I feel like I just gave birth. I am disoriented and exhausted and a little bit sweaty, but I am on a crazy adrenaline high at the same time. I haven’t slept in days. I am excited and scared, confident and unsure.
But it is all for good reason… I had an actual writing deadline. Yep. Someone asked me to contribute to a local magazine and I just submitted my first article.
First, allow me point out a few things. From the time I was fourteen and I got my first paying gig at Mister Donut (yes, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. for the 5 o’clock shift and I chanted “It’s time to make the doughnuts” as I put on my uniform and rode my 3-speed to work in the dark) until May 18, 2001, (the day that Kid C was born and the same day that I retired from my last job as a law office manager), I had legitimate bosses who told me what to do, reviewed and oversaw my productivity, and held me generally accountable in exchange for a paycheck. Since that day more than ten years ago, I have been my own boss. And while that means I bring home no bacon, it also means that I can pretty much do whatever I want, whenever I want to do it.
Now I could go off on the tangent about stay-at-home moms and the work it takes to run a household and raise a family and the shopping and cooking and cleaning and laundry and child care and shuttling kids around and how much you would have to pay if you hired someone for each of those jobs. I read somewhere once that the figure was more than $500,000 a year when you calculate it like that. I mean no disrespect to my fellow stay-at-home moms, but that’s whacked. It’s definitely some fuzzy math and does not account for the fact that some days I could still be in my pajamas at 3:38 in the afternoon, but as long as I got the kids off the bus and I finally folded the load of whites that has been sitting in the dryer for days and I whipped up something that maybe resembles “dinner,” I did my work for the day. Now, I don’t do it like that every day. My point is that it is really nice to be able to slack off every once in a while and not have The Man looking over my shoulder all the time. And Sheepdog knows better than to complain when I occasionally phone it in.
So, back to the writing thing. I was asked to write something for a publication that goes out to wealthier neighborhoods in the Atlanta suburbs six times a year. They don’t have a budget to pay me, but they can give my blog a shout out. I was/ am extremely excited about it. After a few e-mails back and forth I learned that I had a week to put together my first article. It was a little fast, but I was convinced it would be no problem. Man, was I wrong.
I have been writing this blog since March and I enjoy it very much. In the beginning I forced myself to write every weekday because I had a compulsion to do so. When the family schedule revved up I chose to write less often, even though I always had ideas whirling around in my head. I had stories coming out of me that would almost write themselves. I didn’t always have the spare time to write, but if I didn’t post it was no big deal. This magazine thing is different. I have actual deadlines. For the blog I always had something to write about. For the article I could think of nothing. I must have started more than ten different stories and wasn’t happy with any of them.
Plus, I get an editor. Somebody who is telling me to write in complete sentences, use proper grammar and spell check. Someone who is not only going to read my writing, but review it and then critique it. A “boss,” if you will. No, I’m not handling it well at all.
What if I am no good at it? What if I can’t find my voice? What if people don’t like me or my writing? Sheepdog keeps laughing at me. He says it is good for me as a writer to have feedback (so true) and good for me as a person to be held accountable (also true). He reminded me that it would take time to make the adjustments but I would probably figure it all out and have conquered my fears and uncertainty by the third article, maybe sooner.
On the day of the deadline I sat down at my computer and I cleared my head (as much as I can clear my head when all of the kids are home from school for a teacher workday) and opened my blog software program. And the funny thing was that I just started to type, and it felt good.
Now I am still waiting for the editor to get back to me with notes and I’m sure I’ll struggle with getting back on the horse of accepting constructive criticism, but I look forward to learning and growing and listening to what my new boss has to say about my work.
But I’ll tell you right now – Sheepdog and the kids had better not complain about what I’m serving for dinner tonight. I don’t get paid enough for that.
Wish me luck for tomorrow…