September Hiatus

Hey folks! If you're a patron over on my Patreon campaign, then you've already heard this but I probably should put it here too.

I'm taking a hiatus from writing for the month of September. I failed to get anything published on Amazon for August, and I'll probably not be publishing anything in September either. Don't worry, I'm okay. I'm doing pretty good in fact, because I finally got me a job!

I was starting to run into the burnout problem with my writing in August, partly because my parents keep invading with virtually no warning, and that's only going to get worse as the house they're building gets closer and closer to completion. It was also partly because of the trouble I have been having with finding a job. My sister had gotten me an in with a company she used to work for, helped me update my resume, passed it on to her contact at the company in question... and I ended up getting rejected. Again.

That really wears on you, and it was wearing on me. So I turned to a friend who helped me update my resume a second time, which ultimately came at just the right time. Two days after I spent the afternoon getting my resume tweaked again, I got a call from the staffing agency I had been waiting to hear back from. My representative told me she had a position available on exceptionally short notice, meaning they needed a person to start the following Monday, not even a full week away. The call came in while I was talking with my parents because they had invaded. I told my rep I was interested and then mom and dad grilled me for whatever information they could get. They even started giving me advice for my first day of work as if I had already gotten the job. ...go figure...

Anyway, I did all the things I was asked to do as part of applying for the job, went in for an interview, and that Friday (only two days later), I got a call letting me know I got the job. I was also told there was a change. I wasn't going to start that coming Monday, but rather the Tuesday of the following week, the first workday after Labor Day. That was totally cool by me, it would give me a chance to prepare more thoroughly.

I was eager, excited, nervous, anxious, and even slightly repulsed. I've been unemployed for so long, I kind of didn't want to give up the freedom I had gotten so used to. I was also deeply concerned that I would screw up something really badly and get myself fired, and then the staffing agency wouldn't be able to place me again. However, I was going to give it my best. So, I went a little ham and threw out something around 80% of my wardrobe, ran to a local department store that is lousy with sales all the damn time (Belk is a marvelous place) and went on a little shopping spree.

It was so nice. I didn't have mommy, daddy, or sisters around picking out clothes for me or demanding I try it on or saying "Oh this looks cute! You'll like this!" when no, no I fucking won't. I was on my own. I picked out my own clothes. I tried them on to make sure they fit and assembled a number of outfits. It was so damn satisfying. I felt like a fucking adult. Because there's not much that makes you feel like a little useless child like having your family pick out clothes for you and make you act like their own personal Ken doll so they can play dress up with you.

I washed all my new clothes (and even went back and bought some more because I didn't have enough pants or socks, and I was in need of a new belt... even though I went just to buy a new bathrobe since my last one was torn, worn out... and I had gotten rid of it. I was ready, even trying to mentally prepare myself for the horrific commute that I was awaiting me. Seriously, if you've never lived in Dallas, I-35 and I-635 are absolutely hateful. The latter has moments when it's somewhat okay, but the former... I've never had an experience on that road that wasn't dreadful. Needless to say, I wasn't looking forward to it.

The first day came. I slogged through the traffic, did my time, slogged back through the traffic which somehow had gotten worse for the commute home, and ran around trying to get ready for bed because I didn't have much time to myself... my parents invaded yet again. I got through the first week, learning a few things during training, learning a few things about the commute, and learning a few things about just how to get by in general. So far, I don't hate the job, which is huge.

I don't have to deal with customers being completely and entirely vicious and cruel. I don't have to deal with a client that is actively doing anything and everything it can to make my job impossible, then lay blame on me for not doing said job 'correctly'. I don't have to deal with co-workers who are decades older than me (most of the people in this office are roughly my age) nor are they composed primarily of boomers or neo-boomers. I'm sorry, but I just don't get along with that particular crowd. They say and do things thoughtlessly, expect to be able to push work off on to other people because they have "seniority" if they've been there longer, and try to insist that you like/dislike the same things they like/dislike. I never really felt like I belonged at the last job, which I like to call "The Bad Place™". I always felt like an outsider who didn't gel with most anyone else. Here, while I don't necessarily know what feel it has yet, I do feel like there's a more welcoming atmosphere.

Probably because The Bad Place™ was a large, multinational company with tens of thousands of employees and I was just one little cog, a number on a spreadsheet... and this is a small law office of about 30 employees. I like that feel a lot better.

And you'd think that being a small law office, it would have old, outdated equipment you struggle to get anything done on. But no, they have some of the most modern equipment I've ever seen! Instead of using an inexpensive, older version of MS Office (read: Office 2007), they use Office 365 and Windows 10 rather than 8. There's a fingerprint scanner for the punch-clock rather than needing to remember and enter an employee number (I haven't gotten to use that yet, I'm still just a temp so I have to put my time in online with the staffing agency). The reason why my start date was pushed back was because they were installing new desks for one area that had been left rather empty, so my desk is brand new, kind of stylish, and designed with a sort of open feel rather than a closed in, slightly suffocating cubical lined with that horrible fabric junk that traps dust only to blow it back out on you if you bump into it. It feels very modern and sleek, like I'm not going to be struggling against the technology to get my work done like at The Bad Place™.

Again, big multinational corporation versus small firm. They can afford to spend the money to make everything new and shiny. A big corp will do anything and everything they can to avoid updating whenever possible because they are desperate to give every last cent they can to themselves.

