A few days after I was fired, an ex-coworker I was just beginning to get to know and like reached out to me on LinkedIn:
It was a pleasure working with you – even if for a weirdly short time. I hope things are OK / wonderful and you don’t feel crappy about it.
I saw you’ve updated LinkedIn w/ your blog. No surprise, you’re a talented writer. I should have guessed (creative writing degree).
The day I was let go, we had started a conversation in the cafeteria and later, moved it to HipChat, the buggy company chat system. He was midway through typing a joke when a window popped up reminding me of my meeting with Janis the EA. She was waiting for me in office seven, a glass Samarra.
“Brb,” I typed.
Some days after his LinkedIn message, we met for coffee. He was thinking about starting a blog of his own – focused on testing out new tech – and asked if I had any tips for him.
“Just start,” I said.
Blogs were meant to be organic. The best ones had a focus – it was clear those did better in the long run – but for the most part, the nature of the medium is to foster both experimentation and growth. I advised him not to overthink it too much, that blogs could be both eternal (unless you took it down or someone screenshot something regrettable) and temporary (even if you left it up, a trillion other websites will take your readers’ attentions away).
A few weeks later he shared a draft of his first post and I helped trim it down. He was a good writer, already knew his way around his voice and had a much better-looking website. But he had a full-time job too. After that first post I didn’t hear anything from him for a long time.
But I didn’t anymore and had my own writing to focus on, not to mention trips to look forward to and the holidays. But Time, that sneaky bitch, she flies.
January leapt ahead to March and around the time I really applied the gas to my job hunting efforts, I stopped writing. As you, oh cherished and hopefully not-too-disappointed blog reader, have probably noticed.
I stopped writing because I was spending hours on the computer already, job-hunting because it was my job. On top of that, I got a handful of smaller jobs by picking up a few freelance clients that helped me build a somewhat marketable writing portfolio to attract bigger fish. I also stopped posting on Instagram and Facebook, not because I wasn’t doing fun things, but because I feared each minute I spent posting online advertised a minute I wasn’t applying for jobs. Though that doesn’t mean I stopped scrolling and scrolling, liking and not liking all the things people around me seemed to be doing. Making a living and all that jazz.
Anyway, this isn’t meant to be a long depressing slog through my job-hunting efforts, which are still ongoing. I am getting interviews and have a decent roster of freelance clients, but the prey – job, book deal, whichever comes first – is yet to be captured. But in the meantime, all that other stuff about being tired and not in the mood to write or blog –
Probably the most unprofessional stuff I’ve ever said.
Tonight, Tom and I watched a bit of TV before he turned it off.
“What do you want to do now?”
“We could read,” he said.
I didn’t feel like reading. Not a book anyway. I went online and putzed around on my WordPress reader feed when I came across a Tech Crunch article that reminded me of my old coworker. I went to his website and was happy to see he’d made some progress: two more posts were published in March, complete with media and strong writing. But I wondered why he hadn’t written more.
I thought back to our conversation. I really have no excuse.
There have been hundreds of times in my past I didn’t feel like writing and I wouldn’t. Most recently, I’d go to bed feeling more tired yet anxious than usual. I’d have dreams in vivid color: Jerry Seinfeld sitting with me atop the Hoover Dam, looking down at dolphins, for instance. I’d wake up, feeling like I hadn’t really done anything and apply to more jobs, watch more TV (“Seinfeld,” obviously) and go to bed feeling the exact same way only to wake up and start running on the same hamster wheel.
I opened a new window and blew the dust off my blog, remembering my own advice. It’s been a month since I’ve last written. It’s a blog. Just start again.