Anchors Away

My tagline for this blog is “a full-time librarian and part-time writer trying to do this the other way around.”  One of the main reasons that I set up this site was to motivate and inspire myself to actually write much more often than I had previously.   All my life I’ve played around at writing but have only recently been pursuing it with any degree of vigor.  I would love to make a living at doing this but, based on the amount of work I’ve done thus far and on all of the literature that I’ve been reading, I realize that this is highly unlikely.  Nevertheless, I intend to continue pursuing it. 

The other half of the tagline refers to my “day job”.  I am a professional librarian.  I’ve worked in libraries in a variety of capacities for 13 years.  I am also the proud recipient of a master’s degree in library science and have even had professional articles published in the field.  I’ve generally enjoyed my work, bad days and all.  Coming out of library school, I had a real passion for the work and for the real difference a librarian, and libraries, make in the lives of actual people.  I’ve grown out of that initial zeal but I still believe in the profession.  However, over the past couple of years, I’ve really begun to question whether or not I wish to continue as a librarian.

Part of this sprang from a very tumultuous period I weathered beginning in 2007.  I often refer to it as my “long dark tea time of the soul”, borrowing the phrase from the late, great Douglas Adams.  I questioned the career choices I made, the choices I was prepared to make, and (frankly) my overall worth as a librarian, and as a person.  As I said, times were dark.  But the evaluation was necessary.  As a librarian, and as a person, I was used to finding answers for other people.  I never stopped to ask them of myself.  During the period I made my initial forays in professional writing.  I even managed to produce a couple of articles for an award-winning gaming magazine.  I was working part-time and had ample opportunity to really open the flood gates as far as writing output.

Now I could kick myself.  I frittered a real opportunity away.  I spent far too much time watching old movies, playing video games, or sitting on the couch commiserating on my lot in life with my indifferent cat.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue doing library work and I certainly liked the idea of being a writer.  I just couldn’t get motivated to get my rear off the couch and hands (and heart) on a keyboard.  Eventually an opportunity to work full-time again in a library came along and I decided to take it.  The money was good (far better than part-time money) and I really didn’t know what else to do with myself. 

I’ve been back on the job for a year and half now and it’s been…okay.  The pay and security is definitely nice and the environment is very low-key.  My co-workers are nice but we don’t have a lot in common other than work.  The work itself is pretty easy and there are a few oppotunities for some creativity, which isn’t always the case in my line of work.  Most importantly, I feel like I’m appreciated here for what I bring to the job…which also isn’t always the case in my line work. 

Now, I think I’m starting to get the runnin’ blues.  Despite all the good things that come with my job, I’m starting to question my place once again.  It’s a good job in my chosen profession–and I don’t want to be there.  I’m marking time.  Now that I’ve started writing semi-regularly, I keep thinking of my job as something to get through until I can get home.  Luckily, I’m able to do some of my writing while in my office…which is a big incentive to staying put.  Nevertheless, I grow increasingly dissatisfied with the arrangement. 

Much like the proverbial economist, there is the other hand.  It is all well-and-good to chase my dreams but I’m an American, which means I have debts to pay.  Unfortunately, banks don’t generally deal in happiness…there’s no interest in it.  As I’ve begun to look more seriously at writing professionally, I can’t realistically pursue it as the answer to my dilemma.  I may not have the passion for librarianship I once had, but leaving it to write just isn’t a smart thing to do.  At least, not right now.  And, while we’re being cold, hard realists, maybe not ever.

Until recently I had a blog on my blogroll entitled “Anchored Authors”.  The focus of the site was on writers in my same situation.  They are anchored to a day job and write on the side.  Sometimes the anchor is weighing them down, a have-to job to support their writing habit.  In other cases it’s a more positive situation…the writer is firmly grounded and able to indulge in whatever projects they desire.  I really related to the site and its focus.  Unfortunately it has been “deleted” by the author and is no longer available. 

Right now I feel like that anchor is hanging around my neck, dragging the ground and weighing me down.  I go to work, but I’m not really there.  My chosen career is becoming something for me to endure, to get through, so that I can do…something.  I haven’t yet discovered what.  This may not be the best attitude; I’d probably be happier if I could be more mentally and emotionally “present” at work.  I know from experience that this can only happen if I actively choose to do so.  True motivation is internal, not external, after all.  I just can’t seem to shake the weight of the disconnect between my dreams and my reality.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to seek the answer to my question the only ways I know how.

I work.  I dream.  I love.  I observe.  I think.  I endure.  And I write.

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About Shedrick

I am a professional librarian and a part-time writer that's working to do that the other way around. I currently live in North Texas in the lovely city of Denton (“The Home of Happiness“) with my lovely wife and the obligatory demon-spawn cats. When not writing, gaming, or watching cheezy kung-fu flicks, I can sometimes be found in a pub (or the American equivalent) enjoying a fine brew.
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4 Responses to Anchors Away

  1. Chandra says:

    Wow Shedrick…thanks for posting this.

    I totally know what you are going through and I don’t say that lightly. I wish I had some sage advice or $100k to give you. Being unanchored is pretty hungry making at times, but I know Amy will support you (and your dreams) no matter what 🙂

  2. Shedrick says:

    Thanks for the comments! I really appreciate the support. And you’re absolutely right about Amy…I don’t know what I’d do without her indulgence and support.

  3. Scot says:

    Nice post … very introspective (even painfully so). Please know that you’re not alone. Our stories are different, but I think we have common ground.

    After 8 yrs at Lockheed, I’m very fortunate to still have the zeal for my work that I had from the beginning. I love the work I do, I love the people with whom I do it, and I wouldn’t lightly consider giving any of that up.

    However, as in you, a fire burns for the writing. I’ve never been able to organize myself sufficiently to get my thoughts into any sort of coherent structure, and it seems that I never have the time to sit quietly and let the juices flow … but the fire burns nonetheless. I’d be interested in keeping up with your writing. Perhaps seeing you progress will further inspire me to get my mental machinery out of neutral.

    • Shedrick says:

      Since I’ve started delving deeper writing-wise I keep coming across a lot of similar material about the writers and it seems we all have the same problems: paranoia, self-doubt, motivation issues, etc. This might be why the sterotypical writer usually drinks! I’ve seen myself in in the struggles of others and, while I don’t wish hardship on anyone, it helps to see I’m not alone. If somebody sees the same in what little bit I’m doing, then maybe they’ll keep chipping away as well.

      Thank you very much commenting and even more for reading 🙂

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