Who the Hell Has Time to Write These Days?

To say it’s a busy and frantic time at Out Where the Buses Don’t Run doesn’t even begin to describe just how…busy and frantic things are. So where should I start?

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we put our home on the market. It was a frustrating process for us, working with an agent who, while is a nice person, doesn’t really act with the kind of urgency or loyalty one really should look for when working with a selling agent. In the month or so since we had our house listed, we had a grand total of five (yes, five) showings. Frankly, we expected more. Our house is very reasonably priced, and with the low property taxes, we figured this house would attract plenty of interested home buyers. We had the house built in 2007, and since we’ve lived in it, we’ve made some custom additions and modifications, such as new paint throughout the house, custom hardwoods in the first floor and master bedroom, new light fixtures, just to name a few. Yet, only five showings. So what gives? Our selling agent’s lack of urgency was a massive source of frustration and agitation for us.

The good thing was our house “showed” very well. In all five showings, we received excellent feedback. The buyer’s agents all informed us the house was priced exactly right (as the market would bear, nor would they have recommended we lower the price), and the home improvements were a definite plus. But when it comes to buying a home, buyers are like Goldilocks: “This house is too big…this house is too small…this house is just right!” When you see the right house, you just know it.

Someone will think this is the right house.

Last week, out of the blue, we got an offer. My wife and I were surprised. When we saw the offer, we were offended. The buyer wanted to take $27,000 off our asking price, AND he was asking for our breakfast nook table set. It’s a granite top table with two bench chairs and two seats. What the hell, if he wants it, fine, but he needs to make a better offer. Also, he wanted the closing to take place the third week of September. That simply wouldn’t work, as my wife would be out of town on business that entire week. We rejected his offer, purely on principle, and made a counter: $219,500, not a penny less, breakfast nook table included, and closing takes place the week of October 14th.

Our selling agent remarked the buyer was a reverend who was relocating with his fiance from upstate South Carolina. I immediately thought of those irritating “What Whould Jesus Do?” slogans that Southern Baptists love to quote so much around here. I thought, “Jesus wouldn’t make such a fucking insulting offer.”

(I didn’t say this out loud; our selling agent is a very nice, church-going lady who probably would have died of sheer shock had she heard me say that. Also, I’m not really knocking WWJD. I know plenty of people who have embraced this as a personal motto and truly mean it, so no real judgment from me here. We good?)

Twenty-four hours later, our selling agent calls us back. The Reverend agreed to our counteroffer, and to the closing date, no questions asked.

My first thought was, “What the fuck? Not even a heated negotiation? He must REALLY love this house!”

My second thought was, “Oh, shit, now we have to move.”

You see, our plan is to build our new home, and it’s a fancy-dancy, slightly bigger, but not so ridiculously expensive new home in a quieter and smaller subdivision. And because this is a custom home builder, and not one of those rack-and-stack home builders that seem to pop up just about everywhere, building new homes in the span of about three weeks, it’s going to take, from the signing of the contract, to the visit with the builder’s home center consultant so we can choose our custom options (i.e., wall paint colors, granite counter style, appliance models, etc.), to the framing and actual building of the home, and, finally, when we close and make the actual purchase and take ownership, this entire process will take approximately nine months.

So from October to June of next year, my wife and daughter, plus a dog and a cat, will be living in a two-bedroom apartment, with the rest of our stuff in storage in the meantime. we’ve found an apartment community we like, and we’re excited. And scared to death.

No wonder I told my psychiatrist I needed something to quell my anxiety. More on that in a bit.
Additionally, things have taken an interesting and pleasantly unexpected turn on the employment front.

My manager reached out to me a few weeks back and casually mentioned that one of his peers is looking to put together a team to spearhead a company-wide initiative, and he thought I would be a good fit. Actually, he was trying to pawn me off on that group: it seems that my funding as a contract employee was about to get cut, but he didn’t want to see me go, so he worked out an arrangement with another business unit. I would be doing exactly what I’m doing right now, as a business data analyst on the Information Technology side, but what his peer is looking for is a subject matter expert (or SME, as we call them in the trade). Apparently, I am that SME. He said that there was a good chance this would happen.

This past Monday, it was official: I would transition to that new business unit as of next week. I had a lovely chat with my soon-to-be new manager, and we discussed expectations. We’re both excited about this; it’s an opportunity to put my own stamp on a role that hasn’t clearly been defined, but it’s something that has my name written alll over it.

The best thing is my contract will be extended longer. Even better is my soon-to-be new manager raised the possibility that my role could be transitioned into a full-time position with the company.

As I said, all of this is pleasantly unexpected. It comes with a tremendous upside. It also comes with gigantic doses of stress and agitation that will leave me anxious. I’ve been living with anxiety throughout much of my life, and while it’s not crippling, it’s also not something I’ve managed well at times. I had a lengthy talk with my shrink about this, and he wants to put me on anti-anxiety meds.

Part of me says yes, do this.

Part of me says, no, learn to cope with your anxiety better.

And something in my life will have to give.

Unfortunately, something’s had to give, and that something has been my writing. I’ve been so damned distracted, so much so that I feel as I have no time to write. Whatever writing that does happen, it happens in rather tepid fits and spurts. I feel like regardless of what’s been going on in my life, I should be making progress, but I can’t, because of time (obviously), and because I’m mentally drained. So when I do sit down to write, what comes out isn’t anything new and fresh, but instead me focusing on what isn’t working with my work-in-progress.

There comes a point where you have to simply look at the progress you’ve made and take stock. Is the progress you’ve made fruitfull, and worth reaping, or are you simply still spinning your wheels in a field of dirt that yields no fruit. Sadly, it’s been the latter, no matter how many times I’ve taken my WIP apart and put it back together. It just isn’t working, and I’m frustrated.

