Thursday, January 19, 2006


The past few weeks have been an exercise in faith. Only in the last few days did I realize what it all meant, though.

This month's exercise started last fall, when I emailed the editors at the two magazines I worked for to tell them I was interested in working for them again this year (if they would have me back). Not at the previous volume of production, but enough to stay visible. Sure, they both said. Within a few weeks I had assignments. Two due February 1. One due March 1.

I resolved to start working on them that very day, but the Autumn of Surprises was not yet over, and before long the holidays were finished with nary a website culled to start research. I got to work two days before my husband returned to teaching. At that point I was facing two articles due in 30 days, an editing project I had backlogged since August, and my normal volume of PR. Fear kicked in. What if I started missing deadlines again? To what extent would that jeopardize my credibility?

Fear and overwork have paralyzed me in the past, but this time, I was more afraid that I'd be out of a job if I didn't get moving. So I sat the kid on my lap, sharing pens and paper, and jumped feet first into the research. Okay, there were moments of pen-trading. Many, many moments. And other moments of pushing Mommy's arms away from the keyboard because they were taking up valuable scribbling space. But work was accomplished. Although I can't say for sure I won't miss a deadline, I haven't procrastinated either. And it shows enough for me to say I'm in good shape.

I realized recently that the fear was only part of why I got going on these articles. The other part was faith. Obviously, despite my burnout last summer, my editor kept faith in me enough to assign these articles. If she, a mom of five who has done the freelance mother dance, had faith in me, why shouldn't I?

This was put in greater relief a few days ago, when Joe Konrath blogged about acting professional and "knowing," not just hoping, that you'd one day be published. At first the comment struck me as arrogant. How can you know something like that, especially in an industry where the odds are stacked against you? The truth is, it's not about "knowing" - it's about believing. Having faith. Most of all, getting past the old ways of thinking that kept you working inefficiently - or not working at all.

I believed I could successfully juggle all those projects and my toddler this month, and so far, I've done it. The boy hasn't been any clingier or more demanding than usual, which tells me I'm doing right by him; the work is progressing. I can't really ask for any more than that.

There's a broader lesson here, too: faith isn't just about the day-to-day stuff or the month-to-month stuff, it's also about the long-term picture. In recent months I've come close to quitting, or at least cutting back, for one reason or another: cash shortages, confidence crises. Those things worked themselves out, though, which gives me faith that I am on the right career path - even if its dual nature conflicts. I think that most of all gives me faith to keep going from day to day.


Anonymous Hope Wilbanks said...

Excellent post, Christa. I absolutely agree. If we don't have faith (which is simply seeing what isn't there, as though it were), we have nothing. Faith drives us to action. Goes right along with my post the other day.

23/1/06 7:11 AM  
Blogger Christa M. Miller said...

Thanks, Hope. It's hard to remember sometimes that things fell so perfectly into place when I first started (and still do, really - crises always seem to work themselves out) that it was pretty clear I was in the right place!

P.S. I emailed you... I am sorry for the inadvertent blog snub, I've had trouble subscribing to your personal blog!

23/1/06 9:45 AM  
Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

Life has this way of...settling. Glad to hear you got those projects done.

23/1/06 11:51 AM  
Blogger Mary Louisa said...

She's baaaaaack. :)

23/1/06 1:10 PM  
Blogger Christa M. Miller said...

Oh, they aren't done, M.G. LOL They're well on their way, but I still have another week to go! ;)

ML, yeah, I really want to do more over here. I keep posting comments on people's blogs and then they visit and see a month-old entry. Not very polite of me!

24/1/06 4:41 PM  
Blogger Ronn said...

Sounds like you're finding that life/work balance that we all strive for. Keep the faith.

24/1/06 11:50 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

The balance is the hardest part, I think, esp. for a mother of young children. Everybody *needs* so much, all the time. And then, in the wider world, I find that everybody expects *his* number-one priority to be *your* number-one priority, and thinks you're an evil, selfish person if that's not the case.

BTW -- love the pic of you and the boy!

25/1/06 5:59 AM  
Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

Blog maintenance takes time. So do daily updates. It's an interesting discipline though. I'm learning to schedule it, including the time I spend on other people's blog, beating it back to a manageable level.

25/1/06 5:01 PM  
Blogger Christa M. Miller said...

Well, Ronn, this is the most balanced I've felt in three years. It's awesome. That's why I'm holding my breath, waiting for the roof to cave in. ;)

Mom - if people tell me I'm evil and selfish, it's their problem. But I find most don't have a problem with it when I tell them I'm working at home with a toddler. I find I even get a little more respect that way!

M.G. - I'm trying to learn to use blogging as a "brain break" when I get stuck on a project and need something else to look at. Well, it's a better pursuit than Mah-Jongg... ;)

27/1/06 1:59 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

This really hits home for me. I'm trying to juggle writing and motherhood too -- and I learned that trying to add in PR work didn't work so well for me (pitching is rough when you've got screaming kids in the background, writing is easier for me in downtimes).

Anyway, I flopped on a couple of projects last year, but this reminded me that it's okay to take that leap again. Thank you.

27/1/06 11:50 PM  
Blogger Christa M. Miller said...

Jennifer, I'm really glad to hear that! Best of luck to you this coming year. It is a matter of figuring out what works best at the moment... which changes about every six months, I've found. LOL

And I don't do PR for myself... I work for a company where the boss does all the phone stuff and I (along with others) do all the writing. When I do have to do an interview (for a ghostwritten article), I can usually time it when my husband is home, so it works out OK. Do you want more info?

28/1/06 7:08 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home