what kind of writing it is that I'm doing. Uh boy. He's going to laugh ;-)
taramisu
Aug. 5th, 2003 03:40 am (UTC)
I've also been dealing with a lot of personal soul-searching about what I want out of life,

Here. Let me clear that up for you. Great sex. Gooey chocolate. Spike. Great sex with gooey chocolate on Spike.
chrisjournal
Aug. 5th, 2003 02:07 pm (UTC)
Awwwww...you *remembered*!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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