Get Your Head Right

I am a very social person. I get energy from interactions with people. I like to work in collaborative settings. Nonetheless, I find myself self-employed and working from home. I’ve done the things one does to mitigate the isolation of this kind of work. I belong to groups of people like me who meet regularly to share experiences. I do group exercise every day. I lunch with friends who have regular jobs.

Every once in a while it doesn’t feel like enough. A long time ago I had a job writing for a daily newspaper. I faced daily and weekly deadlines and I sat regularly with editors. We brainstormed and planned. Editors did trouble-shooting, pointed out my mistakes, and praised my good stuff. It felt great when together we managed to produce something good for the next day’s paper or for a big project.

There are days when the work I do is full of people: conferences, school visits, artist residencies. By hook and crook, I’ve managed face-to-face meetings with my editor for each of my two books. In the thick of the publishing season, emails fly back and forth and, when necessary, we talk by phone.

Right this minute, however, I am in an in-between place. I am working on a lot of things, but I don’t have a project under contract. I worked from home the entire month of January. I have lots of words to show for it, but many were logged in writing grant applications and lesson plans. Necessary, but not as gratifying as writing a picture book or a memoir chapter.

I’ve reached out to some folks with my malaise and they’ve been understanding. But, a voice in my head is saying that what I need isn’t going to come from anyone else. I am reminded of what a particular coach used to say when I struggled in the final laps of a mile or two-mile race. “Get your head right.” He told me I wasn’t being beaten by better athletes (though often I was running against better athletes), I was beating myself. I needed to reach deeper, face the challenge, and give my best.

So, tomorrow I’ll get back in the chair and put my fingers on the keys. I’ll write my way out of this. I will.

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