Workaholism Means Never Having to Say “I’m Available”

Overwork has been a struggle I’ve had all of my adult life. Like anybody with a genuine problem, even as I write this, I think it’s a kind of silly thing to say. How could someone possibly harm themselves or their life with too much work?! Work is the essential glue that holds a life together, and really, how could I say that I’m working too much when there’s still so much work to be done?

I’m constantly plagued by the worry that it’s not my overwork, but my chronic under achievement that leaves me fish brained, and turtle eyed. I can’t help but feel like the shit I do all day shouldn’t take as long as it takes, or shouldn’t be as tiring as it is. I don’t really know, maybe I am just a lazy bastard, but I keep having this feeling that I’m not. So I’m going to do something my friend told me, and count out the hours of my day, add them up and see how many there really are.

8 hrs – Work
8 hrs – Sleep
2 hrs – Commute
2 hrs – Dinner and clean up
2 hrs – Writing my blog
1 hr – Walking Pepper
1 hr – Hygiene
24 hrs – Total

No wonder I feel like I never stop working. There’s no time in my day to do anything else. But I look at this day, and what do I really do with it? I sleep, I eat, I do my job, and I take care of a household. Sometimes I can do two things at once, sometimes things don’t take as long as that, but sometimes they take longer. The nights I actually get 8 hours of sleep are few and far between, so what do I waste those extra hours on? Yeah, I fuck around on Reddit and Twitter too much sometimes, and I dawdle after work sometimes, talking to people, or I’ll sit around and watch the end of a show when I really should just turn it off. The problem with me is I legitimately believe that every single minute of every single day should be filled to the brim with purpose. But I look at my tired body, my dwindling mood and I wonder if I might be wrong.

I really enjoy writing longer, slightly more research intensive blogs like I did yesterday, or the personal and cultural examination that I wrote last Friday. But I’m starting to think that I should reserve my strength for those guys, and spend less effort and energy on the regular days like this. I need to let something slide, I need to be able to be shitty and not proof it three times, and not check my prose repeatedly. Sometimes I’ll spend half an hour to change three words out of a thousand.

The problem there is, my life isn’t interesting, so if I just wrote a throw-away post about what I did that day it would probably be one sentence: “See yesterday.” I don’t give myself time to have any sort of interesting things in my life because I am too busy working. By controlling my schedule with overwork and over-committment, I never have to worry about being interesting or having friends or a life or anything.

I do this a lot. When reality gets to be too much for me, I either pile on the tasks, or I complicate the tasks I already have. Average word count for my posts has risen as my stress levels have risen. And some of that is me taking care of myself, insulating myself with things I know I can do in the face of the chaos that is my family situation right now. But it’s been too long, it’s time to come out of hiding.

I get a lot of joy, and a huge sense of accomplishment from blogging every day, so I’m not going to stop that, but these things have to get shorter and looser, you guys. I’m not going to be putting out press ready material every single day. Sometimes I’m just going to talk about my day, even if it’s just about how much it was like yesterday. And honestly, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. I read the blogs I read because I like the people that write them. And sometimes they write high-minded shit, but they’re not churning out perfectly worded and composed treatises on the state of reality every fucking day. Well, none of them are turning out anything every day, but that’s another issue all together.

Basically, I love doing this shit, but I gotta pace myself. Which is why I wrote 780 words on the subject. Because contradicting myself in word and deed forever hooray.

