My day job is over. I don’t have to get up early, shower, dress, scarf down a toaster waffle and race to work only to SIT and wait for work orders to come in. Many times I had work orders from the previous day(s), but not always. The days when mornings brought free time were the worst. Hurrying in to work only to SIT, check mail, file, run software updates, etc., seemed a waste of a perfectly good life. I longed to be home reading the paper, rising slowly, eating when I was hungry and feeling free to work on my own art. I have that now, but evidently I haven’t stopped needing some rest (I retired early because of stress), because I have never duplicated the work effort at home that I employed at my job.
I have never been a very energetic person, so a job seemed a good idea. Some structure, some money, some encouragement (not to get fired) and some direction were all helpful in developing good work habits. Even when I was stressed, sleepy, impatient, anxious, sick, or tired, I could do my job. There was no small sense of satisfaction in this. I felt productive, useful, normal. But I didn’t manage the stress of office culture well. I think I am a lone wolf. I crave company, but not just any company. I’d rather be alone than with people I don’t like/don’t like me.
Now that I work from home, my work effort has been so up and down I feel like I am two different people. Maybe a multiple personality—one eager and brimming with ideas, the other thinks I must have been manic when I wrote them all down. More likely I’m just a woman with pain and fatigue from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, with a scathing lumbar radiculopathy, and a slowly recovering broken ankle, that combine to slow my work effort to short spurts that I pay for by having to rest for several days afterwards. And winter slows me down, causes me to overeat carbs, and feels like it will never end. Summer makes me use the day—time enough to rest and relax in the morning, and work 3-4 hours in my studio then have the entire sunny evening left.
So how do I learn how to work without a work order? Since leaving “work”, I have been motivated mostly by inspiration. When I get out my journals and go through my creative ideas lists, I eventually get excited and one will call out to me more than the others. In fact, it usually will compel me to work feverishly until it’s done. The problem with this method is there is nothing that compels me to get out my journals when I am distracted by life, newspapers, television, the internet, or my golden retrievers. And part of the reason I’m distracted is the loneliness of working from home. These diversions are company after all, however meager.
I don’t know what the answer is except to try to work a little each day, whether I feel like it or not. Or maybe I shouldn’t always confine my work to my studio (away from these diversions and the company they provide). Maybe the studio feels like another cubicle to me.