And then I realized, that a WIP is a lot like a relationship – I’ve touched upon this before: sometimes, it’s not you, it’s me. Sometimes, it’s not me, it’s you. In this case, my WIP and I simply aren’t a solid relationship anymore, so it’s time I moved on. Yeah, I’m not the first writer to have abandoned a WIP, and boldly declare that I will someday return to it. And I probably will, but right now, I need a new point of view.

That new point of view did appear before me, out of the blue, last night. A new idea for a WIP. Something that prompted me to actually sit up, with pen and notebook in hand, regardless of the hour into the night, and jot down a three-page outline. I read it again this morning, and it made me cackle.

Cackle with delight, because it’s bat-shit crazy. And maybe that’s what I need, a work-in-progress that gets me to ride the bat-shit crazy train to Gonzoville, stress and anxiety be damned.

ALL ABOARD!!!

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23 thoughts on “Who the Hell Has Time to Write These Days?

  1. A bat-shit crazy train where even the buses don’t run. Sounds like my kinda train.

    Congrats on the contracts–both of them. Even positive change is a stressor. I’m sure you’ll do the right thing for you and the meds. No shame in branches bending if resisting would only cause them to break.

    I’ve never known a Muse who owns a wristwatch or a calendar. When she visits, jump on that train and enjoy the hell out of the ride.
    ~ Christy

    • I’m glad for the positive change, even with all the stress and anxiety and agitation that comes along with it.

      I’m also glad the Muse bitch-slapped me upside the head, gave me a “come-hither” wink, and sashayed her hips. Yeah, I’m coming along for the ride.

  2. Wow, that’s a big old bunch of goings on. For you to pick up that pen is a feat in itself with all you’re going through. Thankfully the muse stopped in to save your sanity. Wishing you all the best. Congrats on the house sale and the new job contract. Whoo hoo. All Aboard is right.

  3. Hey Gus here’s a thought that might be helpful (not nearly as good as a couple of Xanax and three glasses of a $15 red…but, free!): I used to think that if I wasn’t working on a WIP or writing fiction in whatever form I wasn’t writing. Somewhere over the years the lines between writing fiction, blogging, writing criticism, writing ad copy etc. began to blur, the labels started to peel, and it became apparent that the simple act of transporting a thought (unstructured data?) into language (and vice versa?) is just one step in the whole writing process, regardless of where that thought ends up: in a blog, a short, a flash piece, a novel, a poem, an essay describing your experience with a zombie real estate agent and her zombie customers when Ozzy shows up on the crazy train…someday it adds up into something or several somethings I guess. Right?

    My wife of 30 years and I have bought and sold 5 houses and are now living in number 6, and there’s a story in every one of ’em. (Our first house had 14 phone lines when we bought it in 1987…what do you suppose that guy did for a living?). Last two weeks we’ve been dealing with our 25 yr-old son’s testicular cancer…one great big fucked up deal that is, I tell ya. Anyway keep ’em comin, Gus! Thanks!

    • Jeb, I completely agree. I’m always finding myself writing, whether it’s a blog or a snippet of something I’m putting together for either a short story or my WIP. Always keep writing, I saw.

      Sorry to hear about your son’s testicular cancer. Here’s my hope for a full recovery, and soon.

  4. I can relate, Gus. My day job has been taking a lot out of me, and since it pays the bills it has to come before any of my fiction writing projects. i have been writing some poetry and an occasional blog, but that’s about all I can handle right now.
    Take a well deserved ride on that bat-shit crazy train. You’ll be back stronger than ever.

  5. Well you’ve had a busload of crap on your plate. First off, congrats on the sale of the house. Sucks to have to weather an apartment, though. Glad you were kept on at work in the same but different capacity…a friend of mine works through gubment contracts and he faces the same thing at various times.

    Been busy myself, Real life stuff is keeping me hopping, and I’m able to only write like, a sentence a day. Scheduled book release is sometime in 2035. So the closest “writing” I’m doing is on my blog. I actually threw a memoir-esque post up the other day. Check it out…let me know what you think. I’m also developing (resurrecting) a memoir-type of blog that will follow along the same lines as my latest post.

    Anyhoo…at least things seem to be going in a positive direction for you.

    • Definitely a busload of crap, but it’s manageable. As for you, I’m looking forward to your book release. By that time, I should still have my eyesight, assuming great advancements in opthamolagy have taken place to where people won’t have to fear losing their vision.

  6. Bat shit crazy or not, you have me intrigued on your new WIP! Sounds like things are extremely hectic right now for you… here’s hoping things slow soon (or at least adjust) so that you can write more and stress less. Congrats on the house changes too!

    • I’ll describe it like this: a pinch of “Office Space,” a dash of “Fight Club,” a dose of “Dexter,” and a splash of “500 Days of Summer.” Splatter all over the wall, and see what sticks.

      Yeah, I’m excited…and I have no idea how this even came to me. Yikes!

  7. Ah it’s a wild ride, isn’t it? I appreciate the genuine nature of this post and your writing always. Clearly they love you at your work – that’s a blessing. Remember to be kind to yourself and let go of judging yourself at all.

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  9. Batshit crazy always makes me cackle too. It’s the best EVER!! Congrats on all the good changes happening in your life and sorry to hear about the anxiety. Hey, I can commiserate, huh! haha. Life likes to throw those old curveballs and I suck at baseball! But you’ll do just fine! And I’m glad you got inspired. I’ve been feeling better lately too ever since cutting the meds in half. I can sleep!! And I’m finally starting to catch up on stuff like reading other people’s blogs that I’ve been ignoring for 6 weeks or so. It feels so good!!

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