9 Replies to “Workaholism Means Never Having to Say “I’m Available”

  1. Hey, my name’s Earl Dukes. I’m Earl Dukes on the KATG forums, ha. That’s how I ended up on your blog. Anyway, just figured I’d hollar real quick and spread some positive vibes. This was a great post. You write very well. I notice you kind of get down on yourself. Like this one: “The problem with me is I legitimately believe that every single minute of every single day should be filled to the brim with purpose. But I look at my tired body, my dwindling mood and I wonder if I might be wrong.” I deal with that feeling a lot, too. If I’m not doing anything, then I have to find something to do, and before I do anything, I usually think to myself, “Ok, so what can I do at the same time?” So I decide to listen to a podcast while I do the dishes, but which podcast? I’ve been out of the loop of politics and world news lately, so how about Democracy Now? But she talks too fast, and I’m too ADD to focus on what she’s saying, so how about a more story-oriented news thing like Planet Money? Oh, but there’s a new Roundtable of Gentlemen, and that would be more fun to listen to, but I really should listen to something productive like the news. Trying to do two things at once like that just adds even more pressure and worry about how I’m spending my time. But the thing I’m kind of figuring out is that there is purpose even in some things I don’t think there is purpose in. “Sometimes I’m just going to talk about my day, even if it’s just about how much it was like yesterday. And honestly, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.” That’s the thing. It’s not a bad thing. You said your life isn’t interesting, but I just read 800 words about the part of your life that is probably the least “interesting”–how overworked you are–and I was still interested. My life is far from interesting. I work at Panera 8 hours a day, and I live so far from the city that I can’t have much of a social life. On my days off, I sit at home and worry that my life has no purpose. I’m trying desperately to get out of here, and my situation used to make me angsty and depressed, but now I look at it from a different perspective. I don’t know if it’s that there is a light at the end of the tunnel or what, but I’ve learned to draw creative intensity from even the most mundane shit. I’ve started watching more movies and writing about how they make me feel. I’ve started paying more attention to other people and expanding on thoughts like, “That dude looks like some kind of secret agent..” I’ve started interacting with customers and putting names to faces, and I write about how awesome or weird they are, rather than hating my job and getting annoyed with how much money these people spend on terrible food. There’s beauty in the discontent as well, but I’m better able to find that when I open myself to the possibilities within perceived purposelessness. I can’t believe that’s a word. I guess it has to be, lol. Oh, as for the feeling that you might be wrong in filling your life with purpose: you can’t be wrong, right? I mean, even Hitler thought he was doing the right thing. It’s your life and your experience and your perspective, so it can’t be wrong. You may just have to look at those moments when you feel there is no purpose and just let them be. Cause later on, when you sit down to write, you might discover that the purpose of that moment was to write 800 words about how your moments have no purpose. Ya heard? Haha, but for real. Great post, and I look forward to more. And just a silly side note, one thing I do is dress up in a suit and sit in coffee shops or hotel lobbies with my laptop. I look like a bad ass, and nobody has to know I’m watching Deadpool videos, lol. I usually feel so important that I subconsciously focus on what’s more important and get lots of work done.

    1. “I really should listen to something productive like the news.” <-- I have this problem too! I always feel like I have to listen to things that will edify me. I downloaded Faulkner's "A Light in August" and waited two weeks trying to slog through that snooze-fest before I finally admitted to myself that all I want to read right now is detective stories and porn. Thinking about it, every moment doesn't have to be crammed with purpose, every moment already comes with purpose, weather it is honored or not. And sometimes just hanging out is that purpose. Trying to always make something more than it is can be a virtue, but I think it's also good to take a break. And that suit thing is awesome. Where's your blog? If you don't have one, you should get one because you seem like somebody who's blog I would read. I recommend WordPress, because WordPress is awesome.

