This week’s Weekend Assignment asked the question: what activities do you have to do that take up your time and prevent you from doing other important things that you’d rather be doing?
My gut, instinctual answer, of course, is: well yeah, my day job! That’s not really fair, though. It’s no secret that my current field is not the field I want to pursue for a long-term career, and I don’t mean that because I’d rather be able to write for a living. Writing for a living is a great gig, if you can get it, but I have a realistic, pragmatic point-of-view on the matter. Sure, I’d love to write for a living. And I’m good at it, even if I can’t say that I’m great at it. Written communication, in general, is one of my strongest skills – both in interpreting written communication and in crafting written communication. (As evidence of this, I could point to my GMAT scores; I took the GMAT twice, because my GMAT math scores were not stellar and I knew I could do better. But the first time I took the GMAT my verbal percentile score was already well into the high 90s. I didn’t see much improvement on the retake, simply because when you’re already in the 99th percentile, there’s really no “up” left. My written essay scores were similarly high both times.)
But being good at writing and making a career of it are two very, very different things. Could I be successful at it? That remains to be seen. But in the mean time, I have a family to provide for. And I take pride in my work, whatever it is that I put my effort into. I take pride in adding value to the company I work for. So for me, the problem is that more and more I find that Finance is not a field that is really “value-added” for most companies (unless it’s a Financial Firm, which is another story entirely), and that leaves me feeling dissatisfied when, at the end of the day, I can’t say I’ve done something that is truly meaningful or valuable for the firm. If you’re not doing something that’s really useful to somebody, it starts to drag on you mentally. That’s partly why I’m working on my MBA, and partly why I anticipate shifting careers in the future out of Finance and in a more marketing or stategically-oriented direction. Those are skills and fields within a company where I can mentally trace a direct line between the tasks they perform and the value added to the firm.
So, that’s quite the aside, vis-a-vis the topic of the writing prompt.
So, a perfectly fair answer to the question is commuting. Except for NPR, I hate my commute. (And since I usually finish listening to Morning Edition at work, anyway, on my mp3 player, I really can’t say that’s a good part either.) It’s an hour each way, so that’s 10 hours a week basically wasted that I could be doing something productive. In fact, I’ve turned down a job offer for a job that was farther away, even though they paid more, in part because of the longer commute issue. Giving up another 15 minutes each way every day is too great a price to pay when I’ve already paid so much.
What would I do with the extra time, if I had it? Ideally, two things. Of course, I’d want to spend time writing. As it is, I don’t have much time for that at all. If I could pencil in an hour a day each week, that would really boost my story-writing productivity. The second thing is also an easy one. Spending time with my family, especially to be more helpful around the house. There so much around the house that needs to get done, and I never feel like I have enough time to do it all. There’s the yard and garden, where neglect has caused weeds and things to run wild. There’s the broken door jamb on the kitchen door. There’s all these little things, and I feel like a slacker husband that I haven’t already done these things.
Here’s hoping you can find the time. Happy writing.