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Oct 25, 2010

How Not to Juggle Multiple Responsibilities

The baby was sick last night (=no sleep) and it's a gray, rainy day. Result: depression.

There's an online service to track your mood I belong to called Moodscope. My only problem is that I only feel motivated to use it when, as now, my mood suddenly dips low. When I'm happy, I don't bother. As a result, the picture of my "average" mood is skewed.

I awoke to a message I had to redo my cover. In fact, I ended up having to redo the interior as well. I don't think it looks as good. But that may be just because I'm depressed. I've learned not to trust my own self-evaluations when I'm depressed. I can't even stand to look at my blog right now. It's so ugly I just want to delete the whole thing. (I won't.) I'm also experiencing "buyer's remorse" or, in this case, "self publisher's remorse" where I wish I had never put my book out there because I will only humiliate myself in public, blah yada blah. I won't bore you with my negative interior monologue; I'm sure any of you who have ever been depressed know exactly what I am talking about.

I attended a talk the other day for grad students. The panel of professors spent the whole time predicting that most of us wouldn't find tenure track positions at prestigious universities. The only chance in hell we had was to work our tails off 80 hours a week, schmoozing and publishing, building our academic platform. After that, they tried to assure us that if some of us decided we didn't want to be tenured professors at prestigious universities -- if we were content being professors at four year colleges, or administrators, or gdforbidit, business professionals -- that was PERFECTLY FINE.... after all, only a highly elite cadre of very special people were cut out to make it at the pinnacle of academia. We shouldn't feel bad if we couldn't hack it.

Riiiiiiiiiight. Thanks for that. I feel better now.

Anyway, they were absolutely right about the 80 hr work week. I think this is true for pretty much any highly competitive profession -- doctor, lawyer, entrepreneur. Most people probably wouldn't include "novelist" on that list, but I would. I think to excel at writing, you have to put time and sweat into it.

If someone were trying to do law school and med school at the same time, the rest of the world would rightly regard this as insane. I realize I am basically trying to do the same thing, although it is unlikely to be regarded as such by the rest of the world, which doesn't respect liberal arts PhDs or novelists as much as lawyers and doctors.

There are some superpeople out there who can do both with aplomb. I'm not one. I just end up doing both...poorly.

The logical thing would be to drop one and focus. But I feel like, even though I'm not as successful as I need I am more productive when I keep busy than when I'm less busy. So let's say that I accomplish 80 units of work on Endeavor A and 0 units of work on Endeavor B when I focus on just one thing. I only accomplish 60 units of work on Endeavor A when I split my focus. But I also accomplish 60 units of work on Endeavor B, so my total accomplishment is 120 units of work, much more than 80. The downside is that 60 units of work is not enough to earn a profit in either activity. So though I've invested more effort, I end up with squat all to show for it.

Speaking of squat all, what I should be doing is arranging a blog tour to promote my book. But I can't because I have to work on school stuff. I have another paper to write, and I haven't done any of the reading. I shouldn't even have been writing this blog post. Although now that I have, I feel a little less depressed. Thanks for listening, blog therapist.


Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

That'll be five cents, please. ;)

Seriously, take it easy on yourself. Motherhood and grad school and writing are all tough enough independently; combining them is even more difficult. But I understand what you mean by being more productive by working on multiple things. But if there are tasks you can delegate to someone else, go ahead and do so. :hug:

C. N. Nevets said...

Hang in there, Tara. I don't have advice for you since I struggle with pretty much different faces on the same things. All I can say is that, knowing how hard it is to see from the inside when you're depressed, that from out here you have lots to be proud of and lots to show for your work.

And you have us to cheer you on and support you!

So good luck with the school work right now, and good luck with the writing when you take it up. And when you get fed up and need to rail against the universe, that's part of what we're here for.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Oh, Tara, you have so much on your plate. I do, too. I've been suffering from the self-publishing blues for weeks and weeks now, since, you know, I don't sell many copies anymore at all. It pretty much sucks, even with a book deal in the future. It still sucks.

But I vaguely remember you telling me you didn't care too much about selling copies - you were just doing this to get it out there, and well, it's out there now. The book will still be there in a few months. Wait for reviews and suck, and then do a blog tour. I'd be happy to host you over at my blog, and you know I'm going to feature you anyway.

You're doing beautifully, and I wish you the best with school. I can't IMAGINE doing THAT and kids AND self-publishing a book. Please oh PLEASE don't be too hard on yourself. One person is only capable of so much.

I'm here if you need, in the comments and in email. :) *HUGS*

Michelle D. Argyle said...

I meant and SUCH, not suck. Ignore my terribly awful typos.

Mary Mary said...

I just wanted to let you know that I feel your pain when it comes to grad school. I remember those same lectures about little to no opportunity when it comes to a career as a tenure-track professor with a liberal arts degree. Those professors don't really care about their students, they only care about what their CV says when they get to list your thesis or the fact that they were on your committee, no matter how uninvolved they may have been in you attaining that degree.

What a load, is what I say! I'm so glad those years are behind me! But chin up! You'll do well if you just stick in there.

Tara Maya said...

Thank you all. It means more than I can say to see your words of encouragement.

Jai Joshi said...

Anything that's truly worth doing is never easy. That's how we know it's worth it.

I'm sorry that the baby was sick. I hope things get better real soon.