So far, I'm rather pleased with the job. I've learned what I've been told fairly quickly. I've been put to use in the filing room a lot since there's only so much I can do currently, which has had the practical side of me correcting a lot of the filing errors. Seriously... how hard is it to file things alphabetically? It's clear one or two people just do not freaking care and shove files wherever, making it impossible to find anything. I've been messing around in there so much I've gone through and corrected a number of these problems. It's actually gotten me more than one compliment on the work I'm doing. And not that silly, half-genuine kind of thanks some people give you just as an obligation. I had one lady actually stop what she was doing, walk over to me, and with a remarkable degree of sincerity and emotional weight tell me "Thank you so much for all the filing and organizing you've been doing. You don't know how much better it is when you can actually find the files you're looking for without having to hunt for an hour."

So yeah... it's been going pretty good so far. I get the feeling I very well could be brought on permanently whenever they feel like making the change over. Doubly so given that another temp guy who looks like he's maybe ten years younger than me and probably fresh out of college--god I feel old saying that--has been doing not so good. Without really intending to, I heard some of what I guess would be called gossip about him. One of the training ladies was complaining to another lady about how he consistently shows up half an hour late. If it's the guy I think they're talking about, I had a very brief interaction with him while I was filing and he seemed ever so slightly clueless about how to file things.

Honestly... how do you not know how to file things? It's one of the absolute easiest things to do in an office. This isn't one of those situations where there's some complicated, esoteric filing system that relies on color coding or numbering systems. It's the customer's last name in alphabetical order with a four digit number that relates to the file number should there be more than one of the same last name. This is super easy. How do you fail at that?

Anyway, the job is going well so far. First week completed, not looking forward to the drive or getting up so early, but the job makes it less terri-bad.

Now to the point of this whole long post. I'm taking a writing hiatus for the month of September.

I have to take some time and get used to the new job, its demands on my time and energy, the altered schedule I'm operating under, managing my money and resources differently... it's a big lifestyle change. It's really important to focus on it because really I cannot lose this job. I don't have the freedom I had back at The Bad Place™ to bring my laptop or a notebook to write in while I have downtime... mainly because there really isn't any downtime. It's not as harried and demanding as The Bad Place™ but there is constant work. When you're done doing whatever you need your computer for, you can run into the filing room and do some filing. There's always more filing to do. It's a constant churn, which is to be expected.

It doesn't have that sense of being on fire all the time that The Bad Place™ had where you'd have periodic moments of "OKAY THERE'S WORK TO DO! GET IT DONE FAST!!" and periods of "There is nothing to do but you can't go and do anything to keep yourself entertained so just stay at your desk and wait for more... oh and answer a billion phone calls you're not supposed to get". Instead, there's this gentle yet consistent "Okay, that's done. Now to move on to the next thing." in a pace that feels manageable. Yes, the documents I review have a two or four hour hard limit for me to finish work on from the point of the office receiving them, but I'm still new so I don't get many of them, and I've gotten fairly quick at the process compared to how long it used to take me at the very start. It used to take me forty minutes to finish one. Now, I can knock out three in just over an hour. And my supervisor who reviews all the reviews to ensure no errors has come back with only a handful of errors for me to fix. I'm getting the swing of things and I'm keeping busy... but that means I can't sneak in a little writing while I'm there.

The hope is that I will be able to get brought on permanently, get the sizable bump in pay, and then move somewhere closer to the office. I've got my eye on a couple of places that are pretty neato-keen. Two are super close. One is literally a block away. I could walk to work. The other is across the interstate. I'd have a five minute commute without ever having to get on the highway. Another is a bit further away, but it has some lovely amenities that I would be foolish to ignore. It's close enough that it would be maybe 10-15 minutes on side streets, no need to get on the highway. All that extra time would mean A) I wouldn't have to get up at the buttcrack of dawn just to contend with traffic and B) the trip home would be pretty quick.

Currently, I spend about an hour and a half to two hours just in the car commuting to and from. Since I'm at the office for nine hours minimum (with the expectation of overtime when the workload demands it), that puts me at spending at least ten and a half to eleven hours away from home. Take out another eight for sleep, and that means I'm getting only five or six hours (roughly) for anything I might want to do or need to take care of after work. That is super sucky. I hate that so much. But if I can move closer... then I can wake up an hour before work, fart around getting ready, maybe have an actual, legit, make it myself breakfast, then have that tiny commute, and have that same tiny commute to get back home. I would get two extra hours back (roughly). That would be marvelous. It would give me a chance to actually work in a regular period of writing... maybe an hour or two every day unless I have other things I need to handle.

So yeah, my time is rather limited right now. I need to adjust to the schedule before I start tackling getting back into writing. Sure, I could just stay up later, get by on less sleep... but that is a terrible idea. For one thing, it means my writing will be of lesser quality and two, it means I'll increase the chance of getting to work late while also being more tired and therefore more irritable. Being more irritable means people around me won't want me around, thus increasing the chance of getting fired. It's a double whammy.

Don't worry, I'm not actually giving up writing. I just need to adjust. And while it sucks I have to put it aside, maybe the break will give me a chance to rejuvenate my creative juices. Burnout fuggin' sucks.

In the meantime, thank you for understanding and thank you for your continued support, even if it's just leaving a nice comment on Twitter, SoFurry, or Amazon. I'll be back soon. I promise.