The Written Workaholic

Image by kymioflario via Flickr

I’ll confess: I’m a workaholic.

It’s something that’s always been in my blood; I’ve always been driven by this incessant need to be productive. As a teen, I once snapped at my grandfather for simply sitting in his chair thinking, the poor soul. I also had a lot of vitriol for my father for coming home after a 50+ hour work week and spending all of his ‘free time’ playing games instead of helping out with things that needed to get done around the house.

You’d think as a gamer, I’d be a lazypuss, wanting to just kick back and chill and play video games all day. In fact, video games are one of the few things I make an exception for, but I made a boo-boo: I made video games my line of work! 90% of the time, when I’m playing a video game, it’s because I’m going to be writing about it. The other 10% I spend thinking about how I can write about the game anyway. In fact, the only real escape I have from myself is my photography: it gives me “something to do” combined with something I really enjoy, and I don’t let it become work – in fact, I have a no-professional-photography clause. I’m allowed to sell prints and take pictures for friends for tips, but no working.

Now that I’m a professional writer, I am driven by the incessant need to write. I can toss a dozen quotes at you to justify my point of view that real writers don’t ever stop writing, and if we run out of led or ink or power, we’ll bleed on the walls if we have to. Eugene Ionesco sums it up best for me, however, in saying, “A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” I write until my wrists are almost broken from the strain, and then I go do something else while plotting ahead with many more things I can write.

As a writer, I think this is perfectly healthy. As a human being, I do not.

Part of the problem is that I work from home, although I imagine I’d be taking work home anyway so long as I was a professional writer. I manage my own business, so it’s very hard to separate “me” from “my writing” or “my business.” It’s all tied together in a very convoluted knot that leaves me with other issues, like “Should I let the world know that I am bisexual?”; something I thankfully do not shy from because I like being true to myself, but there are other aspects of my life I try to play hide-and-go-seek with because I am my own brand and anything public is fair game. Regardless, the life of a writer is a very personal one and a very public one, and this makes separation of who I am and what I write very, very hard.

The other problem is that I simply have little to do, nowhere to go. Right now, all the money I earn is being sucked up by bills, which means I literally can’t afford a vacation or a night out. I do know how to relax and enjoy time away from work, but when I’m not getting that time, I’m not going to make any effort to do anything but work some more. I have a great friendship with my husband, which means he’s great at taking me out anyway from time to time and making sure I spend some “me” time (like taking me out to take pictures at a local garden). My other two local friends, however, have been too wrapped up with their own families and lives to be able to make time to hang out (and I say this with gentleness and love, not bitterness.) Ultimately, I have little means or incentive to “get out,” which just makes me all the more absorbed in work.

Don’t get me wrong; I love what I do and I’m very happy writing my brains out until I become a zombie at 4am and my body forces me to sleep. But sometime from now, a line must be drawn for my sanity, my health, and my chance to see the sun without a window in the way.

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