Complaining About My Boss


Yesterday we went out to dinner, because we were celebrating a lot of things, and I was reminded I should also celebrate finishing the revision on Guardian.  (Yes, it’s in Larry’s hands right now.)  And then I realized I only finished that on Monday.  Here I’ve been feeling like a total failure because I haven’t finished anything since I finished it, but I didn’t even take half a day off.  (I did clean the house.  It hadn’t happened in two weeks.)

In Jordan Peterson terms, I am a horrible employee and a worse boss, and I should just fire myself and find someone else to be me.

I don’t think I’m the only self-employed person whose boss is utterly unreasonable, and who keeps running long after she should have rested.

I think in fact it’s a compulsion of creatives to think we should be creating all the time.

Well, we’re in a time of transition for various reasons, and transition times are great for establishing new habits.  So I’ve been thinking of what I’d like for my new habits (besides a walk a day, which is now doctor ordered.) and I think Saturday will be my publishing day (alas not this week, as I have three things ALMOST ready to go (note the almost) and perhaps work for PJ day.  And Sunday I’ll take off.  I haven’t taken a planned day off in years.  I’ve taken days off because Dan kidnaps me and drags me off to the zoo or a museum or the botanic gardens, or just for a walk, but not planed ones.  I don’t think there’s been a day since my 20s that I got up and said, “I can read or do whatever and no one cares.” So I want to experience that again, at least once a week. Mind you, what I end up doing might be taking a drawing pad out and drawing trees, or playing with Greek and Latin, but that’s still a day off.

We still need to figure out someone to do data entry for our taxes, so they don’t eat Dan’s life and writing time (yes, yes, I know, “people do that”.  We just haven’t found anyone who does that.  I mean, we’d pay but it has to be someone we trust and also we don’t want to pay accountant-money for data entry.)

Later, when boys are both off the pay rolls (one or two years, at most) we hope to offload some of the least fun stuff like data entry and house cleaning to someone we pay, just so we can have that day a week and maybe evenings off.

Because, yes, it took Jordan Peterson to make me understand that if I force myself to work all day every day with no reward, the me that works is going to “break.”

I was reading a book of Simak’s shorts, which comes with excerpts from his diary, and in it he talks of losing “something” in his writing from his early days to his middle years.

I too feel I lost something,  some energy.  However, I think that’s mostly because I’m perpetually harassed and overworked.

Yes, we still desperately need my money, but I’m — probably — not a machine.  It’s time to schedule time off before “broken” becomes “destroyed”and my employee can’t do what I want me to do.

Anyway, all this to say, I’m an idiot and tend to overwork myself.  Anyone else suffer from this?

And now I’m outahere because I have a pile of work, if  want to take tomorrow off.

60 thoughts on “Complaining About My Boss

  1. ‘Sodd – Merriam Webster confirms my recollection:

    Definition of boss
    1 a : a protuberant part or body a boss of granite a boss on an animal’s horn
    b : a raised ornamentation (as on a belt or shield) : stud
    c : an ornamental projecting block used in architecture
    2 : a soft pad used in ceramics and glassmaking
    3 : the hub of a propeller

    Confirming, I think, that you’re not the boss of me.

  2. I’ve taken days off because Dan kidnaps me … but not planed ones.

    Smooooooth. 😉

  3. yes, it took Jordan Peterson to make me understand that if I force myself to work all day every day with no reward, the me that works is going to “break.”

    G-D’s telling you that wasn’t enough?

    Gotta recharge the creative batteries every so often and once a week seems de minimis, don’t it?

    1. When there are still diapers to be changed and oxen falling into pits and whatnot on the seventh day, it’s all too easy to keep sliding one or two more things into the “necessary” category, I guess. Which is perhaps an argument in favor of getting more finicky about it, for some of us.

      There’s a “do not worry about tomorrow” command I’m not very good about, too.

      1. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil therein.” Yeah, OK, Sir, but what about tomorrow’s evil? I need to think about that, don’t I? And then wonder why I get a full-blown adrenaline-dump from worrying about a sore tooth…

        1. Sufficient unto the day is the evil therein.

          But relly great mischief demands meticulous planning ahead.

  4. I know it’s easy to say, but 1 day in 7 beats 1 month in 12 because you’ve worked yourself sick. I *know* you know that – you’ve stated it enough times – but managing to look at your schedule and see that day off as critically necessary to your productivity is damned hard. It’s also the key to getting it done correctly.

    Now, if I can just figure out how to do it easily, I’ll let you know. *sigh*

        1. well, most of my issues are auto-immune and get exacerbated by stress, so just piling on and on results in major crisis, prednisone, not being able to work, etc.

          1. Did you manage to avoid the “I just finished project – I fall sick for a week now” thing when the body’s pushed too hard? If so, yay!

            …With Peter, I’m trying to change that to a “I just finished a project, let’s go on a road trip” reflex, so the body gets the downtime it wants without having to collapse for a week to get it. Because elephants are more fun than bedrest.

