"So, how is your life of leisure going?" -- recent comment left by a friend on Facebook.
Myth #1: That working from home is, in fact, a life of leisure.
Reality: Nope, not really.
So it seems that now that I'm an official "writer" I have rescinded myself to aimlessly toodling about the house a la Nathan Lane's character in The Birdcage ("When the schnecken beckons!"), writing every now and then as if it were a chore like vacuuming. Or that's what I gather from numerous comments I've heard from friends recently, like the one above. I just need to vent, but I don't like how people assume that just because I'm not going to an office every day I've somehow lapsed into an "early retirement". Yes, that was another comment. Lucky me, right? (I don't have kids, but I can't imagine how stay-at-home moms must feel when they hear these sort of comments and have the uber-hard, full-time job of raising little ones.)
I don't know how to explain this without sounding defensive (especially when it's said over the phone), but my time spent working in the last week or two has been some of the hardest work I've ever done. And it will be during the next months and years. I hold myself to a high standard (I think most do, right?) and like to feel like I'm producing something. It gives my life meaning. Waking up everyday, brewing a fresh pot of coffee and sitting down to write with Lola at my feet is incredible. It makes me happy to get out of bed. Sure the muse can't strike daily, but even on days when I don't feel like writing, I've forced myself to because it's my job. "Not going" to my job is not an option -- that would be failing. Luckily, too, I can work during whatever hours I feel like. Sometimes it works best for me to write in the middle of the night, long after everyone's gone to bed, so I'm happy that it's flexible.
It's mentally taxing and exhausting, yet stimulating and fulfilling all the same. There are no employee reviews or periodic paychecks. Nothing to tell me I'm doing a good job or advancing along nicely. That comes when I start sending out query letters to literary agents, which comes after I finish and edit my manuscript, which is all still a few months away.
For right now, all I have to go on in terms of a pat on the back to myself is how much I produce each day. The pressure is on, but it's a pressure I relish in! Now I know what people mean when they say they've "put in a good day at work." As opposed to before, I now actually care about my finished product and genuinely appreciate the process. It's my creativity, after all, personified on paper. What can be more gratifying than seeing that daily?
But wait, that's not possible for me to do because I've done so at home. Silly me ... ;)
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