Yes, I'm very pleased to report that The Awful Task is completed and I have accepted a position as 'marketing & communications specialist' with a global supply chain management/logistics company. It sounds like a diverse role, covering internal and external communications, and will allow me to leverage all the great skills I already have, while learning a whole lot of new ones.
I'm tentatively excited: it will be good to get some enforced structure back into my life, rev up my brain again, meet some new people and of course there's the small matter of dollars. Yet, for good and bad, it's the great unknown. I've met exactly three people in the company and haven't laid eyes on the everyday working environment. (Maybe my workstation will be the size of a pea and located outside the toilet. I have no idea.)
I've had such an awesome year. This coming Friday it will be exactly one year since I boarded a plane for Paris and commenced my 10-week trip through France, Spain, England and Germany. In the entire time since, I returned to work for exactly 3 weeks, a mere blip. To all intents and purposes, I've had an entire year without working. Never did I imagine this would be possible.
It's rather incredible -- and a little disconcerting -- how normal it feels to not work. I'm certainly not looking forward to having to compress all the things I've been doing into the spaces around this new job. I know that I've probably suffered from Parkinson's Law all year (work expands to fill the time available) but I am just so relaxed because of it. Going back to full-time work is going to completely shock my system.
This is what I'm going to miss:
This is the big one, obviously. One of my primary goals for this year was to focus on creative writing, from producing words to honing craft to engaging with the industry. I wanted to reconnect with myself as a writer of fiction, take myself more seriously. In finishing one novel, recognising its flaws, and embarking on another I feel that I'm on the way to achieving this. I might not have progressed the new novel as far as I'd have liked (the culprit being my usual tendency to rewrite), and I might still be a long way from publication, but I have moved forward and realigned my priorities. This has been an essential outcome.
But what's going to happen from here? Aside from the past couple of months when I was focusing on career stuff, I've been able to devote whole afternoons to creative writing on a regular basis. And it isn't just the time, it's the head-space. I know from experience that it's very hard to write at the end of the day after work. Most writers who work full-time utilise the early hours, and my experience of this has been positive. But it requires a LOT of discipline. This is something I'm going to have to figure out.
I've spent a lot of this year social networking online. My daily ritual has been to follow breakfast with about an hour (or two) of checking email and facebook and sometimes twitter and sometimes reading blogs and links. There's usually something of interest to click across to.
Yes, OK, I shudder when I tally up the hours I must have spent doing this. And these are the activities that I'm going to have to scale back if I'm to get any writing done once I'm back to work.
In addition to the morning ritual, I've also had the leisure to monitor facebook (and twitter) all day and respond to topics of conversation as they come up. For someone at home without anyone else to talk to, these 'chats' have been brilliant fun. I love feeling connected to all my friends via facebook. It really is a virtual conversation sometimes. Somehow I doubt I'll be able to keep this up in a new job. (Not a very good look.)
My blogging time will invariably suffer as well. I've been trying not to spend too much time blogging during the prime daytime hours, but sometimes I give in to the urge. But blogging is something I've been fitting in for years now -- I'll just have to make sure it doesn't take precedence over my other writing.
Meeting friends/family in cafes
This is kind of self-explanatory, really. I've had a wonderful time meeting up with friends who either don't work or who work flexible hours. Some weeks I've had lunch out every day. I've been telling myself that I might as well enjoy the benefits of not working while I can. (What I won't miss is my expanding waistline as a result of all this decadence.)
I've also been able to meet my sister and my two nephews for coffee on an almost weekly basis. We descend upon the cafe like a bomb going off and they have to disinfect the table after we've left it, but it's been so amazing to have this regular time with the two little kids and their baby-cinos.
Writing in pubs and cafes
For most of this year, we've had a regular writing session in the Elsternwick hotel, mostly on Tuesday afternoons. We drank wine. We talked shop. We wrote. We ate chicken parma for $12. (Another reason for the expanding waistline.) It has been brilliant.
Even on my own, I've spent quite a few afternoons in local cafes with my computer, sometimes because I wanted to get away from the Internet (and social networking etc), sometimes because I just needed to get out of the house. Despite the whole 'writing in cafes' thing being a bit of a cliche, I've loved every minute of it. And found it surprisingly productive as well. The cafe staff know me quite well by now. I wonder if they will miss me?
There are heaps of other things I'll miss as well, even if it's just the freedom to be spontaneous -- to dash down to the shopping centre with my mum, or attend a random writing seminar.
Probably what's missing from this list is the ability to get projects done -- and that's because I haven't done any. Not one. I'm a little disgusted with myself, really. I was supposed at the very least to get my bathroom renovation happening. A large reason for my failure in this area is due to my not having a car. It's very hard to get out and make stuff happen when you can't get around very easily. But c'est la vie.
I will look back at this year with perhaps a little regret (for the things I didn't get done while I had the time), but mostly with a great deal of satisfaction for the opportunity to chill out with friends and family and with myself. Most importantly, I've reconnected with myself as a writer. I stated at the beginning of the year that 2011 was about taking control of my life (I even dubbed it 'the year of the writer'), and I feel as though I've done this.