“Work hard, play harder.” This was my motto about two decades ago when I was energetic and thrived on hope. As an aspiring writer, I worked full-time and wrote fervently part-time. My boyfriend at the time was also high-energy and worked a lot. We were both “paying our dues” so when he was working and I was off the clock at my day job I wrote. When we both had time off (which didn’t align all that frequently) we packed in as much fun as possible.
Vacations were never the “lie on the beach” type but of the “I need a vacation after my vacation” variety. Because we worked so hard, we felt we deserved to have fun, too. A lot of fun. Crammed into brief vacations.
A little over a decade ago I was regularly selling my writing so I switched to a part-time job. Now I had more time on my hands than my boyfriend, so I added “produce more” to my motto.
I used vacation time (ironically, in my part-time job I accrued more than he did) a day at a time to create long weekends. These became “writing weekends” during which I focused on a specific writing project. Basically, I “played writer.” Whatever I envisioned my life would be like when I became a full-time writer was my focus for that long weekend. Sleep. Eat. Read. Write. Read. Write. Sleep. Whatever I dreamed as “a writer.” I planned these weekends months in advance and looked forward to them as if they were a dream vacation to Bermuda.
They paid off! I began raking in the magazine credits and turned my attention to book-writing—and a half-time job. More time to write, but still working hard and in need of hard playing to balance things.
Now that I’ve limped to the summit of Middle Age, that motto doesn’t work out so well. First, after spending several years writing full-time I started teaching workshops. Writing is too solitary a career for someone with so many words to share. Second, those workshops led to bigger gigs and I now teach half-time at a local college. Now my breaks are structured between semesters and whatever schedule I have each semester. Lately my motto seems to have become “Work too hard, catch nasty virus, miss vacation time.”
I spent my time off reading, coughing, and sleeping. Ah well, at least I traveled a great deal and had plenty of adventure—in the past, the future, and an alternate realm. And I’m not even sore! No suitcases to unpack and run through the laundry, either. Not bad.
The semester began today and my voice almost lasted through the lecture. In about a week I’ll have settled in and will find my routine and a will revise my motto. Maybe “work hard, write plenty, smell the flowers, enjoy each day.”