Getting a Busy Signal

I’ve recently rediscovered my love for reading books. My love of reading isn’t anything new, but allowing myself unlimited “free” time to sit on the deck to read whenever I can instead of trying to do a million other things instead is.

It’s no longer a guilty pleasure, but rather simply a pleasure.

It’s a relative shift in thinking for me. I used to feel guilty, like I should be spending that time doing something work or blog-related that would garner an external result of some sort.


Because almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t working or doing something to promote their work. Bloggers talk about “taking things to the next level,” working on widgets, book signings, business cards, spending hours on various social networks, reading, writing, commenting, sharing, creating new tabs for their blogs, etc.

If that’s your job, that makes sense, but I just can’t keep up. And to be honest, I really don’t want to.

My job has me in front of a computer all day. I don’t love it, but it pays the bills, I work my butt off and I’m lucky I have it. And while I love blogging most of the time, it isn’t my job and I know that I’ll never be “big.” I know that as hard as I work, I’ll most likely never “make it to the next level” without devoting hours to doing the things that I’ve mentioned above.

Now don’t get me wrong…

I’m a very hard worker and would spend a million hours working towards “making it” if I thought doing all of those things was the key, but I’m not sure that it is. Why? Talent only gets you so far. There is only one Bloggess, and the market for those looking to recreate that magic is diluted with writers that have time and money to spend in an effort to build up their brand.

I do not.

What I do have are decent ideas, a couple books that barely paid for themselves, a laptop I have basic knowledge of and a fairly constant insecurity that a) what I do isn’t good enough b) confusion over what does become “popular” and c) a desire to hang it all up and let everyone else duke it out.

Because, oh yeah, there’s that whole depression/OCD thing to add in there, too.

And unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury to pick and choose when and where I work. Some days are great, and other days leaving the house simply sounds like hard work—but I have no choice.

What I tend to forget is that I do have in choice in how I spend the rest of my time. And sometimes I get caught up in the hype and forget I’m not the girl who is comfortable promoting herself or trying to appeal to a sponsor or some “higher up.”

I’m the girl who rambles and has her head in a book (when it’s not up her ass) and the game on TV with some snacks. I write because I want to share things, not because I need to have those things shared.

So I guess it’s a conscious decision to choose time and simple pleasures over the pursuit of  “more, more, more.” It’s a decision to always work hard and look for new opportunities, but to be content with where I am, whether it’s on the deck with a book or on Twitter spewing one-liners.

It’s remembering that the best investment of my limited time is to spend it doing the things that I want when I can and ignoring the things that might chip away at that contentment.

True, I might miss “making it to the next level,” but I won’t miss feeling like I’ve missed the moments worth writing about. And if I plan things right, I also won’t miss the ballgame.

Like the blog? Buy the books.

43 responses to “Getting a Busy Signal

  1. I hear you. Replace “reading” with “fucking around on the internet” and I’m right there with you. No but really – I try to give myself permission to not be productive in general so I don’t have to feel guilty for messing around.

    • Yes! Thank you for saying that. Sometimes I know I “could” be doing something else, but screwing around online or putzing around outside is just as valuable to me. It won’t get me anywhere, but who cares? It makes me happy. For you, cheers with wine and popcorn, my friend 😉

  2. sometimes all it takes to make my day a little better is a visit here.
    I have been reading more, talking to Gio and Jacob about Kindergarten more, just being more. No, it’s not going to get me anywhere in the blogging realm, it’s not going to vault me into the “next level” but some days there are just more important things to do…like LIVE. 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting, as these kinds of posts make me insecure (I swear, I’m normally rather confident) and I fear it makes me sound whiny. Glad to know that I’m not alone. XO

  3. I’ve always believed the most valuable time we can spend is doing exactly what we want to do and if that means lounging on the deck for 5 hours reading my latest *crack store* (aka bookstore) purchase instead of doing dishes or polishing those stupid wooden floors than so be it.

    I think so many bloggers loose themselves in the drive to be the next Bloggess. As my grandad says. “I’m here for the ride not for the destination.,”

  4. I started blogging before I think I even visited one. I had no friggin idea what I was getting myself into & it was a fuck load of work to keep up. I was exhausted & I didn’t even have kids yet. Now, I call it a small miracle if I can string together anything longer than a tweet.

  5. Amen sista. I will never be big, I will never have the luxury to work on trying to become big.. but I love to write and that’s enough (most days). Reading however .. now that’s a reason to get out of bed (and into bed). Check out Night Films, the latest by Marissa Pessl. Phew… gripping.

