Friday, January 8, 2010

Off the Grid - The Battle

Anatomy of a Battle in the War Against Depression/Failure

An extended stint of unemployment can be challenging, especially for single people holed up in their homes or apartments with, seemingly, nothing more to do than check the same old job boards and struggle against the urge to crawl back to bed.

I know. I’ve been unemployed, semi-employed and underemployed since May, and it’s getting to me. Recently, some lucky freelance assignments have dried up, hours at J.Jill have shrunk, and a cold snap has put my regular, early morning walks on hiatus.

While I write in my journal every morning, creating project ideas and crafting careful to-do lists, I find it harder and harder to actually get out of bed and into my office/studio.

Today, for example, was to be a studio day. An email from a gallery owner with some semi-good news about a few of my artist books: they were being considered by a collector (good) but felt to be overpriced (bad). Would I consider re-pricing? Yes. I left this exchange primed to make more books. Indeed, I’m planning a show for May and need to be working. So what did I make this morning? Cookies!

As a freelance writer and book artist, my days are created from raw ingredients of ideas, equipment, supplies, skills and experience. But I need more. I need confidence and energy. I need a sense of purpose. Why am I floundering? Could it be fear?

As an unemployed editor and staff writer, my days are created from Internet searches, LinkedIn networking, resume tweaking and follow-ups on every and all meetings. I search the area colleges for openings in faculty, administration and management. I search the businesses closest to home because I really don’t want another 20-mile commute to cubeland. I do, however, want the “safety” net of insurance, steady pay, fellow sufferers. I want the identity I used to have. I want my friends to respect me.

Maybe I need to commit, either to getting a job or to being a freelance writer and book artist. It is 1 in the afternoon. I’ve checked the forums of the freelance networks I joined. I’ve perused the articles in Suite 101, a content mill that has accepted my application to write (at a rate I was earning in 1979). I’ve made another list. I’ve called my hair stylist. I’ve felt old. I’ve read sample query letters. I’ve eaten lunch. And now I sit down to do what I do best: ponder what to do next.

I feel better. But I still have not committed.

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