My good friend and I sometimes meet at the main library on Saturdays to work on our individual creative projects. This past weekend, I laid out five stacks of paper on the table. Each stack represented a project I’m currently working on. I had 1.) an interview about my bankruptcy, 2.) the final statement I need to write for a possible side gig, 3.) my portion of a grant I’m helping to write, 4.) a call for abstracts from a local conference, and 5.) an interview about this website. In that pile of papers, a variety of identities were represented. There was 1.) the personal finance blogger, 2.) the local arts volunteer, 3.) the academic, and 4.) the creative writer, because the side gig is about creative writing.
My friend looked at the stack and said, “That’s a lot. I mean, they’re all good and important, but there’s a lot there.”
Yet, I wouldn’t want to let any one of them go.
When the year started, I set my sights on two things: a 10k emergency fund and freelance writing work. Within one month, I was behind on writing projects and I’d stopped pitching. As a matter of fact, I was behind on a lot of things. It is not a good feeling. The whole reason I wanted to focus on a 10k emergency fund and freelance writing work was because I wanted to MOVE THE DIAL in each area of my life.
Before I started my debt payoff project, I saved $5,000 in an emergency fund. I did not let the fund dip below that line for the entire time I was paying off debt. Now that I’m a year free from my student loan debt, I wanted to boost that fund. Since I’m not paying off student loans now, you’d think I could shove more money into that savings account. But it wasn’t happening. I wanted to make it happen.
One way I thought I could make it happen was to take on freelance writing work again. But, my docket is so full with regular work and volunteer projects and writing on this website that writing other stuff always gets set on the back burner.
Also sitting on that back burner? My memoir.
I’ve been sitting on this memoir idea for several years. I have first lines for chapters and a couple of possible arcs. I pitched it at a conference in 2015 and got good feedback. Then, I decided to write a collection of essays first. Which I didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t finish.I’m not sure why, but it’s an area of my life in which I want to move the dial. I want to give it some attention and see some progress. Like the emergency fund.
Like my health and wellbeing.
I started taking some dance classes. After I quit sugar, I knew I’d eventually have to find some sort of exercise. But, I put it off. I was busy earning money and not writing! Right now, I’m making it to one dance class a week. That’s fine. It’s good. But it doesn’t move the dial. I’m not suddenly seeing a new body. I am suddenly feeling 40 year old knees.
I struggle with the juggle of all the things on my plate. I remind myself that I have exactly the same number of hours in my day as Beyonce. Yet, I’m not really moving an dials. I’m touching a lot of them, but they stay on the same setting. That’s not progress.
It’s good, old-fashioned stuckness.
So, like the Type A, go-getter that so many of we personal finance bloggers seem to be, I made a plan. I’m not dropping any of the items on my list. I am rethinking how the dial has to move.
I wanted 10k in an emergency fund ASAP. Well, my federal tax return arrived and bumped me almost to my goal. I’m going to take a sliver of that and pay for a memoir course. It falls between busy times in my work life, so it seems like the time to take it. It’s through the same organization that hosted the conference where I pitched the memoir in 2015. It feels strange to currently be in consideration to teach a creative writing class while also looking to take one, but hey. I’m looking for progress, and I love to find ways to grow.
Instead of focusing on freelance writing, I’m going to focus on sending out work as I write it and building the word count of this memoir. My side hustle will be teaching the creative writing course, if I’m selected. (Cross your fingers, please.) I’m suited for that type of work. It’s what I do. And I wouldn’t have to worry about sending out invoices or writing articles I’m not excited about. I can make extra money and focus on my essays. I would consider that a dial moved.
As for fitness, the treadmill is calling to me. There’s one at work and I should just use it already. It’s not exciting, but it could be a good place to think through pieces of the memoir. Dance class is fun, and I might keep it once a week. Maybe. It’s also kinda costly. So, we’ll see.
And then, there’s this site. It’s hard to define. Is it about writing? Money? My life? Ambition? Personal growth? Yes. Yes answers all of those questions. But, I can’t touch that dial right now. I can simply tell you that I’ve got a lot of dials to move. Maybe too many. But I have exactly as many hours in the day as Beyonce. I can do this. You can, too.