  6. I think we have a similar outlook on this. I’m not interested in going out of my way to change what I do or kiss anyone’s ass to “make it.” Whether I do make it or I don’t, it’s going to be on my terms.

  7. I feel guilty when I veg because my hubby is in constant stress and work mode. Constant. So, me sitting on the couch after a long and hard working day, staring vacantly at the shiny picture box for an hour, makes it look like I’M lazy and he’s the hard worker. It causes tension for sure. But you know what? I refuse to feel guilty for allowing myself some downtime just because he can’t or won’t. I’ve long since given up that “next level” thinking, and now am lucky if I blog once a week. It’s fine. I’m just gonna be.

  8. I know exactly what you mean. I started taking the time to have coffee and just goof around reading or cruising the web or whatever on my porch in the morning. Then it got hot and it all went to hell. Have to try that again…

  9. “Bloggers talk about “taking things to the next level,” working on widgets, book signings, business cards, spending hours on various social networks, reading, writing, commenting, sharing, creating new tabs for their blogs, etc. If that’s your job, that makes sense, but I just can’t keep up. And to be honest, I really don’t want to.”

    I feel the SAME EXACT WAY.

    “What I tend to forget is that I do have in choice in how I spend the rest of my time.”

    Yes, indeed. I learned that the hard way. After I started getting sick all of the time from my never ending health issues – I decided when I *am* having a good day I was not going to waste it trying to keep up with things that aren’t TRULY important or that don’t make me truly happy.

    • From what I can tell you DO have that balance and know what you can and can’t do all the time. Sometimes the body is willing and the mind isn’t and vice versa. It’s just about priorities. For some of us it’s work. For others it’s blogging or children or underwater basketweaving…it’s all about balance;)

  10. I’m having trouble right now not feeling guilty about reading. I think, ohhh the dishes need done, the carpets need vacuumed, I could be working out, I could be walking, I could be doing this or that, or this or that. The problem is… I LOVE TO READ! I also love to write, and even though I have some writers block on how to fix a problem in my book, I still continue on with the story, and I love it. However, I feel guilty working on it. Mainly because I haven’t found an agent yet, but that’s neither here nor there. If I’m not up and doing something lately, I feel guilty.

    I commend you for being able to sit there and accept that its good me time.

    • Don’t commend me–do it yourself. You deserve to enjoy a little downtime as well. When you try and force something like writing, it shows. (At least that’s the case with me.)

  11. I’m sick of the guilt, too, and feel constantly torn between trying to figure out how to “best” spend my time and wanting not to care what’s “best.” Good for you – R&R isn’t restful or relaxing when you don’t allow yourself to enjoy it.

  12. I feel guilty when I read, too. It’s silly!

    • Yeah, reading was just one example. It’s anything that’s not “productive” for me, although vegging out on the couch is usually more productive than my attempts to actually do something productive 😉

  13. I understand exactly how you feel!! I rarely have time to read a book, I do try and read at least a chapter a night, but most of the time I’m so shattered from the day! Hope you start reading some good books 🙂

  14. Great post, Abby! The ‘doing’ thing is a curse. Even with reading as my pseudo-job it’s hard but I love that you’re recognizing it. Read away!!

  15. Thank you! I needed to read this post today.

    Lately I’ve been feeling bad that I haven’t been updating my blog, but to be honest, it’s just one more thing that would take away from family time, exploring and reading.

    Love this line, “True, I might miss “making it to the next level,” but I won’t miss feeling like I’ve missed the moments worth writing about.”

    • Exactly. While I miss it when some people don’t blog as much, I totally get why they don’t. It’s ridiculous that I stress over having 1 or 2 done a week when nobody really cares except me. I will continue to write, of course, but for the right reasons and when it feels natural. Not much will change with that, but the shift in thinking will help. What will be, will be 😉

  16. …”it’s a conscious decision to choose time and simple pleasures over the pursuit of “more, more, more.” Just reading that, cutting/pasting that makes me nervous! Great line though. Figure out what you like and do it like a mofo. That’s what i say and if you like to read a shitload and blast an occasional post, then do it. Keeping up sucks! Have a bobble head Tuesday!

  17. I needed to read this! I feel like I could have written similar thoughts. Sometimes I just want to toss it all aside. It is a strange thing, this blogging. Always love reading your perspective.

  18. “I write because I want to share things, not because I need to have those things shared.” This? Thank you.

