Monday 5th June 2017
You know that meme where someone is returning back to work after holiday wondering “how they got on without me?” They open the door to the office to see a post-apocalyptic wasteland, people running around on fire, others pulling their hair out screaming, you get the picture. This was my day today.
I had a chat with my boss to find out the situation of things since I’ve been away from the job, and it sounds a bit like that.
I don’t know why, but the day job stresses me out. It’s not the actual work. Left to my own devices, I’ll get the job done and usually do it pretty well. I do my best work when I’m just left to get on with it.
But like all day jobs… mine is not like that. I find myself constantly having to fight people who, at the most generalised level, think they know how to get the best out of me. They don’t.
Now I get that in any big organisation, it’s about the macro, and I’m focused on the micro, but I guess a lot of my frustration comes from the fact that I’ve put my career on hold these past 10 or so years.
If I put my mind to it, I could have worked my way to a very senior position in a company. I have good business acumen (except for sales… I totally suck at sales) and when it comes to office politics, I can be downright Machiavellian if someone pisses me off. But I came to the decision many years ago, that I, firstly, didn’t want a heart attack by the time I was 40, and secondly, that I didn’t much care for the person that would have made me.
And yet, there’s part of me when I see senior people make idiotic decisions that wishes I had the power to step in and sort it out.
That’s what I think the problem is… there’s a part of me that’s a control freak. I can often visualise a problem and see the solution. And to be fair, when I’ve been allowed to just run with it and do things my way, I deliver. Only today I was told how a task I was working on for another department (where I literally told them that what they asked for wasn’t what they wanted) was so warmly received.
It’s one of the reasons I love writing. As a kid I either wanted to be a writer or a film director. I liked the idea of creating, and believe it or not, I liked that those two vocations were not as fame-driven as, say, an actor. I liked that you could be a writer or director and walk down the street anonymous. I liked (and still like) the fact that the work matters more than the personality.
What lead me to writing was the fact that as a film director you’re subject to other people. It’s too big a job to do by yourself and so you have to compromise, and I didn’t like that.
Don’t get me wrong: as a writer, you work with agents and editors, and I truly love that. But they are trying to help you take your vision and help it excel. There’s not resistance there, just a gentle push to help you on your way.
Which is why the fires at the day job have me slightly worried. Getting bogged down in that crap saps my mental energy. It’s part of what slowed down the last edit.
I want to get this edit done fast, but not at the expense of quality. Basically, I need to get it done before my post-holiday chill wears off and the day job turns me into a stress monkey by someone coming along and trying to be “helpful” and get involved with a project I’m working on, or even the way I work.
I’ve told myself that I’m not going to let the day job stress me. Just listening to my boss today, I could hear the stress in his voice. He claims he’s fine (“I was worse a couple of weeks ago”) but it genuinely shocked me. It’s that stress that results in people having heart attacks at 40. I know why it happens, but it’s so wrong.
I can be just as guilty. As much as I want to be an average employee and have the mental energy to focus on the novels, there’s a large part of me that wants to excel at what I do and deliver above and beyond. I mean, it’s good to over-index, but at what cost?
So I’m aware that the next couple of weeks could be extremely challenging. There’s a lot of day job stuff that needs doing, but the edits HAVE to come first. And of course, being me, I’ll try and do everything and get stressed (and not the fun type of stress like trying to vlog every day of Chasepalooza).
Of course, it would be helped if jetlag hadn’t made me oversleep this morning. I woke feeling very sleepy and couldn’t hear the kids walking past the house going to school, which is normally a sign it’s around 8am and time to get up. So I thought it was 5am or 6am.
I got up for a piss and just happened to look out the window. Neighbours cars had left for work, but it was the guy walking past the front of my house carrying a paper and a pint of milk that made me more concerned. I went and got my phone only to find that it was gone 10am. Damn!
Of course, that puts me out for the rest of the day. Time I finished the day job there wasn’t time to do edits before needing to cook so I could leave for swordfighting this evening.
Whatever fencing skill I had yesterday, has seemed to evaporate, as I fought a decent friend this evening, using the techniques that were working for me yesterday, only to then find that they totally didn’t work against him.
And with Astolat just over a month away, that’s another thing I need to work towards.
Yes, I think June is going to be a month of grinding away at a number of things, or rather, trying to keep everything balanced so everything gets done.
The grind starts here!
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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