It’s funny how time passes you by. I’ve been a big proponent of using time to help me get my writing done, but time has worked against me for the last nine months. I haven’t posted to this blog since October 2019 – but have still been writing. I just stopped preparing posts for publication because stress had taken over my life.
That’s Never Happened Before
First of all, I got fired at the end of October 2019. That was a culmination, though. The stress built for several months. I had three different bosses within 4 months, and being a VP of sales, I was tasked with getting results. I was never warned, written up, or had any formal indication that I was going to be fired. Although hindsight being what it is, I can see it all clearly now. But I’d never been fired before. I’m 51 years old, and I can admit now that it rattled me psychologically more than I thought it would. I was given two month’s severance, so I had some cushion, and within four hours I had a verbal job offer. By the following Friday, I had five total offers. I started a new job before I was even officially out of the old one.
But my posting had started slipping earlier, during the summer of 2019. I went from 7 or 8 posts per month to 2 in June 2019, when one of my bosses either quit or was fired. I’m going to go with fired. With him gone, all the focus and pressure was on me, and it wasn’t the good kind of pressure. It was the kind that questioned every single move I made, and offered suggestions as to how I should be doing my job. Even though I’ve been successfully doing the job for decades.
I Abandon Creative Endeavors
What I noticed as my work stress increased is that I started to feel like I should spend the effort I was expending on writing on my “real job.” I felt guilty because I was being beat up over performance at work. Initially, I only stopped posting as much because preparing posts takes as much, if not more time, than writing. My goal was always to keep writing, so I kept writing every day, I just didn’t post as much. By September, the pressure was affecting my sleep as well. I posted only once, but still continued to write. October came, and I knew I was in trouble, even though I had delivered the best quarter the company ever had. Nothing would be “good enough.” I had already started putting out feelers for a new job. I figured (wrongly) I had until the end of the year (2019).
I was notified at 11 AM on Friday, and by 6 pm that night, I had a tentative offer to fly up to meet with my new boss that Sunday. He’d even offered for me to stay at his house – He’s someone I’ve known for 20 years. Long story short, I took the job, and it has been all the better. I can say it now, I hated working at that company. I really loved working with my team – the team I built, but I hated the company. The product is mediocre and the leadership was horrible.
I Am Damaged Goods
But, as I moved into the new role, something happened to me. I couldn’t write about anything but work. I had a nagging feeling that I could have prevented the firing, if I’d just done better. I had to figure out why I had been fired. Was it personal? Could I have avoided it? My confidence was shattered. If I go back and look at my writing from the two months – November and December 2019, I see sporadic entries for the first time in two years. The things I did write were distracted, not good, not deep, Maslow and his stupid triangle had kicked me square in the doodads. I felt like I was losing my grip. I didn’t even like working there!
I slowly got better. I hired an executive coach (at $1000 a visit) to basically tell me that I’m a good employee. And you know what? It was money well spent. It helped me get back my confidence.
Now, the new job is at a smaller company, and one that has been around for 35 years. I’ve been brought in to be some kind of savior, so while the stress is less, the pressure to perform is probably greater – at least the pressure I’m putting on myself. But things were slowly getting back under control. My writing increased, and I’d been working on a story – just scenes, and I have no way of knowing if it will ever see the light of day, but the creativity was back. It took months for me to stop writing only about work.
And Then THIS Happens
Then came the middle of March and the pandemic. I’ve worked remotely for 20 years. I moved to the country, rural Texas, 20 years ago. It’s like I’ve been training for this shit. I moved from Southern California to get away from people. I chose an area that is remote, rural, isolated. I’m 10 miles from a real store. My closest neighbor is 700 feet away (don’t ask why I know that).
The pandemic helped me get my writing groove back. I got back into the routine. The new job had me driving six hours north twice a month – the company is based in Oklahoma, and I’m still in Texas. If things go really well, I’ll buy a place in Oklahoma somewhere. But for now, I’m staying isolated. But when I started looking at the distribution of COVID-19 cases, and populations of states, etc., it did not go unnoticed that Oklahoma has a lot less people in it than Texas. Rural Oklahoma is much more isolated than rural Texas.
Thank You – Yes, You.
Then last week, I get an email from my blog – someone has reached out and asked me if I’m still writing, blogging. They say, they read “I Love Mechanical Things,” ask if I’m still blogging and, “I hope so, I like your writing. Hope you come back.”
And I realized, I miss it. I miss the focus and the creative aspects of taking something I’ve written and editing it until I feel like it deserves to see the day of light. Unlike this piece, which is being rushed through so I can get this blog started back up.
I can’t say I’ll be able to go back to posting 7-8 times per month. I had goals that were volume-based back then. Now, I just want to post once per week, to be honest. I want to focus on actually providing some value to you all (or y’all as we say in Texas).
So there, that’s why I ran away, and now I’m going to try to be back. The pandemic has changed me a bit – I’ll explain in my next post. I had to alter my reading habit. It’s strange how things affect you even when you try not to let them, just like losing a job.
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