Wednesday, December 01, 2004

A Kick in the Pants

This week Dr. Phil has dealt with a couple of topics that hit home with me -- one concerning the "black sheep" of the family and the other being "Real Talent? Or Get Real!"

I see a connection between the two, a junction where, it seems, I may have set up a lounge chair and planted myself the past couple of years. I think it's a pretty good thing I had the chance to see these two shows this week.

I don't really consider myself the black sheep of the family. I have a cousin, just a little older than me, who has clinched the title fair and square. Said cousin has been the sacrificial lamb for all the family's dysfunction, a role she's embraced with great gusto. In the previous generation, it was an uncle, and before him, a great uncle.

The problem with a shrinking family is that there's only a couple of kids in the following generation (one clearly will be the black sheep of that generation). And so far, there's only one newborn baby in the generation after that (hard to say this: it would be the generation of my grandchildren, if I had any!)

Though the "black sheep" title seems to have been assigned, I have kind of stepped out of my expected role, probably causing plenty of eye-rolling and tongue-wagging behind my back.

You see, I had the audacity to leave my straight-and-narrow road. I quit a very good job, not to take another one, but "to pursue other interests."

My plan -- my dream -- was to write a book and do volunteer work that I could not do while working. But like so many people who plan to write The Great American Novel, I scared myself, very badly.

I started out, convinced that this was just a new job I was taking on. I would create my own structure, set my own schedule and go about the work of writing like any business.

Um, yeah...

You see, I was well prepared and equipped to do my former, regular job. I knew what to do and how to do it. I'd had years of training and education and decades of experience. I could claim my expertise, rightly.

Even though it was a semi-related field (writing and editing), it was completely different from the discipline of writing a book. Arrogance and ego ran smack into inexperience and ignorance. Ouch.

This is hard to confess, friends. I have written a lot during this period. But it's been a mish-mash. I've done regular freelancing on a weekly basis (sorry, I would be exposing other people's work personae if I explained what I do more specifically). It's hard and interesting work, but at least it doesn't pay well.

Other than that, I've written personal essays which could be chapters for a book. But there is no structure. I've done it willy-nilly rather than with a plan. I might be able to salvage big chunks and put them together, but I need to start again and do it right.

So here comes the part from the second show, about real talent or get real...

Dr. Phil had invited several people who had big dreams to be actors, singers or some other "star". They were all certain they could succeed in the dream job if they could only get the chance to prove it.

Nevermind that they hadn't trained for the work, or seriously explored what it takes to succeed. They were just "sure" that their native talent would overcome any and all obstacles, if only their loved ones would pay attention for a minute and SEE how great they are.

Well, it was embarrassing for them to get truthful criticism and evaluation on the show. They were hurt, angry, humiliated.

So the realization hits me that I needed that kick in the pants. I've been fooling myself (almost). And that's about all.

I've had to come to terms with the fact that I've been squandering my time, which is a sin, I believe. You see, in 1990 I nearly died and had to have an emergency surgery. It was a very bad time for me. Yep, I had a near-death experience, complete with seeing the light and hearing God's voice. Thanks be to Him that what he said was "Not yet." I was sent back to this world with the message "Redeem Your Time."

I woke up this morning with that message repeating in my mind. And so today I started over, started anew to accept the gifts that I've been given. It means getting serious -- either get this book written or get my tail back to work in some productive manner. Start earning my keep again, so to speak. Stop squandering my time.

I'm working on sharpening my ax, so to speak. I spent a chunk of time at the library seeking inspiration and information. I'm refocusing my attention and intentions to do this.

And now, I've exposed this secret to you guys. Wish me luck and determination, OK? Thanks.


TECH said...

You can do it! Write that book. Make your own luck. I have faith in talent and hard work. You have talent and -- I suspect -- a great gift for hard work. Now go to it. There is no time like now.

jeannie diane said...

You go girl, I can't wait to see
what you have inside. I will be
praying for you. You have it now
use it..

FrenziedFeline said...

To quote one of the leaders from my church, "You're better than you think you are." This was in response to being too hard on yourself. I think we all assign ourselves the lesser adjectives. I don't know why, but maybe it's just human nature.

You'll be in my prayers to make the right choices for yourself. Perhaps the answer isn't strictly black or white, but a lovely shade of gray in the middle you can manage. :)

Teditor said...

Having known the level of frustration and burnout you were experiencing at the last job, maybe the best thing that could've happened to you was to take a two-year hiatus from a deadline, daily or whatever. Sure you've done your freelance assignments, with I suspect a great deal of enthusiasm. But that's much different than the daily grind you experienced at said job.

Nevermind the fact that for a longtime employee, they crapped in your Wheaties pretty good at the end.

Truth is, you have the talent and work ethic to be successful at whatever you wish to do. Sometimes, though, I suspect we need a redirection in life to realize what we really want.

My theory is you were brave enough to get out of a tough situation. You weren't happy, and you needed to find a way to make yourself happy. By reading your work on this blog, I can tell you're considerably happier than you were.

As my mom used to always say, "Do whatever it takes to be happy." You deserve it, Trixie.

Erudite Redneck said...

What Teditor saiditor. Too popped to write much. I'll do better! I promise!