Back in March, I was stuck. I wanted to write, or so I told myself and anyone else who would listen, but I routinely bypassed my writing desk. I wanted to lose weight, and yet, I sat in front of the television with a bowl of ice cream nearly every night. Stuck in a job and feeling powerless, I watched my self-esteem shrink as my clothes grew.
And then I lost my job.
This is the part where you’re thinking that the bowls of ice cream get bigger, right? Surprisingly, no. Awash in a sea of confusion with what to do with so much free time, I realized that, when my job went, so did all of my excuses. I could write or I could talk about writing. I could lose weight or I could eat ice cream and wonder why I was over weight. Rather than feeling stuck and overwhelmed in my job, I was now overwhelmed with more than a little fear. Fear that my writing wouldn’t be good enough or that, no matter how hard I tried, I would fail to lose weight or get published.
Like many people stuck in a wrong career choice, I made the best of it, but once the job was gone, the noose around my neck squeezing the creativity and the hope out of me loosened. Over the years, I have survived several bouts of unemployment, and I knew (prayed) this was temporary. The luxury of what, for the moment, seemed like an infinite degree of free time, the opportunity to dive head first into my writing projects, might never come again. True to the neurotic writer stereotype, I tangoed with a fair amount of guilt for being…well…happy that I had some time to write. While being unemployed wasn’t necessarily new for me, something about this period of unemployment seemed different. Like a lost opportunity regained. A lost love rediscovered. If I wanted to write, really write, it seemed like it was now or never.
So, I made the most of it. I got up at 6:00 a.m. each morning, readied myself for the day, kissed my husband as if it were any other work day and walked down the hall to my writing desk. I worked from 7:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., learning my way around social media sites, setting up a website, blogging, researching and writing.
Losing weight was a little easier and more straight forward than writing. I downloaded an app to my phone called Lose-It and tracked my calories and exercise. I started going to the gym two to three times per week. If you’ve read my other blogs, you know that I’m a fan of spinning. Dragging myself out of bed to get to spinning classes was a challenge.
But it was all worth it. In ten weeks, I lost 20 pounds.
In eight short weeks, I wrote and published two ebooks, Why Can’t Dad Swallow, a guide for caregivers of the elderly and Dangerous Women (free), a book of poetry. My novel, Dreamwalker is about 30% completed. Prior to this, I hadn’t written or published anything since I published Call Me, an erotica romance, in 2010.
During this time, employers started knocking on my door again. I’ve worked more at my “real job” in the last seven weeks than I did before I lost my job. I won’t lie. Once I started working at my day job again, I gained a pound and had to backtrack to lose it. My writing took a hit, too. Work sucks my creative energy, but I don’t have to let that noose tighten around my neck again.
As much as I’d like to believe I can do it all, thinking along those lines leads to a vat of Breyer’s Lactose Free Vanilla ice cream swimming in a sea of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Syrup, topped with crushed almonds, smothered in whipped cream and Six Feet Under marathons. But that’s not what I’m hungry for these days. Give me a fresh blog post, a quirky character trait for my protagonist or a few hundred new words each day on my project and I’m in my element.
I can’t do it all. But trading 20 pounds for 50,000 words is a pretty sweet start.
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