Saturday, February 23, 2008

Working Stiff (Literally)

by Brian Mullen

I've noticed that many of our blogs recently have been about work and it made me hesitate because that is what my topic was going to be about also. But, after all, we are the Working Stiffs. This week, however, the term can be applied literally for me. I'm a consultant and our firm has landed a big job. What I do is confidential but it involves gathering lots of data, organizing it into some type of meaningful form, using it to determine which government forms need completed and then completing those forms to the best of my ability. As you might expect, the information is not always complete, is not guaranteed to be accurate and is often sent piecemeal. The forms are, of course, government forms which means they are not user friendly or remotely intuitive and the deadlines are always looming and unforgiving.

Fortunately I am not on my own in this project but that sometimes presents its own logistical problems. I am a morning person and arrive to work early. The project lead (for this phase anyway) operates from California. This gives me plenty of work time where I'm not interrupted but it also prevents me from getting data when I could use it. Further, sometimes our marching orders are handed out within a few hours of my normal end time and, due to the work load, we must stay when able to.

Now I'm not complaining as overtime has been approved and the thoughts of a paycheck larger than normal is more than enough incentive to keep me working away into the evening. But as I look forward to a lull in the work that coincides with the weekend I can't help but notice the stiff, aching muscles, the mental fatigue and the slightly upset stomach from the unhealthy munchie breaks.

This weekend may be the first weekend in 2008 where the wife and I have absolutely no plans whatsoever. And since the project started, I have not made a sentence's worth of progress on any of my writing projects. I've brainstormed and even jotted down some notes but the pages are still blank. I am hoping my passion for writing and a good night's rest will be enough to keep this workhorse plugging away - only this time, I'll be working on my own projects. Working myself stiff!


Anonymous said...

Brian -

One way I've used to break out of that work burn out mode is to focus on the sensation of touch - stop thinking verbally and really feel how the sole of the foot experiences the texture of a carpet, or how an arm experiences the temperature variations between standing near the stove and further away from it. Don't fight the stiff sore muscles; relax into them consciously and let the pain and stiffness dissipate around you.

This works for me.

Anonymous said...

I've started going to a monthly "writers' salon." The point is to read your work and have people say something positive about it, not critique it. I have to say, it's gotten me re-invested in my almost-completed novel. You know, like, "Someone would like to read this!"

Anonymous said...

I like to focus on creating an utterly new, fun, entertaining (for me!) character. It's the best fun for me.

Go, go, go, Brian!

Annette said...

Hey, Brian, sounds like you need some yoga for those sour muscles. I happen to know a really excellent instructor...

Anonymous said...

Brian, another problem with the crazy work schedule is that weeks and weeks go by and you don't even notice. Suddenly, it is a new season or a new month and you're not sure where you were during the last one. I hope you get some rest!

Anonymous said...

Sore muscles--that's my job. You can do yoga with Annette, and then come get a nice, relaxing massage.

Hope your writing gets back on track soon. Something tells me you'll produce plenty of works in 2008.

Joyce Tremel said...

Hey, we could probably make this into an all day workshop. I could teach a little self defense and martial arts, followed by Annette's yoga, then finish up with Cathy's massages!