  2. Thanks for asking 😀

    Not sure why I went with tumblr. It just sorta happened :-/

    I started it a few weeks ago. It kind of arose out of the fact that I’m too broke and don’t have enough space to paint. (sorry if this gets long, but I haven’t really thought this out before) That’s what I do, or at least that’s what I went to school for, and that’s what everybody expects. I didn’t do anything worthwhile in school, and I wasn’t doing anything sitting at home, so I got fed up one day and decided to find something to do. My friends have never seen any of my work, and they’re always asking, but since I don’t really paint, I can’t really show them anything. And since I don’t really consider myself a painter, it was frustrating trying to convince them to let me work with them on projects and things without anything to show. So, to begin with, it’s been about presenting myself to my friends and opening up further avenues of creation between us, but it’s also about getting us all jazzed for life in general. I’ve got a bunch of friends who are miserable where they are in their lives and dreading turning 24. The main reason is a feeling of a lack of accomplishment, like we were supposed to be so much further now than we are. The truth is, college was a sort of time vortex that gave us the illusion that we were doing great things, only to end up back at square one, living far away from each other, and trying to figure everything out and find a voice. I’ve got friends who think they just can’t. One in particular is a writer, and she is always complaining about how she’s not writing as much as she should. I’ve got other friends stuck in creatively dead situations. They’re exactly where they need to be in terms of graduating art school and having a job in a creative field, but one of my friends hates New York City, and she can’t figure out why. She blames the city and the people, but I think it’s that she isn’t letting her creativity free (I guess this is getting long, haha. Can’t really stop now, though. I’m sure you don’t mind, lol). I always admired her because she was always right there. Any time anyone mentioned any project they were working on, she always managed to express her interest and let it be known that she wanted to help. She got a kick out of helping others get shit done. Her wording was, “I’m down for anything!” But now she thinks there’s nothing to be down for, and she blames it on the city. Her own words were that she’s “lost faith in the power of friendship.” I guess one of my goals is to restore that power amongst my friends and I. Danny Hatch and KATG have been a big inspiration to me. Danny with his writing and how he did nanowrimo when he was still a teenager. He opened me up to how important writing is, even if it’s not your “main” thing, and that you gotta just do it. It’s that simple. Whether it’s good or bad, it has to be done. Danny turned me on to writing, and made me want to learn more about it. I’ve been inspired to write more, and I feel like I could inspire my friends to do more and to work together more. KATG has shown that diligence pays off. My friend Yale started a webcomic called Little League (renamed JL8 because of legal stuff), and he’s done really well with that, which has also been a major inspiration. I think it’s really awesome that you post 5 days a week. That’s the sort of thing that I feel is most important. One of my friends is in Maryland, and she doesn’t want to e-mail with me anymore because she says her life sucks and she doesn’t feel like talking about a shitty life. Like, wtf? There’s nothing I can say to her. I already tried. So, my only option is to show her that, if I can do it, then she can do it. I think that’s my logic. We gotta get excited. Thanks for caring, even though you probably didn’t expect an essay!

    Oh, I guess the second reason I started it and also why I only just now have an internet presence is because I have no friends in this town, and my mom got me a laptop for my birthday. I guess that’s the short story, lol. Computer = joining KATG forums, e-mailing friends in other states, and starting a website.


    1. Your writing sort of reminds me a little bit of modernists like Gertrude Stein and e.e. comings, but also post-modern writers that employ stream of consciousness. Dennis Cooper comes to mind, but no adult should read anything that man writes. The horror of his novels is best reserved for high school sophomores who want to feel things deeply from safe inside their well lit and furnished homes.

      I think it’s Ira Glass that said something to the effect that creative people focus too much on quality and not on quantity, that there is an amount of work you just have to get through, and be bad at, for however long you’re bad at it before you can finally make the things you want to make, because you’ve worked up your senses, your skills on all the piles of terrible that lay behind you. That thought was really in my mind when I started this blog. It still is. There are a lot of things I want to write, but I hesitate because I know it’s going to be terrible. I can see what I want to produce, and I can see that what I’m producing, and I know that the one falls far short of the other, but I can’t always see how, especially with fiction. I haven’t written a lot of fiction, because I hate everything I write. And I’ve been keeping my fiction off this blog, probably because I know I’m better at non-fiction, so I want to only put out the good stuff. Which is complete bullshit, because I started blogging every day in order to get through my bad work. Argh! The ironies of the human ego. But I’ve decided. Fiction is going on this blog now. I have to stop being a pussy.

