with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
To further confuse this metaphor, I’ve included a handy photo of a pothole, even though I really did mean a slothole. Which is, of course, an imaginary thing.
Some of the very best advice I’ve ever received on writing for a living without losing your ever-lovin’ mind has come to me by way of my dear friend Joshilyn Jackson. Joshilyn—in addition to being one of my favorite people—is a NY Times bestselling novelist, so when she talks about the writerly life and how to succeed in this business, I listen. She knows whereof she speaks, is my point. And my favorite piece of advice from her, bar none, is this admonition: Don’t be slotty.
I was reminded of this because of a recent post on her blog where she mentioned it, but really the best summation comes from this post of hers which is now several years old. She says:
You know “slotty thinking?” It’s where you feel like there is one slot, and it is morally and rightfully yours, and every time you see another writer succeed, that was possibly YOUR slot they took, so you slow burn inside with bitter embers, and it makes you do and say ugly, hurtful things, and since we are what we do, eventually you become ugly and hurtful.
There are no “slots.” There is only the best book I can write, and the work, and doing all I can for it. It lets me be happy for other people while still trying my hardest and not losing my edge and my will to succeed. When you run into SLOTTY folks (and you will, no matter what business you are in) the best thing you can do to think of them with kindness, because I have stood on the edges of that way of playing the game, and it is an awful place. No one can be happy there.
I took these words to heart years ago, and have, I think, been pretty good about conducting myself professionally in the spirit of cooperation and cheerleading my colleagues and generally appreciating what I have and experiencing genuine happiness whenever a fellow writer has met with success. I have avoided jealousy and feelings of resentment or worry that someone has somehow taken my spot in the universe, and it’s good.
Except that I’ve had a hard couple of months (for reasons largely unrelated to work), and last week I realized that I was starting to be slotty. Good news for another brought a slow burning in my chest and a bad mood that whispered that I would never have similar victory. I found myself retreating from others further than usual (which is saying something, because I tend to be a pretty solitary person), and feeling unhappy in my own skin. I started feeling like a failure.
And it wasn’t because of anything I’d done or not done. It was because of (great) things other people had done.
I was being slotty.
This week I’m getting back to basics. It started yesterday with an inventory of where my business is at, and—surprise—I felt pretty good about myself upon doing so. I’m on track to earn at least as much this year as I did last, even with the recession and various contracts that I’ve lost due to cutbacks. There are things I’ve written and jobs I’ve handled this year of which I’m very proud. I’m doing fine, in other words. Last night I slept better than I have in a long time.
Are there things I still want to achieve that I haven’t managed yet? Absolutely. Does it have anything to do with anyone else? Nope. Am I accomplishing anything by accommodating ugly thoughts while I wait? Good lord, no.
So I’ve learned that 1) I’m human and 2) being slotty is not only useless and ugly, it just plain doesn’t feel good.
My slot—which really isn’t a slot at all—is out there, and I’m the only one who can fill it. Here’s to not tripping and falling into any other slotholes, in the meantime.
Subscribe to blog via RSS