I learned something about myself recently:
I happen to be in a very routine place right now: after months of writing, The Beauty of Different has been turned into my publisher, and is about to released to the printer. Soon enough, my schedule is going to fill up with marketing efforts for the book; but for right now, things are relatively quiet: I have daily obligations and duties (which I thoroughly enjoy), but these days there really isn't any of the slaving long days or working to crushing deadlines that I was doing during the earlier part of the year. And you know what?
I kind of miss it.
As I was thinking about it, it reminded me of one of my first jobs out of law school -- my first position at Very Large Corporation, when I was the transactional lawyer for the North and South American region of its software subsidiary. I was constantly traveling, and at the end of each quarter, when closing deals mattered, I would work 19-hour-days, crafting contracts and figuring out how to take the complicated formulae the business folks came up with as part of the commercial deal, and changing it into plain English. And I loved it.
What I think is interesting is that during that period, I was making very little money -- far less than the going rate for lawyers at the time. Similarly, I'm not making very much money now -- and in both cases, I consider them incredibly happy times in my professinoal life. Contrast this to the end of my tenure at Very Large Corporation, when I was making more than quadruple my starting salary, more than I thought I'd ever make in my lifetime, and I was miserable. But I also wasn't crafting deals then: by then I had been promoted to manager, and my job consisted of mediating employee disputes and avoiding costly lawsuits. My day to day life didn't require crafting documents that would bring people together, or result in a happy ending; it was about facing conflict day after day, all day long.
I'd even begun to suspect that the only reason I was being paid that much was because the company knew that was the only way to keep me there.
What this has taught me is that I'm happiest when I'm creating -- particularly when there are large projects in front of me, requiring me to use whatever I have at my disposal to communicate -- images, words, whatever. I'm happiest when I know that at the end of the project, I'm going to be able to have tangible evidence of my work: an exhibit, a book to hold, a presentation to give.
And I've learned that I'd better enjoy the doldrums now, because at some point, inspiration is going to kick in, and it's going to be long nights and crushing deadlines all over again.
(Incidentally, speaking of projects, I'm starting to think about a book tour. And since my publisher is tiny, any book tour that I do is going to be on my dime and on my time. But I love to travel, and I love the thought of meeting as many of you as my budget will allow, so I plan. Also, I may need your help to get organized in various cities. Are you with me?
Image: Photographed with my Nikon D300 and my 50mm lens.