a Dear George letter

Dear John,

A dreaded phrase representing the end of a relationship. The realization from one party that what had been built to bind two together was now untenable.

There is so much wrapped up in that phrase, a sense of loss, of disappointment, and in some cases, betrayal.

Dear George,

I process my thoughts and emotions on the page. As I have come to appreciate my work situation with less gut-emotion and more critical thinking, I was disappointed that there was not an equivalent type of precedent for the ending of a employee / employer relationship.

I sat down this weekend to craft such a letter, a “Dear George” I am calling it, detailing why I feel my staying with my current employer is untenable.

I have truly valued my time in the George A. Smathers Library, and part of me is genuinely loathe to leave, but the more rational side, the part of me that can predict possible paths forward and the likelihood of certain situations to resolve in a way that I can continue to grow, tells me that this kind of resolution is highly unlikely at this point.

So, I drafted my letter, and worked through the complex thoughts and feelings behind why I cannot foresee a reasonable way to stay an employee of this library system. And though it hurts, I know that my decision is the right one for me.

And maybe the concept of “Dear George” letters will become a thing, and other people will gain value from a breakup letter to their employer even if, like my letter, it is never sent.

Image of Smathers library, with sunrise through windows of grand reading room

George A. Smathers library

 

https://tinyurl.com/Dear-George-2020-01

 

2020 – Word of the Year

Release

Illustration of hands releasing butterfliesThe word I have chosen as my focus this year is Release.

This, in part, is an extension of my word from past year(s), Simplify.

To me, the concept of release captures letting go of clutter, yes, but also unhealthy emotional attachments, and release of pre-conceived notions of who I should be, and what my life should look like.

There are all these messages, these stories, of what an ideal life looks like. Many of them picked up as children, from the grown-ups around us. That young, you feel like the adults know it all. It isn’t until decades later you realize everyone was making it up as they went along.

The standards – marriage, steady growing career, home, pets or children – are comfortable. They are reinforced through our media and our social interactions. They feel like the safe choice, the best option. But all they are is a story.

So this year I plan to challenge the tropes life has fed me. Let go of who I’m supposed to be to let in who I am. I am both excited and anxious about this process, what if I don’t like who I am? What if the deep-down real me is more of a disappointment than me trying to live to those societal norms.

photograph of about a dozen upside down parasols on the groundBut then, every story has its challenges. And one of the things I love about writing is flipping expectations on their heads. Time to explore that off the page, as well.

Next Chapters: Writing – part 1

This, surprisingly, is another post I am finding difficult to write. Is this what irony feels like?

I came to the realization that I don’t have a good sense of what “success” looks like. But in a profession like writing, I think that looks different for each person. So, then, the question should be “What does success look like for me.”

Continuous Learning:
I Should Be Writing logo

In 2011 I began to seek out and sign up for writing classes and workshops, starting with The Loose Cannon workshops with ISBW sometimes co-host, Matt Wallace.

I began backing authors on Pateron (and its precursors) to the level where I got their newsletters and more, including classes with Mary Robinette, and one-on-one conversations with Mur.

Writing Excuses 2019 logoIn 2013 I got into the inaugural Writing Excuses: Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat (WXR13), hosted at Robin’s Roost in TN. It is from this workshop which my online critique group formed (and still meets). I also attended the WXR in 2015 for its first cruise, in the Caribbean, and again in 2017 on the Baltic Sea cruise.

Another favorite of mine is the Writer’s Symposium affiliated with GenCon. Not only do I find the classes valuable, and the gaming convention with which it is associated amazing, but it has provided me the opportunity to reconnect with some of my online crit group, WXR 2013 alumni, in person.

I have also tried to give back to the writing community. I served as minion at the 2014 Writing the Other workshop at Robin’s Roost, helping to prepare meals, and getting attendees where they were supposed to be. The other minion and I took turns attending the classes. I’ve volunteered at the GenCon Writer’s Symposium, manning the swag table, helping attendees find rooms and serving door duties for some of the sessions. Here, too, I was able to attend several of the workshops when I was off-shift.

This past year I attended the Surrey International Writers’ Conference at which I had an amazing time catching up with people, meeting new people, taking classes and participating in my first pitch session.

Take Aways:

Drawn image of a stack of books with a quill and ink pot in front of it.

What does success look like?

