Remember that comfortable place I keep trying to ignore? That place where the questioning stops because the comfort zone is its own narcotic? Yeah. I’m trying so hard to nestle my tushie right back in there. And yet I can’t. I’m pushing myself forward way too hard.
Because the comfort zone isn’t just a wonderful sleepy drug that numbs the senses. It’s kind of a slow, draining death. An arid landscape that seems beautiful but the cracked earth, the muddied oases are only the visible symptoms of a much deeper plague.
Not going to lie. I kind of miss the comfort zone. Because I really knew my place and my limits and my abilities. And putting myself “out there” when I don’t even know how far away the horizon is or where true north lies is really disconcerting. I keep checking my mental compass. Search for coordinates. And I keep looking at a blank map. No topographical lines. No sure roads. Just a big blobby red pin drop that looks like a sharp, upside down tear.
You are here.
Where in the hell is “here?”
Here is where my footsteps land. One foot after another. Plodding forward. Always forward. Even if it’s side-stepping or a bit crab-walking. Forward.
Tomorrow night is second NYU class night of the Advanced Writing Workshop. I had to read and comment on four writers whom I’ve just met. I don’t know their comfort zones and am afraid of throwing myself into their comfort zones and making them uncomfortable. Maybe I’ll say the wrong thing? Maybe I’ll just sound stupid? Maybe I’ll show that I’m a horrible excuse for an editor?
Maybe I need to launch these ridiculous ruminating thoughts out the back door and into the growing compost pile in the back right corner of the yard. Right next to the abandoned, rectangular garage that I swear houses groundhogs and ghosts.
I’ve been writing for most of my life. I’ve been editing for most of my adult life. My editing skills have helped send students to the most prestigious universities in the world. I know what I’m doing. I’m just doing something new. Maybe I won’t use the right words. I know were supposed to note what we see, what we observed and not categorize it as “like” or “dislike.” That’s really hard. My habit is to analyze what I think worked well and help the writer continue that pattern.
But I’m trying. Didn’t completely succeed. But I tried.
And I tried to analyze where characterization might not be consistent. Or where time sequences felt out of order. Or where writing was so beautiful I forgot to breathe.
I know what I’m doing. I just need to trust myself.
And in trusting myself, I started the next part of my life. I have started putting myself onto freelance writing websites. Trying to do side-work as a writer, an editor. Doing the work that I know that I can do which is totally different from what I’m used to doing but I know that I can do.
I’m terrified. What if they don’t like what I do? What if the companies just see that I’m an English teacher who really has no idea what is going on in the business world?
Yeah. Those ruminating thoughts can also be heave-hoed out the front. Toward the trashcan on the other side of the street. Or the one on the corner where I dump my dog’s dump.
I am about ten years from retirement. I am five months from my daughter going to university which is the same time when my oldest child will also be going to school. I can earn money to help them lower their costs. I can do more with my life than sitting in my nesty comfort zone and not learning. Not doing more with my skills and talents.
Pushing forward. It’s hard when my backside wants to settle.
But as I used to tell my mom when she stopped in the middle of traffic in Rome, “Forward is always the right direction.”