  5. I was looking at my Day Job schedule for the coming year. Fall – not bad, just a bit confusing in places. Spring – Sweet Land-o’-Goshen! as my maternal grandmother would have said. If I don’t want to break, I’m going to have to focus on writing a lot this fall, so I can publish in the spring and…not write as much under internal deadline. And get serious about taking at least one afternoon off per week.

  6. I’m thinking I have lost a bit of energy myself – up until a year or so ago, I couldn’t wait to get to working on whichever one of the books that excited me. And I was doing three blog-posts a week for myself, two more for pay for someone else, the occasional lengthy book or movie review and putting in hours at the Teeny Publishing Bidness, and now it just seems like an never-ending chore.

  7. And here I thought I Greebo was the boss. I guess he’s just the slave driver?

    Take care. Let Dan kidnap you more often. You’ll feel better and be more productive (I am anyway, even though I feel like a slacker).

  8. Yeah, I’ve got less than two weeks to calm down enough that I don’t have to go blood pressure medicine. One full time job and one part time job plus stuff around the house adds up. Let me go hang a mirror and ignore my tachnicardia or whatever. Then get ready for tomorrow.

  9. Full time job with a three hour and some change commute either way, helping out the family, writing where I can…

    Fortunately, I’m a friendless misanthrope, so I don’t have those pesky “relationships” or “friends” to have to deal with, so I have more time to write!

    (And, yes, before you ask, it is very (long, long set of profanity that will violate just about every Terms of Service on the planet) lonely, thank you very much.)

    1. Well, you may be forming interactions and acquaintances here, as well as the reflexes to dodge the carp being flung about when someone makes bad puns! 😛

      Thank goodness for the internet. Allowing even very busy and very antisocial sorts to be friendly on our own time and terms…

      1. Go to Google Maps. Punch in “Santa Rosa” to “San Francisco” and leave at 4 am. Punch in “San Francisco” to “Santa Rosa” at 4 pm. Use public transit.

        At the very least, the bus has wi-fi.

          1. Yea, but I’m at a point at my job where I have health care, a 401K, a salary that is merely extortion, and as jobs go, at least I’m not up to my armpits in human shit (literal and metaphysical).

            1. A friend of mine just moved from near Silicon Valley to the Oakland side of the bay. Cut her commute by two hours, and the rent didn’t change. She and her partner seem happier, too. It’s still a slog on public transportation for her, but not a two and a half hour slog.

              1. I started looking for a job up here, but there isn’t one that has about the same package of benefits and pay. Thought about working for the State of California, but any position I took would be the VERY entry level position.

  10. Sometimes, ‘ya just gotta be a Sloth. The downtime is important for letting that subconscious part of the brain get to work.
    I’ve been anxious and stressed by the amount of work I needed to do (both writing and household organization), and have not had the focus to do either well. Today, I said “F- this”, and headed to the attic to work on my radio station. I finally got the computer to talk to the radio, made sense of the manual, and returned to work with a clear head.

  11. I’m an idiot and tend to overwork myself. Anyone else suffer from this?

    *raises hand* I found myself almost faceplanting into the Cintiq last week, and it took me by surprise. THAT convinced me to get the hell off my chair and take a nap on the couch.

  12. As Heinlein sagely observed, “Budget the luxuries.” Including time. Even in college and Test Pilot School, I made a point that Saturday was a day of rest. Relax, read, go shooting…but not study, do homework, or write reports. As everybody else has pointed out, you need the time to recharge.

    1. Perhaps you could submit a guest column or six and regale is with your adventures in TPS and subsequently as myopia has yet to be overcome in my case, among other things, yet it has not cooled my ardor for things aeronautical and transterrestrial.

      1. Depends on whether or not our hostess would be interested. I went through as a flight test engineer, graduated in the summer of 1992. My class of 34 had five members selected for astronaut…which is an incredibly high proportion. It helped, I think, that we were the first TPS class to start after Desert Storm, the first in a decade with combat veterans.

  13. I’ve found over the last couple of years that writing is a quite unhealthy lifestyle. I put on some weight, lost some muscle mass, and spent pretty much all my time typing. Or thinking about typing. Life and events conspire to keep me from my typing, and I am resentful.

    This is not a good life.

    So, I make sure to cut the grass. Sounds stupid, but it involves using all the muscles I’ve been ignoring while typing. It FEELS GOOD to cut the grass. You can see where you’ve been. It makes the place look nice. Instantly satisfying.

    I make sure my clothes are nice. Washed, folded, stored like I care about them. I went so far as to throw away all my old t-shirts etc, some stretching all the way back to the 1990s. I finally admitted I was never -ever- going to use that stuff, and got rid of it. Now I have nice clothes. Not fancy, not expensive, but -nice-. Its satisfying.

    I make sure all my car stuff is squared away and ready in case something might happen. Tools, equipment, consumables topped up and ready to hand. My vehicle is snappy and it never lets me down. Satisfying for a guy who always drove junk as a kid.

    I try to MAKE SOMETHING at least once a month. Something physical, a box, a jig, a toy, anything that means I have to use tools and clean up the shop so I can work. I use my tools, I keep them sharp, I have the fasteners and fixtures to hand when I need them to make the thing I have imagined. My shop works, and it is good to work in. Satisfying for me, who used to work in damp basements too low to stand up in.