  19. Yes, I feel the exact same way. I started my blog because I had friends who were asking me to share my stories. Now I feel this immense pressure when I look around because there are some bloggers who are glued to their phone and post their whole life online and that’s GREAT for them but….that isn’t me. I only share what I like sharing. The rest is personal. It think’s funny because everyone sees me as so outgoing, this social butterfly who likes to say crazy things and make people laugh. But deep down, I’m such a homebody and I could stay in my pajamas for a week at a time reading my books and talking to no one. Please keep sharing your thoughts because you are so relatable!

  20. There’s nothing like a good book to take you out of yourself and give you an opportunity to become totally absorbed in someone else’s world! It’s a crazy, merry-go-round, whirly-bird world out there and sometimes checking out for a while doing what you love is the only thing to do 🙂

  21. Good post, Abby. I feel the exact same way now that I am at home and trying to “freelance” instead of being inside an office (just finishing a post about that actually). Everyone tells me to “relax” and just enjoy the time I have now with my husband, new house, new area etc. but I can’t freaking focus on anything because I feel…guilty/anxious/like a total loser when I’m not being “productive”. Similar to blogging, though, freelancing requires a lot of self-promotion, “haggling”, persuasion and just all-around effort…and I hate all those things, despite the fact that I love writing. I need to take a page from your book (hahahaa…pun intended) and just chill the f out..reading is a good place to start.Anything good on tap?

  22. Well said, Abby. I think the fact that this post has so many comments already is just proof that you struck a chord with many of us (myself included). So thank you for making us all feel better for having these thoughts!

  23. Reblogged this on lirimasika and commented:
    Very well written. I am glad there are like you Abby. I am always being told how I should be serious with life.

    I think I am serious about the things that appeal to me and don’t see why I should live someone else’s life.

  24. There is a cosmic message, I think, I am getting because another blogger I love just posted about not getting hung up in stats and such. Its funny how you talk about “the next level” because my “next level” is probably where you are..with your tons of followers! HA! We all have the next thing we want and then when we get it, we want more. Staying true to why I began this journey is something I apparently needed to be reminded of today. And that truth will make this journey last longer because it is done out of joy and love for writing. Thanks for the reminder to chill! xo

    • The grass always looks greener, but in truth, I’m just a peon. I don’t have a huge following and I always say I prefer quality over quantity, and I mean it. It’s the cool connections that I enjoy, not the numbers (thank God for that.) It’s perspective, I suppose!

  25. “I write because I want to share things, not because I need to have those things shared.” <– this. almost kinda sorta relates to my rant about "doing all the things" and you can be an inspiration without having to be a teacher. sheesh.

    now I just wanna send you a cookie.

  26. How do you say everything I think in my head and put it into words for me? First of all, I fucking love you and your blog. I concur, live a well balanced life, not living to promote. And did you read the bloggess’ book? While she’s funny, I didn’t even finish it because I lost interest in the endless babble that is her ‘hook’. I’m not saying this to be mean cause it’s not like my book is going to be the next War and Peace or anything. So who the fuck am I to judge? What I am saying is being big and selling books isn’t what make a writer good. It’s a fucking poplularity contest. And I’m sittin’ with you in the corner girl, cause you are extrodinarily talented. Now, take a break and go read a book!

  27. Sometimes you can write in a way which might make you uneasy because you are saying too much about yourself, but paradoxically what comes across is a truly human figure wrestling with life choices and unsure about the right ones. In that way you mirror the mind-set of many of your readers and this is why I love your Blog. You are very amusing, but you can be very honest as well, and that is no mean fete

    • I love your comments and think we would get along great over a cup of tea. That would require me to leave the house voluntarily for a social occasion, but I would make an exception 😉

  28. Ditto on countingducks’ comment! If it’s any consolation the reader can always tell who writes for an end-purpose versus those who do it out of the art of it. Most of the bloggers doing it for money aren’t even good writers! As a fellow reader, I commend you for giving yourself permission to take the time to read. It’s proven that people who read books are smarter than those who don’t . . . I’m sure I read that somewhere;) Continue doing what you do girl – your readers LOVE you!

  29. What you said. Exactly.
    I am such a doer; the OCD and need to list all the things certainly doesn’t help. Neither does the writers block, but I’ve been making it a point to relax, chill out, just read, watch a lot of Duck Dynasty (I’m not ashamed), and do whatever it is I enjoy. I know I’m never going to be a raving blogging success (maybe just raving), so I’m not going to make myself miserable trying to accomplish something there aren’t enough hours in the day to actually do. Glad to know you’re right there with me.
    So watcha reading? Anything good?

    • Right now I’m reading “The Interestings” and recently finished “People are Unappealing” and “The Art of Fielding.” Loved/loving all three…I’ve been on a great streak!

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