Hold tight and pretend it’s a plan

kayaker balancing in whitewaterIt’s been awhile since I blogged here; now that I think about it, since around the time I first discovered the “NuWho” Doctor Who reboot on Netflix. Thankfully, however, correlation does not imply causation, and Doctor Who was really part of a larger rebalancing, the start of a process of examining and processing and deciding.

Things I learned:

No matter how much you love something, it is possible to overdo it.

No, I am NOT talking about binge watching entire Who seasons on Netflix in a single day. Well, mostly not. Although it is hard to walk away from.

The fact is, I burned out on writing. I lost the soul of it because I let my ego get too wrapped up in topics and forms that other people at work weren’t as invested in. What I did do was get reinspired by watching incredibly well made TV shows and discovering new fiction.

I’m better now at recognizing when I’m doing too much of other people’s stuff, a signal that I need to pause and do something for myself. (I also don’t swim competitively for that same reason.)

Sometimes taking a break isn’t enough. Sometimes you have to quit altogether.

I learned this in 2006, also after a period of burnout, when I quit my part-time freelance job, also because I lost the soul of writing in too many PR pieces and not enough stories. I wrote fiction and raised my sons, but it wasn’t until a story I loved found me that I went back to trade journalism.

At that point, though, I quit fiction. I didn’t believe I had anything to say that stood out enough from the crowd. It took another five years, a depression, heartbreak, the abovementioned burnout, and various other tribulations for new stories to find me. I’m told it’s my best work yet; stay tuned.

In any case, quitting, I’ve found, is as much about things and activities as it is about people. It’s letting go, setting free… and if “it” — passion, stories, friendship — comes back to you, you aren’t yet through learning from it. Don’t sit around waiting, either; find other things to do with life:

quote about downtime by Anna Quindlen

You’re not an impostor if you’re doing your own thing

Not feeling I had much to say also figured into my hiatus from this blog. Rampant impostor syndrome had convinced me I wasn’t enough of a marketing expert to join the throng of voices from other, more experienced communications experts.

That still left #forensicfemmes, but with no forensication experience of my own, who was I to publish anything that real forensicators would find of value? As a person who places high value on informed opinion, to weigh in, for example, on IBM’s “Hack a Hair Dryer” would have nothing on Lesley Carhart’s excellent blog on the topic.

It would take another few months, a decision to drop my other blog, Cops 2.0, and use this space to focus on my personal-professional life, to work out how it all comes together. While there won’t be anything close to a regular blogging schedule with a solid editorial calendar, my intent for this space is:

  • Fiction talk. That includes stories I write and/or publish, authors and books I love, things I learn about the industry.
  • #ForensicFemmes. I see an intersection with finding and doing work that is personally fulfilling, that feels like contributing time and expertise to a valuable mission.
  • Personal lessons learned about career, marketing, life, etc. Expect lots of references to geek culture. And raccoons, the “hackers of the animal kingdom” I’ve learned to love through volunteering at a wildlife sanctuary.

As the 11th Doctor noted:

hold-tight

photo credit: Level Six 2009_0237 via photopin (license)

2 thoughts on “Hold tight and pretend it’s a plan

  1. I completely agree with your thoughts on downtime, too. I tried for years to keep up with various creative interests whilst working in a full-time role for someone else’s company, but I just couldn’t do it. Even if I had evenings and weekends off, it didn’t feel like proper “downtime” because my mind was always half-turned towards my inbox. It’s only been in the past three years or so, when I’ve been working for myself and have become stricter with myself about taking time out, that I’ve been able to pick up pursuits I’d been desperately missing.

    I look forward to more posts! The raccoons series sounds particularly intruiging 😉

  2. Thanks Scar! I was the opposite when self-employed, but I was supporting a young family, and I was too scared not to work. I think this contributed to working nights, weekends, and vacations even when I went back to full-time employment. I am fortunate now to be in a place that respects downtime. It really does make a massive difference in both productivity and effectiveness.

    Raccoons are hilarious. The first thing they do, when you put them into or outside of a new environment, is start sniffing for vulnerabilities. They seek out the air flow and then see if they can fit a body part through (game over if they can get their whole head through). I could watch them explore and solve problems all day. 🙂

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