Working for Yourself: Month Five (Breathe)

{End of book editing, with the painting, bought with book money, by Lily Stockman}

When last we met, talking about self-employment, I had just turned in the first half of my book. I was a ball of not-breathing, a doing, doing, doing machine. Now, the book is turned in, and I’m writing from a cafe in San Francisco’s North Beach. Life feels easier.

Early in May, I spent a week pounding out all of the final content for my book. Then I printed it out in draft, and went to Mexico. This might have been the single smartest decision I made this year. You see, self employment is amazing in a lot of ways, but it’s work that never stops. There is always one more post you can write, one more invoice you need to send, one more business initiative you could launch, one more design tweak you could make, 500 emails that you probably should find time to respond to (achem). And I, my friends, am a super do-er (but we’ll get to that). So for me to stay sane as a self-employed person, it turns out that I need at least three vacations a year (even if they are only vacations from the screen). I need to forcibly unplug, spend time with my husband, spend time writing in my journal (about business development half the time, honestly), I need perspective. And while you might not be able to feel the warm, blue, salt water of the Yucatan coast when you read the APW book, it will be there. That week of perspective, and of editing by the pool proved crucial for me seeing the book for what it was. It also proved crucial for me seeing my life for what it was.

{Editing the book in Mexico. Lots of this text has been changed since!}

I came back from that week away, feeling like I could breathe, feeling like I was allowed to breathe. Things felt easier. I finished the book. Things continued to feel easier. Suddenly I realized that it had been a hard few months, quitting my job, getting used to self employment, writing a book. Over the course of this year, I haven’t allowed myself to think that things were hard, because I had gotten exactly what I wanted. So how dare I complain, even to myself, right? But in retrospect, adjusting to a new life, while writing a 60,000 word book in four and a half months? That was decidedly tricky. But it has the upside of making life post-book feel simple. You mean I only have to run this one (admittedly rather large) website? That’s IT? Well, excuse me while I juggle, and also clean the house, and nap.

Which is, of course, exactly what happened. I’d heard that finishing a book was heartbreaking. Like it would feel like a tremendous loss, and I’d mourn for it. And so I prepared. I got ready to cry, and to feel lost for awhile. But instead, I’ve felt giddy… and swamped. I have a tremendous ability to fill my time, to launch new projects (getting back to me being a super-doer). I am the queen of forward motion. So while just two weeks after finishing the book, I already feel like I need another break, I’m far from devastated. I’m delighted. I’m in action. I’m in my element.

{Delightfully (?) out of focus picture from the night the book was finished. Tequila!}

Postscript: A few hours after I finished this post, I had a mild panic attack. And after getting over the idea that I was having seizure (M: My head hurts! It hurts! Am I dying? D: That’s a headache. You never have them, but it’s normal. M: WHY? D: Tension. M: Ahhhhgghhh!), I realized, “Ah. This is the other shoe dropping.” Which was oddly calming, actually. I was, after all, expecting some sort of post-book fireworks.

You see, I was stressed by A. the realization that the book was done, and I still had a lot of work (confusing). And B. that I wanted to execute all of the last five months of ideas for APW in one week, and couldn’t (overwhelming, but explains A).

So, onwards, upwards. The next chapter for APW, here we come. One day at a time.

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