I just returned from a wonderfully relaxing Florida vacation. Although, I use the word “vacation” loosely because now that I’m “retired” from full-time teaching to “write” full-time, my holidays seem like less of a break from things than they used to. I always considered it a heinous crime to have an easy life. And now I am that person!
Believe it or not, throughout junior high, high school, and college I was always an over-scheduler. A crazy Type-A energetic freak of nature, who had to be doing something important and meaningful every single minute of the day. When I graduated college and became a “real” grown-up, I was completely obsessed with planning my future of saving the world in every way humanly possible. Even the year I took off between undergrad and medical school, which was supposed to be my take a break from the grind-travel and relax year, became a random frenzy of philanthropy work through the jungles of Mexico and the forests of Vermont. Not one minute was wasted lounging or playing. After all, I had an entire world to save!
Fast-forward to 2008. Ever since I quit full-time teaching to begin my quest for YA novel publication, I’ve had nothing but free time. True, I do spend hours upon hours reading, writing, researching, re-writing, critiquing, revising, revising, and revising. But the difference now is that I have all the time in the world, and can make up any schedule I want to. Unfortunately, as a result I’ve become less productive and way more slothful. Of course, in my defense, the life of a writer is inherently idle, so until somebody invents a portable computer screen I can attach to my forehead and a keyboard I can operate with eye movements, I’m stuck sitting on my growing-wider-and-more-numb-by-the-day butt.
It’s a paradox, this slacker lifestyle. One the one hand, I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been. True story…I had pneumonia six times during med school and teaching combined. Like, antibiotic-resistant-I’m-on-my-deathbed pneumonia. I haven’t suffered so much as a sniffle since I quit. I’m not chronically sleep deprived anymore, so the under eye bags and dark circles have vanished. I have time to run outside every single day, so I’ve shed my pale-green skin color and exchanged my skeletal, lack of muscle tone physique for a pleasantly tanned and plump version.
On the other hand, at the end of the day I often feel, well, slackerish. Like I’ve accomplished nothing, gained nothing, and given nothing to society. I’m not complaining. Again, I’m extraordinarily happy. However, I do battle this love/hate relationship with the slack-life on a daily basis. And I feel guilty for failing to save the world.
Funny thing is that I’m guessing when I do publish my novels, become rich and famous, and soar to unfathomable literary heights, I’ll still feel a bit like a slacker. Because, really, it’s bizarre to think I'll be paid for doing something insanely fun that I love so much. That I can do in my pajamas. Late at night. While blasting Maroon 5 music. And eating chocolate covered pretzels. I mean, really. It’s criminal, isn’t it?