    Seeing a pattern here, Sarah? Small things, done regularly, to make me feel like I matter. To give me satisfaction, and let me know, deep inside, that I’m doing what I am supposed to be doing.

    Because if I don’t, I’ll get sick and possibly die. Once you’re dead, the stories stop. To quote Dirty Harry, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

    This is not my practice life, and when I get it right then I can do the real thing. This is my real life. If it isn’t satisfying, I’m wasting it.

    1. Ayup. Peter and I got a basic mower – not a self-propelled one, because we figured that would be his main form of exercise. We hadn’t planned on getting an additional chunk of yard (It now takes two days to mow the lawn), and we hadn’t planned on weightlifting. But it’s really satisfying to see the immediate “I got this done and accomplished” in the earliest dawn, as sunlight is starting to spill over the horizon.
      (North Texas. In summer, it is acceptable to start mowing just about as soon as you can tell a black thread from a white one, and hurriedly finish the weedwhacking as the sun starts to rise. It’s too hot to mow in the gloaming, so earliest morning is the only option.)

  14. I just like to sharrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrpen my kniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiives, getting them all POINTY and SHINY and SHARRRRRRRRRRRP.
    I smile a lot doing that. Well, it works for me, Your mileage may vary.

  15. I am creative in three or four different areas. The good news is that I can recharge Area 1 by working in Area 2 for a while, etc. etc….the bad news is fairly obvious, once all of them crash at once.

    I wound up in the hospital a few years back for a nasty blood pressure spike that no one could figure out. Guesses ranged from multiple sclerosis to stress and weariness. The fact that I fell asleep in the MRI leads me to believe the “exhaustion” diagnosis. 😀

  16. Back in high school, I had a teacher talk about the Iron John fairy tale and how that relates to people. (Private school, so we had religion classes—but some of them were “how to survive high school” and, later, “how to survive after high school.”) The imagery of a stove was paramount—when you do things, you burn brightly, or consistently, but whatever you do, you make ashes. And if you keep burning, you keep making ashes, until there just isn’t space to burn and your flame gets smothered. So you have to take some time to clean out the ashes, and if you do that regularly, you have plenty of space to shine. (And it’s a lot easier than cleaning out a stove that hasn’t been swept in a year!)

    Even God rested on the seventh day. You need that.

    1. Soooo…. they were saying you should get your ashes hauled regularly?

      Wait, this was in school?

      I know, I know you say something deep and I make jokes.

  17. You need to rest on the seventh day. Read, sleep in late, take a hike, go shopping, do some shop work, anything to get away from your day job/primary mission. One hint, Turbo Tax takes a lot of drudgery out of income tax, gets it right, and is faster than doing taxes by hand or by spreadsheet. You also need to recognize that there comes a time near the end of the day, when you are just so tired that you need to knock it off and go to bed. Work you do after that worn out time is counterproductive, you make mistakes, you mess things up. Recognize when you need to quite each day.

  18. There are two things about working for yourself to remember:
    1) It’s nice because you only have to work half days and it doesn’t matter which 12 hours you pick.
    2) The flip side is that your boss can be a real asshole of a slave-driver.

  19. I want to be a boss

    I want to be a big boss
    I want to boss the world around
    I want to be the biggest boss
    That ever bossed the world around.

  20. I’ve been pushing myself, and learning to manage my own time and schedule. Not in a creative writing occupation.

    I’ve been reading Dwight Swain’s Techniques of Selling Writer as a reward and a break. Lotta insights for some of my story problems. I’m going to go back over it and get some more comprehensive notes if I can afford to.

    Finished today. Some of the bits in Chapter 8 under psychology of production seemed to resonate with this post.

    I will get to sleep tonight at a reasonable time, and get some exercise early tomorrow.

    Thank you everyone.

      1. Once upon a time in Alaska, I was sharing a hot tub with a teacher at a dojo. He mentioned “the punch I teach to a white belt is completely different from the punch I teach a green belt, and that is different again from the punch I teach a black belt… and yet I throw the same punch to all three. You have to learn the white belt’s punch before you understand enough to learn a green belt’s punch, and understand a green belt’s punch before you can learn a black belt’s punch.”

        So, too, I’ve found there’s value in going back to the texts and teachers that really know their subject after I think I’ve learned it… because I can then learn what I missed the first time.

        1. The thing I found was the best way to learn something was to try to teach it. And it came in two ways. The first was that, in trying to put together my teaching plan, I’d find implicit assumptions that I’d made, and had to fill in to be able to teach the subject. And the other was that, when teaching, I’d get questions about something that I’d never thought of, and would then need to learn.

          Teaching something is the most fun way I’ve ever found to learn something.

          1. Premise of Scouting & Youth lead, well, everything. They learn from other Youth, then they turn around & teach it, until they are tired of it. But they’ve taught it so much that even without practice, years later it is automatic & sometimes it’ll save their or others lives.

  21. I’m going to the museum on Monday. Because I’m looking straight at burn out and thinking…nope. So, gonna go do something fun.

  22. Denver Botanic Gardens were beautiful this Friday – and they are open late when it is cool.

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