      As for a degree, many people tried to tell me while I was in college that the degree was only a door opener, that I’d have to work my way back up from the bottom once I graduated because with anything besides a science major the degree only proves that you can do work, not that you can do specific work. I ended up making significantly less money my first year after graduation than I did when I was in school. College is kind of a gold-star factory. I wish that my university career center had been more than an empty room with what basically amounted to a white pages in it next to a stack of menial jobs geared towards current students and not alumni. But I couldn’t do the work I do now without a university degree. They wouldn’t have even considered my application. And I get to do creative work that I love, so I think it was worth it. It used to be that college separated the serious professionals from the casual attendees, but since almost every middle class kid goes to college now, companies have to use a different metric, and unfortunately that’s the extremely low-paying slog through shitty jobs and/or a large collection of freelance work in their specific field.

      In my experience 24 was significantly better then 23. 25 was excellent. 26 wasn’t so great, but that was my own personal issue. So far, 27 has been a banner year. In general, life just keeps getting better.

      1. ha, cool. I was into ee cummings for a little bit in high school. I read a lot of fantasy novels back then, but I was more interested in music than reading. I guess I was more into contemporary interpretations and information about their influences than I was in reading up on those things. For example, Le Tigre mentions Gertrude Stein in Hot Topic. I learned a lot from that song alone, lol. I’m re-turned on to Stein now, though. Gonna check her out. Yeah, I don’t know how I feel about fiction anymore. I never got the point. I guess I didn’t think real emotions could come out of fiction because it’s not real. I had a big discussion about movies recently, because I feel the same way about movies. I never enjoyed movies because they’re really bad at showing real emotion. I still think that, but I also enjoy movies more these days. I’ve kind of accidentally started writing a little fiction. I say accidentally because I’ll sit down and just write, but something imaginative will come out. It’s a real surprise. That must be why I’m opening up to it, because I can see my own thoughts are coming through. That’s me on the page, but it’s not me.. I really hope that makes even a little sense, because I can’t wrap my head around it, haha. But that’s the thing. I’ve got a friend who is writing a screenplay set in France. If I were writing that, it wouldn’t actually be Paris. I would see Paris, and I would describe it as Paris, but I’ve never been to Paris, so it wouldn’t be Paris. It would be a Paris, though. But some movies and writings (and I’m not talking about Paris. I mean any place or emotion or anything foreign) seem to actually want to be Paris, and it feels like a lie. I mean, for real, I would never write about Paris or anything I haven’t seen or done without it being obviously from within myself, but other people seem to. It’s like how I see Superman as being more realistic than Batman. Everybody loves Batman because “that could actually happen” and all this shit. If you ask me, Batman would have been dead long ago. It’s much more likely that, were there a Superman, all that crazy Superman shit would happen. If Batman existed, he’d get found out or get shot and killed real quick. That’s my dilemma in a nutshell. I guess I’ve yet to see what life after college truly has to offer. My gripe right now, though, is that I learned a lot about how to get a “job”, but nothing about thinking for myself and maybe even working for myself. Everything was tailored towards getting a job, when there are many other factors that go into improving your life. That’s the stuff I’m having to learn on my own and that college beat and all-nightered out of me. “life just jeeps getting better”, haha. That’s what I tried to tell her, but what can I really say, right? Just gotta get out and go.

        P.S. jeeps? lol. Jeep should use that one.

        1. Jeeps FTW. I think it’s funny that you say college taught you how to get a job, but not how to think for yourself or work for yourself. I think the exact opposite about my college experience.

          1. Haha, yeah weird. Maybe it’s the stigma of going to art school that made my school so job focused. Their whole thing is to be against the starving artist stereotype. Their employment rate was 80-something percent when I started. The only reason I remember that is because they really boasted about it.

  3. Not Done!

    I almost forgot to mention Keith McNally. Those “shitty comics” that he does really got me going. Way back in the day, I tried and failed to do a drawing a day blog. Shitty comics gave me a little gusto recently.

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