As I sat down to write this, I acknowledge there are some resources that I pursued, but did not take full advantage of, including an Afrofuturism web course, a year-long access to Dave Farland’s trove of classes, and a year-long subscription to MasterClass, which I got specifically to watch Neil Gaiman’s course, and have renewed this year (thanks mom & dad for the Christmas money) to finish watching it and seeing what other courses look worthwhile.

I also realize how important it is to me to feel engaged and to give back where I can. The volunteering opportunities themselves were worthwhile, regardless of my getting access to classes/panels as compensation. Seeing authors I know from previous endeavors again also puts a smile on my face, and energizes me.

It is only recently (read this month) that I realized I may have been using workshops, courses, and other writing-adjacent activities as a subtle procrastination tool to my actual writing. But it is so easy to justify these efforts because, after all, they are pursued with the intention of improving my writing.

On the other hand, you can only edit what is on the page, so even if you’ve got the shiniest tools in your writer’s toolbox, if you have nothing to work with, are the tools of any use at all?

To Be Continued
Cross-posted at my author website

Godot

Invalid reasons that I put things I want to do on hold:

What are you waiting for?

  • For my meds to stabilize
  • To hear back about the We Need Diverse Books mentorship application
  • To hear back about the Futurescapes application *
  • To hear back from job applications
  • To feel like it
  • To get enough distance from the story to look at it objectively
  • For better weather
  • For inspiration
  • To get to the end of this series I’m watching
  • To not be sad
  • For my husband to finish his sewing projects
  • To have completed one project completely
  • To have “leveled up” in my writing ability
  • For the 2020 “Unravelling your year” workbook to be available
  • To take just one more writing class
Person standing next to suitcase, looking out over field and trees at dusk

Waiting

*I’ve heard back, and was accepted to this workshop. Airline tickets, hotel and registration for it and LTUE are all settled.

Next Chapters: Mental Health

This post has been surprisingly difficult to write. I have been candid about my mental health from my first diagnosis with major depressive disorder (as evidenced by the depression category here on my site). It is only because I talked with others / read about others experiences that I sought the help I hadn’t recognized I needed. I want to provide that to others, but more importantly I want to help normalize conversations, regarding mental health and neurodiversity, to help combat the social stigma around them.

Despite that, looking ahead to where I want to be/ set goals for my mental health, I get stymied as what to write.

I think that is in part, due to the fact that I have some coping mechanisms that let me function with my wonky brain chemistry. Most of the next steps rely on tweaking my (numerous) medications to hit that sweet spot.

Diagnosis: Depression

My depression has never manifested as thoughts of the world being better without me, or that not being in the world would be better. It took me a while after receiving my diagnosis to see what the effects were.

I became markedly less social, succumbing to “home gravity” more frequently. I also felt comfortable in a job where I got to hide back in my cubicle all day, with record maintenance and project management instead of patron / customer interactions.

Also, my interest in creative endeavors declined. I still considered myself a writer, despite lack of words making it to page. There was just the guilt of not doing the work, and the weight of that and my depression keeping me from picking up the pen.

On bad days there is the urge to cry, even though nothing is wrong, and this weight behind my sternum that wants me to just curl into myself. A stuffed animal or too-tight huge also work to alive that feeling some.

Diagnosis: Anxiety

My anxiety is less subtle, but also seems less prevalent. I’ve had one out-and-out panic attack that I can identify. Otherwise it rears its head by feeling jittery, or like I’m forgetting something, or not starting things, or not sticking with them.

Diagnosis: ADHD

A lot of the symptoms for anxiety overlap with my newest diagnosis, ADHD, combined presentation (clinically significant symptoms of inattention & clinically significant symptoms of hyperactivity). Unfortunately the addition of treatment for this has tilted the balance on my other meds, and we are looking at other possible solutions. But my doctor says both the ADHD and anxiety could explain my wanting to do things, enjoy doing the things, even, yet getting up and walking away from them (often literally), or, even worse, not getting started.

I guess next steps include trying to get that right balance of meds, but I don’t want to only rely on drugs for my mental health.

I’ve dallied with meditation before, and I know that days are easier when I’ve had enough sleep and steer clear of soda. I like the idea of goals and lists, and employ them frequently to get myself organized, but that doesn’t necessarily get me started on any of the items on said list.

I also journal (and sometimes blog). Putting words on paper helps me navigate through the toughest patches. I am grateful to have access to my psychiatrist, and for friends and family that understand if they ask “Are you ok?” That sometimes my reply is “Well, nothing is wrong.”

Because, honestly, sometimes that the best it can get.