Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 Year End Review; pt3: Work

clock on the squareThis is the third and final installment of my 2008 year end review and today is about work.

“So, do you work?”

It is tempting at times like these to quote Omar Sharif’s line in Doctor Zhivago (1965): “I have always worked.”

Of course that would assume the question is about working, which it is not; instead the question is about getting paid. However, it is considered a social faux pas to talk – nay, ask – about what people get paid so asking about working is a sort of euphemism. The assumption is that if we know if, where, and what kind of work a person does that we can extrapolate an economic estimate of their social currency so we can decide if they are worth our time and energy.

So, now that I’ve got your hackles up I’ll answer both questions. Yes, I do work; and yes, I do get paid – sort of.

As I mentioned in Part 1 this year looks so different today than was anticipated a year ago. Those changes not only affected my ability to write on some existing projects including this blog as often as I had planned but also the ability to expand my micro-freelancing for the newspaper into other arenas. I considered, searched for, and even applied to some carefully selected positions with other employers but to no avail. Moving forward in my work, my writing, and my income potential was blocked at nearly every conceivable point.

So what’s different besides everything?

This time last year I was looking ahead to at least starting if not accomplishing three things under the umbrella of work: I was working toward moving my blog to my own domain, I was exploring how to expand freelancing beyond just a weekly column, and I was trying to find a regular part-time position to bring in some predictable income to fund my expansion and move. Really, not one of those things came to be; they didn’t even get off the planning page.

Sometimes life comes at you so hard it’s all you can do to keep one eye on your gimbals and one on the star field. I mentioned to Melissa the other day that the past year felt much like the Apollo 13 moon launch. That flight was termed a “successful failure” because the crew returned safely but did not accomplish the mission objectives. Somehow I have made it through the year and landed on my feet; but nothing I set out to do got done and most of it never got started.

What’s on the horizon?

Looking ahead to 2009 it’s easy to speculate about it being the year of second chances. However, it isn’t as simple as taking a template and laying it over top of another year. I’m not the same person I was a year ago; in some ways that is good but in some ways that is not so good. A year ago I looked at this list and beamed; there was so much energy emanating from the possibilities, and hope that buoyed me just above my natural fear level. The events of the past year have tempered all of that.

That does not mean that I have nothing to look forward to; it also does not mean I am not looking forward to the coming year (sorry about the double negative). Things, however, look unmistakably different this year from a year ago. Things, other than me and my circumstances, are different from a year ago, as well; such as the economy, the part-time employment prospects, the stability of print journalism and a dozen other issues that one way or another influence the sphere in which I live and work just like the rest of you.

But while I did not meet any of my initial objectives that does not mean the work year was bereft of accomplishments. I did double my income from the column contract and much of that was due to extra photos published. My database of source contacts has more than doubled from last year and I am on several notification lists which means people and groups are calling me not just the other way around.

My blog, as a branch of my work life, in many ways is still looking for a home both on the web and what it is going to be about. For the present I am privileged to enjoy a very eclectic community of readers who wait patiently for me to show up with some random thought I have snagged in my travels. Sometimes we’re very animated but other times we are very quiet. Being comfortable with silence has been an important lesson to relearn, not just online but in general.

And the bottom line is?

The year I had was not the year I planned or hoped to have. However, the year I had is going to be immensely important to my personhood, my work and writing and other creative endeavors, and to my future stability in every respect. I can’t say that I would have deliberately chosen the year I have had but I can say that I anticipate a growing appreciation for this year and the events that have taken place during it. I think that the person I am being shaped into through these events is the one who will be more capable of succeeding at her future endeavors.

Note: While in the Introduction I listed there were four planned installations for this series I have decided that a fourth would be merely a rehash of parts of the previous three and has been canceled.

2008 Year End Review Series:

Part 1: Personal
Part 2: Writing and Blogging
Part 3: Work


Melissa Donovan said...

That's the funny thing about change - it always looks a lot better once it's behind you. I think you'll come out of this year like a butterfly - beautiful and flying :)

chelle said...

I think we all have years that do not go as planned and make us feel as though we are at a stale mate.

I hope this new year brings you much peace, allows you to be empowered to achieve your goals and happiness.

Happy new year friend!

Daisy said...

Social currency -- very descriptive term. In many ways, my job has social currency, even though I'm in a field people love to hate (public school teaching).

jamiegrove said...

This was a beautiful series of posts. I'm so glad you've been able to take such a trying time and turn it into a growth experience. You are an incredibly strong person and a great writer. Best of luck in 2009!!!! :)

G's Cottage said...

@Melissa - A butterfly, I'm cool with that. I planted my first butterfly garden this year and what fun to see all the colorful wings flitting to and fro. (I worried that someone might say I was a lone reed.) I try for now not to be impatient for the days when things will look better.

@Chelle - I know what you mean about the stalemate thing. Some days it feels like I'm caught in a game of Strategema with Data manipulating the status quo (Star Trek NG Season2 "Peak Performance") I am definitely ready for some positive changes.

@Daisy - It would be one thing if people only ranted against bad schools but unfortunately they tend rant against them all.

@Jamie - When it became clear there was no other path to take I decided I was not just going along for the ride. Is it hard some days to stay with that choice, yes. But the alternative was to lose a year completely and that was not an option.

Dorit said...

I think it's really important to honestly evaluate how far you've come as a writer and a person and I think you've done just that inthe last four posts.

I think we all need to work on feeling successful in the moment right now - we often snap out of this. May 2009 be your best year - YET, my friend.

Pieces of Me said...

p.s. It's me - Dorit. (previous post) Happy New Year.

G's Cottage said...

@Dorit - I have had to make a point of taking "just fine" breaks to remember that for five minutes or half a day things are fine and nothing terrible is happening.

Happy new Year to you and your family too.