It’s my last day as a free man today.
Next week, I return to the salt mines – a workaday position with a government agency. I’ve got challenges set out for myself: how do I maintain the creativity and productivity I’ve grown over the past three months? How do I keep my stress low in the face of old world ideals and br0k3N thinking?
It’s fair to say I’m not jumping with enthusiasm to re-enter that particular battlefield. It’s not that I can’t make good, sound, incremental improvements. It’s that each day is a re-play of the last, and back when I was a kid looking up at the stars and wanting to be an astronaut, this isn’t quite how I figured it’d all play out.
Them’s the breaks. They pay me well and they’re good people. That’s probably enough for now.
The good news is what I’ve managed to get out of my sabbatical. It’d been a blast, and my real challenge for the next wee while is to try and work out how I can make this a part of life – that is, either 3 months off a year, or reducing the number of days a week I work, whatever. Pursuing your own goals and personal happiness, even at a significant financial cost, is worth it – I stand by it, and would do it again. Take note, Internet: I am changed.
I’ve also learned what an actual days’ hard work looks like – what you can get done without interruptions, when you’re empowered to complete a task. It’s not without its challenges and pitfalls and time management, but it resets the picture of what good looks like. I know what good looks like now, and I can tell you that it’s nothing like what a usual working day looks like in the office of the G Men. That might come across as harsh, but it’s not a criticism: what I’d like to do is to bring the knowledge I’ve eked out here back into the work place, using it as a sort of rising tide that lifts all boats. Anytime you find a problem, it’s really an opportunity (here, to increase the actual good work you do and lower your stress and pressure at the same time).
My internal barometer has also been reset in terms of fact and fiction, lies and truth. I use words differently now, and have rubbed away some of the daily falsehoods I carried around with me to make life easier in my day job. I’m not quite sure what it’s going to be like when I get Back There™, but I’m expecting culture shock: a lot like landing on Mars, and not understanding or appreciating the local customs or traditions. Its another opportunity, of course – one where we can all be a bit more honest with ourselves.
The gift I’ve got from all of this time for me is not just the completion of Night’s Favour, though. It’s really about how much I enjoy writing. I still don’t have a good understanding of whether I’m good at it or not, but that’s less important than the practice of it. I’d like to be good enough so that the stories I have to tell are able to be read by people – more, that people want to read them. If I can get to there, I’ll be happy enough.