Otherwise known as 100 irons in the fire, half a dozen projects on the table…
Mainstream comics fans were sent reeling this weekend at the news that Gail Simone–a major player when we’re talking women and comics–was taken off the very popular Batgirl comic in favor of another writer. Shows of support for Simone and protest to DC over the move have been making their way through my feed-reader and I sympathize.
But what I know about Simone tells me she’s one smart cookie and will bounce back from this set-back quickly. I’d be willing to bet she has a project waiting in the wings, just like most of us with more ideas than time to fulfill them.
And as I was thinking along that topic Monday afternoon, I was reminded of a scene in one of my favorite books growing up: Golden Slippers.
I went through a ballerina phase (I think a lot of girls do) but, unfortunately, after I’d already passed up dance classes as a tot (long story there) and well after my parents could afford them anyway. So, as a preteen and a voracious reader, I devoured YA books about dancers (among other subjects). I still have a soft spot for dance movies. But Golden Slippers was a book that I read and re-read until it was (is) falling apart.
It’s the story of a young dancer–not necessarily the best dancer, or the dancer with the ideal dance body, but she had a certain spark (and an aunt cum fairy godmother who helped her along as best she could)–who gets a part in a major motion picture and has dreams of Hollywood. She’s young, impetuous, but her friends and teachers keep her in line. Her dance partner in the movie teases her in that I-like-you-so-I’m-giving-you-a-hard-time way, but she only has eyes for the female lead’s partner–the usual schtick.
Anyway, to get to the point, as the movie finishes up she has the moment where she realizes she has nothing planned. After all, she’s only a teenager, not even out of high school, and everyone else is already talking about their next project, the next big idea, next. Next.
And I can’t think of anything worse than that feeling, can you? Un-tethered, at loose ends, no prospects.
Things turn out all right (no surprise there, but the whys and hows I’ll leave Â you to discover if you can get your hands on a copy and are so inclined) but young me learned a real lesson somewhere between the first read and the fiftieth:
Always have something else to move on to.
Of course, as a boy-crazy teen the somethings were actually more like someones, but it was the same idea.
And now, as a so-called adult, I always have a lot of things going on and more ideas than I have time to execute–at least all at once.
Usually when I get the wide-eyed, do-you-sleep, why-do-you-work-so-hard, etc. responses I answer with, “I like to stay busy.”
If pressed, I’ll explain that concentrating on only one project or interest is a fast-track to burnout for me. And both of those are true representations of the situation.
But there’s a third that I don’t think I realized, except for maybe deep in the cluttered filing cabinet of my subconscious, and that is that I don’t ever want to feel at loose ends.
I worked full-time as a bookkeeper while I was also going to culinary school full time. I had a social life that I’d keep up with on the weekends. My roommates barely saw me. When I left the day job to start the internship necessary for getting my degree I remember it feeling a little odd to only have 1 focus, but it was still a pretty demanding routine, so life went on almost as usual.
But when that job ended, when I went back to bookkeeping and had nothing ready-set to fill my off hours, that’s when it set in.
I was adrift.
So I started watching television (for 2 years I’d been too busy to even think about such a thing), but that wasn’t active enough for me (plus we didn’t have cable–no one watched much television in that house, it wasn’t just me). And while I was still ass-over-teakettle as far as debt was concerned, I had a little bit of disposable income I could put towards the hobbies I picked up–some old, some new. And I started to get ideas.
Even though Husband #2 told me, once, that I was not allowed to pick up any more hobbies or bring any more “crap” into the house, I’ve yet to stop.
He’s an ex for a reason.
I will continue to welcome the ideas and interests as they come. I will continue to have half a dozen (or more) irons in the fire. And I will continue to learn new things and share them with others whenever I get the chance.
They are my anchor. They are me.