I have been working really hard, at home and at work, to knock down my many, many "to-do" lists. I live by my lists, and they keep me focused. This week, I actually hit 100% of the stuff I meant to accomplish, but I don't feel any better about it than I did last week when I did even make a list.
Partly it's this: I got my review last week. My boss thinks I walk on water. He's foursquare in my corner and wants to see me kicking more of the ass that I kick for him on a regular basis. He's made goals for me this year that are...ambitious. I worry because I have goals for myself that are probably equally ambitious, but I can't reach them if I'm spending all my time at work. But I'm incapable of just saying "fuck it," and letting my boss down. I have the sort of sense of duty that one looks for in a lapdog. Pathetic, I know. But I take pride in the fact that my boss never thinks twice about entrusting me with very large, very complex projects that must be carried out with no sort of oversight.
That my boss loves me is all well and good, but it also makes me feel as though every day, I make the choice between bolstering my writing career (such as it is) and doing this thing I do for money. The more I search myself, the more I realize that the satisfaction that comes of doing an excellent job for someone else isn't enough. It feels sort of analagous to when Peaches was a baby, and I would call her caregiver two and three times a day to find out how she was doing. I finally had to quit my job because I coudln't concentrate. I had to be with my little girl. I am feeling that way about my writing. I want to be with it more than with my work.
Which brings me to the next thing, which is that I find it nigh-well impossible to find a suitable place to do my work. I can't carry it out at work. I have too much to do there to do much of anything else. I can't do it at home, because again, that dratted sense of duty won't let me concentrate. How can I selfishly sit on my ass writing and editing when there are dishes to be done or laundry to be folded? So I go out, but the problem there is that I am incapable of telling anyone to leave me alone. I went to OVC tonight and saw a few of the gang there and started to make really good progress on a piece that I think is just about ready for submission, but got sidetracked by an unwelcome conversation. And not just once. I made a few comments that this other person found provocative, and at least twice, this person felt moved to get my attention (taking it away from what I was doing) to distract me with a conversation that had nothing to do with what I was there for. I hate to be rude. I really do. I am incapable of saying "leave me alone right now," even when it's what I most fondly wish. The irony is that part of this conversation had to do with Americans' concept of proper manners.
Now, this brings me to the very last bitter dreg of my sour draught. The person who was so interested in what I had to say was also a person to whom I had given a draft of part of my novel many months ago, with the understanding that he would read it and give me feedback. I have never received said feedback. I gave it to at least three people, and never heard anything from any of them. I have now edited two novels, two novellas and half a dozen short stories for this group, and have gotten back exactly one critique of one short story, given by a person who, by his own admission, didn't have time to read it properly because he was in the middle of moving.
Those people who have heard my work read out loud have been unanimous in their praise, but that does me no good at all when what I'm looking for is the little nits that will make it perfect. I am frustrated that I have made time for them, but they have not seen fit to return the favor. At this point in time, I have exactly one dear friend who is enough of a writer that I trust his judgement and enough of a friend that he's not afraid to tell me when I'm phoning it in. He's a writer as well, and I edit his stuff and we sit down together and hammer things out. It's the most valuable interaction I've ever had with another writer. I'd love to find one more, but I don't even begin to know where to look.
I feel like I need more. From my work life, from my writing, from those people who call themselves my friends.
Okay. You can come out now. I'm done bitching.