This will be a different sort of post. If you’re curious where Murray’s Bookshelf has been (that’s probably another way of asking if you know me in meatspace), by all means read on. If you’re not… well, come back for another book review next Tuesday, very much in keeping with this month’s light theme.
At my day job, I support proprietary, internal software for a big company. In mid-July, my employer – let’s call them Conglom-O – announced that they will no longer use 2 of the 3 major product lines my team supported starting Sept. 1. At that time, the odds that I would still have a job after that date looked very slim. What I do is decently technical, but also very niche. There are principles I can apply to another job, but nothing that translates directly. Add that to the fact that I count myself among the 40% of college graduates employed in an area totally unrelated to their degree, and I know my resume is a mess. I don’t look forward to the idea of looking for a new job. Plus, I hate change. Give me stability any day.
I went through – no, scratch that – I am still going through a process of discovering who I am and what I want to be. I spent some time reflecting on my preferences and my skills. Even after the initial panic died down, the fog of war cleared, and it looked like I would still have a job at Conglom-O, I had to ask myself if it was the type of job I wanted. The answer is, honestly, no. With a slightly more positive motivation (I want change, rather than I must change to survive), I enrolled in some courses – online certification stuff, nothing fancy – to prove that I have the skills that I know I have, and updated my resume.
All the while, I found my motivation for writing plummet. I stopped reading fiction. I stopped sending queries. I had to ask myself: why do I still write?
I started writing again over the past couple of weeks, really, by realizing two things. First, my writing break was natural, and expected. It’s your basic Maslow’s Hierarchy: I need to feel secure and to have my physical needs met before I can worry about self-actualization and other higher-order needs. I should 1) not read into the break any sign that I’m not meant to or not cut out for writing, and 2) should give myself some grace for acting like a human. Second, I write because it brings me joy. Even when I wasn’t writing, my thoughts drifted back to my story often… and, I couldn’t stop myself from being creative altogether. I dusted off and tinkered with old TTRPG campaign and miscellaneous short story ideas while my current manuscript stalled. Even if I never publish another thing in my life, I will continue writing. I love stories. They live in my heart and seep into my thoughts.
I’ve also not entirely stopped reading, but the material is not of the sort that fits well with this speculative fiction blog. If you’re at all politically engaged in the U.S., I recommend How Civil Wars Start (and How to Stop Them) by Barbara F. Walter. It is harrowing, authentic, and hopefully not prophetic. On what could not possibly be a more different note, I spent about 3 weeks reading comic books. Seriously, both DC and Marvel have apps now. You can read literally everything they’ve ever published on your phone for a subscription. I thoroughly enjoyed the two most recent Justice League Dark runs, which pointed me to a true delight, Constantine. In each of those series, I enjoyed the fact that the heroes were only slightly superhuman, or, at least, had narrowly defined powers. It forced them to solve problems creatively, rather than by just being super.
But, I digress.
If you’ve read this far… seriously, what are you doing here? Just kidding. Thank you, sincerely. I hope a little rambling authenticity inspires or encourages you to cut yourself some slack and accept that sometimes, you need to focus on life, yourself, and silly comic books.
Happy reading, folks.