I Needed a Little Time to Think Things Over
December 11, 2006
I realised that lately I haven’t done much personal blogging here, in the “being personal” sense. I started this blog as a place where I could connect with friends and just get my thoughts out there. I don’t want to lose that before the blog’s first year is out. Sure, a lot of other things go on here too but every now and again I start to censor myself, not wanting to go on about my life because it’s boring. However, is important to me to keep it real. What’s cool about this blog for me is that I look back on posts from a few months before and am often surprised by how far I’ve come, even when I thought I wasn’t going anywhere at all.
The last few months have been chaotic in many different ways and so often, these sorts of times are a period of transformation. A great shift occurs in my outlook and it’s sometimes more evident on the outside than others. Where I am going, what I am doing and whether I am growing are questions that I have to ask myself in a big way every few months, and probably consider in some small way every day.
Many of you will know it’s been up and down for me with my business. It’s taken a long time to get to earning a stable income and last summer it looked like that was under threat. As it turns out, it’s the nature of selling software that sales dip in the summer (quite dramatically, I think last July I sold half what I normally do) and I hadn’t seen that the year before because of the podcasting explosion. Just as well, really, or I would have given up there and then.
This year I’ve been so tired. The effort it took me to get here and to keep everything ticking over drained me mentally, physically and creatively to the point where I really lost interest a couple of months ago. This was coupled with a number of events in my personal life too, not all about me specifically, but the combination was noxious. I went numb. I didn’t have a plan B, I only had the slightest inkling that what I should really do was try to get a break, somehow. It’s difficult to do that when you have so much to do and your livelihood depends upon you doing it.
As it happened, things worked out by themselves by last month when I did a lot of travelling, edited a lot of videos, took a lot of photos and generally kept myself busy that way. By default I will work unless I have something else to do, which is why it’s so hard for me to take a break. Going to Vlog Europe (which only happened because Richard Bluestein emailed me following a suggestion from Jeffrey, The Gay Expat – thanks!) was really just what I needed.
I can’t stress enough how much I need creative outlets. It’s great having a job that is creative, but it is still a job and a lot of what I have to do is mundane or performed within commercial constraints. Having creative freedom without attempting to make money seems just as important to me. Maybe more so, because I always feel better for expressing myself.
So this was a completely unexpected revelation for me. I’m always saying to people that I’m not all that geeky, because I’m not obsessed with technology and there are so many other aspects to me. To just be geeky makes me feel like a machine. Without doing something that enables me to put those other aspects of me out there, I feel incomplete. It’s just so great that we have the internet where I can do all this and make amazing new friends in the process.
And the business? Well, on my trip to Italy I did a lot of thinking. I knew I was lucky, that I was involved with something exciting, important and rewarding and that as long as I could keep my sanity, pay my bills and be happy, that’s all I need. I looked at where my business could be in a year’s time and considered the likelihood of having grown again, being in a more realistically secure financial position and feeling greater satisfaction and decided that, yes, all those things were not only possible, but actually likely.
My mistake was in trying to run a continuous marathon. It doesn’t work that way. That is the way to burn out, both in the mental sense and in the creative sense. Yes, you have to keep going and not lose sight of your goal, but it’s no good if, by the time you get there, you collapse in a heap, particularly as it never works out exactly as you’d planned. You need to keep reserves so that you don’t feel like you’re running on empty all the time.