When I left the classroom in the summer of 2020 I thought the relief would be immediate. I thought my body would sense this newfound safety. That it would relinquish the worry and dead weight. That rest would come easy.
It did not come easy.
In fact, it didn’t come at all.
Instead, I took all of that anxious energy I’d been swimming in for four and a half years (really, the past decade) and channelled it into writing as much as I possibly could. I wrote two picture books, the first installment in a new middle grade series, a novel-in-verse, and an early graphic novel. All while revising my sophomore YA and promoting my debut.
I worked seven days a week because I could. Because that’s what I was used to after a decade of writing alongside full-time work. 60 hours a week was my baseline. My brain didn’t know how to do anything else. It didn’t even want to try.
And it was easy to justify the hours I was spending in front of my laptop because everyone online seemed to be doing the same. They were taking up knitting and learning a new language and losing weight and using lockdown as an opportunity to “win” at life, which shouldn’t be a game to begin with. Specifically, within the writing community, I felt this pressure to produce even more acutely. Because even though people were often tweeting about the importance of slowing down and giving yourself grace because we were in the middle of a pandemic for christ’s sake those tweets were often followed by celebratory screenshots of how many words they’d managed to write that day.
It was frustrating and yet it fueled me because it validated this need to overwork that I’d been cultivating my entire life. Since I was a student striving for all As. Since I was a recent college graduate working on building my self-publishing career. Since I was a teacher arriving early and staying late; spending my weekends grading and lesson planning, and oh yeah, working on my debut novel.
But recently, something has unraveled in me.
Maybe it’s the past two years of watching our government treat people as though they’re expendable. Maybe it’s the past two years of watching individuals treat each other with the same disdain. But I see capitalism as the disease that it is. I see all of the ways it’s made me sick while pretending to be the very medicine meant to make me well.
I’ve realized that rest is radical and that it’s not something you earn it’s something you take. Something you steal. Something you fight for tooth and nail.
And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
I’m scrapping my production plan, the five books I was going to write this year paused indefinitely. Instead, I’m pouring myself into a single project, I’m committing to a reduced schedule, and I’m going to see what happens when I prioritize something other than work.
What happens to my career.
What happens to my mind.