Wednesday 14th June 2017
This is the story of two different stresses that happened today.
The first is stress about the novel. As you have seen over the last few days there’s a ton of work to do and things I’m not sure about. It’s possible it’s just me worrying about nothing, but I’ve been that concerned about the start of this novel and the various changes it’s introduced, I sent an email to my agent today with the hero’s plan mapped out in order that she could spot any massive plot holes. I have a genuine concern that the little changes I’ve introduced may have huge ramifications down the road and I think it’s fair to say that I’m stressing about it.
The second stress is the day job. We’ve not yet reached peak stress, but there was a ton of work today none of which I seemed to be able to make progress with because other people / departments have cut corners / not considered all the outcomes.
I likened it very much to the tower fire that has dominated the news today. Whilst it’s too early to say whether it had a direct consequence or not, it certainly looks like corners were cut.
At heart, I think I’m a bit of a capitalist. I like money and I’m not opposed to people being rich. It always annoys me when people complain about how greedy footballers are, because let’s face it, if they weren’t worth that money, clubs would not pay the exorbitant wages. And these people who say if they were in those footballers shoes they’d refuse the money, are living in cloud cuckcoo land.
But I don’t like it when a price gets put on someone’s life. I don’t like it when corners get cut and the fallout will be that people get injured or die.
And I can already see the likely outcome of the investigation of this fire. Staff will have been forced to cut corners in order to meet some target or profit margin. No doubt some will have registered their dissatisfaction, but others will just do what they’re told knowing it’s not worth the stress complaining will cause. Because someone somewhere will have decided that it’s unlikely anything could go wrong, and those on the frontline will be so overloaded with work they won’t have the time to complain.
I see this all the time with companies (and not just my day job). They push cost savings, loading staff with more work and telling them to be more efficient. Is it any wonder that we’re seeing an increase in mental health issues? Even in my day job (which all things considered isn’t the worst employer out there) I heard tale today of some plans to cut corners.
Because profits have to be driven above all else.
And so I’ve spent the day being under the hammer knowing that someone in the next week is probably going to suggest that we need to do more with less and work more efficiently. I will probably lose my shit in a professional capacity. Some of us are efficient already.
In many ways, I am the worst employee. I believe that the way you drive profits is by delivering quality, rather than cutting corners so you only just retain the customer. But business is all about short term gain and kicking long term repercussions down the field.
Worst of all, I’m not particularly pissed at the day job at the moment. I just can see what’s going to happen.
But the insanely busy day was also very stressful as I tried to get everything done so that I don’t have to have conversations that annoy me further down the road.
And yet, these two stresses I felt today were vastly different.
The work stress I could feel bringing me down. It’s not the worst work stress I’ve felt by any means and yet, I noticed how miserable it left me feeling today.
Compare that to the other stress: the one about the beginning of the book. In terms of how big an issue it is, it completely dwarfs the work issues. I have to find a solution to this that doesn’t break the entire novel but also ticks all the boxes. This will be the bit that people read in the bookstore, so of course it’s important to get it right.
It could literally make huge changes to my future if I get this right.
So whilst the novel stress is like Everest to the day stress’s small hill, I found myself smiling about the novel work.
I love that I’m diving in and fixing it. I love that I’m exchanging emails with my agent, chatting creativity and coming up with ideas to strengthen the work I’ve done. I love that the importance isn’t cutting corners to get it done, but to produce something of quality.
These two stresses couldn’t be more different in how they make me feel. As if it wasn’t already obvious what my calling is. I just need to make enough from it to pay the mortgage.
Another big thing happened today that was a bit of a first. I was in a situation where work I needed to do for the novel clashed with a call out from the day job. I had to get an email back to my agent this morning and so, whilst I worked on the problem and took it as far as I could, in the end I had to say sorry and prioritise the email.
Looking back, I’m glad I did.
I’m not a bad employee by any means, but I don’t buy into a lot of management speak. I want to ask questions and poke holes, and highlight that this is nothing more than a way to cut corners.
Quality is hard, and yes it’s subjective (especially in creative fields) but I have my own standards and no amount of cost cutting or pressure to “do more with less” is going to convince me to change them. More importantly I think it’s the right thing to do.
And so, I won’t be saying “screw it, the opening chapter will do” if I’m not happy with it. I’ll continue to put an extraordinary amount of work into it, not looking for perfection but something that matches my personal standards.
It’ll be hard and stressful… and I’ll love every minute of it.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels. Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.
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