All the Things I Just Don’t Know

The AWP conference (see the last three entries) was a real jolt to me—in a good way. I felt inspired and energetic, after recovering from my physical exhaustion of course.

But Monday morning, my first day back at work, was also a jolt. I had a nightmare early in the morning that I was about to be fired. On the subway ride in, a sense of dread grew with each block we moved above 34th Street. Then I got there and it turned out that my premonitory dream wasn’t so far off the mark—oh, my imagination had expanded and exaggerated (I am dramatic even when I sleep), but something bad did happen. I found out I didn’t catch a big mistake, and when your job is only and solely to catch everyone’s mistakes and never make mistakes of your own, well, personally, I don’t think there’s a worse thing that could happen. Sometimes, when you’re questioning what you should be doing with your life, a thing like this can feel really symbolic. I don’t know why, or what it means, I just knows it does.

I’ve also been moving slowly ahead on my work-for-hire novel and as I do I was asked if I wanted to write the next two. I need to answer. I sat staring at the message all last night. Technically this could be a way to freelance full-time, but it wouldn’t be enough, not with our expenses and the lifestyle I’ve gotten myself used to, or even a scaled-down version of it. I’d need more assignments on top of this to make it possible… We’d have to move out of Manhattan for sure, and we just mailed in the lease renewal. We’d have to leave New York City entirely, I think, and go somewhere cheaper. My mother joked that we could live in her shed. If that shed were livable, maybe we’d be having a real conversation about this. I don’t know.

Also, it should be said that this book is a struggle for me to write because it is so very unlike me. For me, it’s like writing in the fantasy genre to write believable happy, sporty, tanned people. It’s a stretch. Could I write three of these books in a row? I don’t know.

A lot of “I don’t knows” right now.

Plus, I have my own novel to work on, I do know that.

But today is Chinese New Year—the Year of the Rat—and I’ve got my lucky red sweater on. I am trying to trust my intuition. And my intuition, though it likes to send me paranoid nightmares while I’m sleeping, based on truth or not, I think it’s saying to wait. I think? I think it’s saying to give my own novel a shot, once this work-for-hire novel is finished, I think maybe I don’t know but maybe is that what it’s saying, is it? And if that’s the case, then I can’t go full-time freelance right now.

But down there with all the noise, it’s impossible to hear anything straight from my intuition. I guess that I just don’t know. (Oh no! it’s like I’m channeling “Heroin.”) If you know, tell me, please.

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