Learning To Get On With It

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So a few weeks ago (more like a month, oops) I wrote about how I was quitting my job and starting a new life as a freelance writer and translator. I’ve had about four weeks of it now and I’ve already learned some important lessons along the way. Aside from the fact that admin sucks and that social media is some sort of evil, soul-sucking vortex just waiting to rob me of half my waking hours, I’d say the most important lesson I’ve learned is the following:

Nothing ever happens like you want it to.

Don’t get me wrong – that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it can turn out even better than you thought it would. Sometimes, however, life kicks you in the knee (you can see where this is going, right?) and sends you tumbling to the floor, leaving you to pick up the pieces. Somehow.

This isn’t going to be some sort of pity piece, I promise. I’ll do a short list of the interesting challenges I’ve been facing these past few weeks to give you some context and then move on:

  • I found out last week I have patellar tracking disorder in my left knee. My kneecap scrapes from side to side when I walk, wearing down the surrounding bone and cartilage. That’s why it hurts so much.
  • My cats have ringworm (it’s a mushroom, not a worm, to those lucky enough never to have encountered it). Trying to keep the flat clean (and kill the ringworm) while injured is not easy. It also means that I’ve put all invitations and dinner parties on hold for a while. Bye-bye social life. 😦
  • The tax people didn’t do their job last year and now they want money. Lots of it.

OK, that’s done. Phew. So now I’m going to list three ways in which I’m lucky to counter all of that negativity:

  • None of my problems have anything to do with my actual work. That’s going pretty great. Despite the lure of the internet, I’m getting my work done. I could probably do more, but as this is the first month, I’m just enjoying getting used to it and finding my own pace.
  • Cats, even ones recovering from ringworm, are really cute. The little one farts a lot, unfortunately, but she gives me the best kitten hugs in the world. The big one just looks on condescendingly, as he always does. Here they are in all their glory:
Sushi and Matcha - Wonderkitties

Sushi and Matcha

  • I’m still able to walk. This sounds stupid, until you injure your knee and then everything seems off limits to you. You can’t jump, you can’t run, you can’t dance… I actually cried in front of a video of people dancing, the other day, simply because I couldn’t do it anymore. But I can walk. Some people out there can’t and never will be able to walk again. They get on with it. So will I.

A few months ago, when I made the decision to make my writing-dream happen, I had this grand vision of what my new life would be like. I would get up early, go for a run, have a healthy breakfast, work for a bit, have a healthy lunch when I felt hungry, work some more, do some mid-afternoon sports class, work on my own private writing projects, make a fantastic gourmet (but healthy) dinner for me and the hubs and manage to relax and read before bedtime.

Pff. Yeah.

Let me tell you something. That perfect life will never happen all at once (or at all). It’s impossible, because all those changes are exhausting. The brain and body simply can’t cope. It already feels like there are a million new things happening, so it’s probably best to go easy on yourself at first if you’re looking to make some changes. Start small, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Here’s how I’m starting small:

Eating: I’m trying to be healthy (doc told me I needed to lose weight to relieve my joints and help my knee heal) but sometimes I succumb to the call of ice cream or pasta. Instead of feeling all guilty about it, I let those relapses happen but try and minimize them as much as possible: weighing out the pasta, choosing only one scoop of ice cream, not using any sauce on my dinner. It’s a slow but sure process and I do feel better than I did before. Success.

Exercising: I’ve regressed so much in this area it’s impossible to call it an improvement, so I’m trying to focus on the things I CAN do, which are few and far between at the moment. I go for walks. That’s about it. But I try and enjoy those walks as much as possible. They get me out of the house at least. My knee hurts (and now my other one does too, from the strain of not putting too much weight on the first one) but to hell with it.

Today, a conversation between my knees:

Miss Left Knee: It hurts. Are we there yet?

Miss Right Knee: stop swayin’ your damn patella and keep movin’!

Yeah, Miss Right Knee is a sassy badass. That or I watch too much Orange is the New Black.

Writing: all those dreams of hammering out my own novel (instead of writing them for other people) haven’t exactly blossomed so far. By the time I’m done with the work for my clients, I’m usually pretty tired and can think of nothing better to do than either numb my mind by reading useless stuff on the Internet, or move away from the computer altogether (which is preferable). When I think of what I want to write, my mind slams into a brick wall. What’s my message? What’s my angle? What do I want to make people feel when they read my books?

And then, most important of all, how do I turn all that into an awesome story?

I really, really have no idea. My brain feels paralysed. It’s not fun.

So today I wrote this article, instead. Because I want to be living the dream, and in my dream I write articles every week for my blog. Starting with this one. Small steps, people. 🙂

All in all, there’s only really one way to do it if you want to succeed: take your goals and start working on them, one teeny tiny bit at a time. You may not feel like you’re progressing, so it’s important to stop and take stock once in a while. What are you doing now that you weren’t doing a year, a month or ever a week ago? How has your life improved?

You may not be exactly where you want to be (and life may be throwing you one hurdle after another), but you’re all those little steps closer. Good on you. Keep going. You’ll get there.

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6 thoughts on “Learning To Get On With It

  1. I know the feeling about making your own schedule–it can be challenging!! Good that you’re looking at things in a positive light though. (Yes, ringworm is the worst!! But the kitties are so cute, you can’t stay mad!) I’m interested to know what freelance projects you’re working on and where you found them? Re: your personal project, I know it can be hard to motivate yourself after working all day! But if you like your idea, it will find a way spill forth 😉

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    • Thanks Dani! I’m doing some freelancing work for my old company as well as ghostwriting short romance novels (yeah, I remember that conversation we had about ghostwriting all those years ago… never been so happy to eat my words!). I found that on http://www.upwork.com. It’s a good platform that offers a fairly secure payment system.

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  2. I’m sorry to hear about your knee. I hope it heals soon & you can get back to doing what you want to be doing again. It’s really important to keep focusing on the positives and taking stock of what you Have achieved so far – which is a lot! I can totally relate to struggling with the novel coming to fruition. In the last year I have managed to get my admin job down to part time, which gives me one or two days a week for freelance work or my own writing. I find it easier in some ways to work on my blog, as posts are finite and also there’s the gratification of immediate publication and feedback. During the slow process of writing a novel a lot of feelings have time to circulate: ‘will anyone be interested in what I’ve written?’, ‘when is it ever going to see the light of day?’ and those bits that seemed so good before now seem like they all need rewriting when you read them again.

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    • Thanks for your message! Yep it’s difficult. Blogging and poetry or short sory writing seem easier, but I really do want to write in novel-form in the long run. I think I just need to concentrate on one idea and see it through.

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  3. Hi Zoe, it’s great to hear that you are tackling the challenge of being an independent writer and translator. A brave, but probably also rewarding move. I wish you all the best and I hope you keep writing your Mancer story. I absolutely love the first few chapters. All the best, Vivette

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