Tag Archives: career

God’s Honest Truth

I’ve been waking up early every day this year to write. Okay, not every day. But a LOT of days, in my defense. Stop being so judgy. Sheesh.

Anyway, I’ve been waking up early to write, and I’ve been taking workshops and classes and reading my heart out because I am committed to Baby Love. I don’t want to write a mediocre novel; I want to write something worthy of print, you guys. I’m not trying to churn something out just so I can say to the world (and myself), “Look y’all! I wrote a BOOK!” Nope, nope, nope, I want to write something that people want to read, and then after they read it they think, Wow, let me see what else Natalie Novak has written that I can consume. Delicious! I’m on a mission.

God’s Honest Truth: I already wrote Baby Love. I wrote it in a creative writing class in college a whole bunch of years ago, but then it was just a paper for class – which I aced, by the way and of course. Now, Baby Love is a novel in the making, and I’m gonna let you in on a little secret about the way I told the story back then. There was some truth to it. There was a lot of truth to it, actually.

But now, as I am re-writing it in novel form, I have taken ginormous liberties, allowing the story to become a pure work of fiction. Very little truth is left on the page anymore, although as I am developing characters, I am finding that everyone I write about is somehow based on multiple people I already know. I recognize myself in some (a lot) of the characters, but I also recognize my sister, my high school best friend, my daughters, my ex-boyfriends. None of the characters in Baby Love, however, are based solely on any one person I know. There is a little bit of a whole bunch of folks all wrapped into every one. It is so strange to see it all coming together and to know that I’ve created these individuals who have such distinct identities. I feel attached to them, even though they aren’t living, breathing, flesh-and-blood people. I hope you do, too, when you read this book.

I’m not sure how to translate this post into something meaningful. I guess I just wanted to tell you.

I think a little part of me is afraid of what people will think (I’m so laughing at myself right now – “a little part of me is afraid.” Hello, understatement of the century). I’m finding that it takes a lot of courage to be a writer. I thought it would be so easy, doing what I love. But the truth is, writing feels far too close to a confession, or at the very least an indicator of the true depth of your creativity. Hey, we all want to be intelligent. Most folks think they’re pretty smart, wouldn’t you say? But believing that you also have enough creativity in your soul to be entertaining for more than 500 words is either really super brave or really ridiculously silly.

We’ll soon find out.

Cry Baby

I’m not really that into crying. It’s kind of a problem, really, and one that I should probably address at some point. But the whole act is just…. it’s just yucky, you guys. It makes me feel terrible on the inside, and it sure doesn’t do much for the exterior, either. The puffy eyes, streaky make-up, red and runny nose, these are all of the physical discomforts that come from what many call “a release.”

But for me, crying doesn’t solve anything, and it sure doesn’t make me feel better. What you see on the outside is pretty much how I feel on the inside when I succumb to a crying jag – MESSY. My heart hurts, my head aches, and I feel nauseous almost immediately. Crying is not good for me. I always regret it.

I’m not a normal girl. I know.

This has been a tough year. It was supposed to be the best year of my life – and in many ways it was – but my career had taken on a life of its own, and not one in which I felt comfortable or even welcome. I really came to understand that I needed to make a big change around mid-summer, when I couldn’t quit crying. At one point, I actually thought I had some terrible disease that required attention, so I went to the doctor.

Oh, be certain: I was afflicted. After a very long visit and many, many tests, my kind-hearted and appropriately thorough physician prescribed Xanax and a book about dealing with anxiety.

I refused a regular regime of Prozac. “No thank you!” I exclaimed indignantly. “You don’t know me at ALL,” I thought to myself. We settled on the as-needed Xanax and a regular discussion about “how I felt.”

He explained that because I had continuously run at such a high level of adrenaline for so many years (what’s a vacation?), I had exhausted my adrenal glands – and they were now completely out of whack. The sudden and extreme crying spells were actually anxiety attacks, and they were my confused and exhausted body’s way of begging me to listen, begging me to slow down.

I was embarrassed. For a while, I was in denial. I carried around the little pills but knew I would never need them. I read the prescribed book and laughed and laughed over how melodramatic people can be. And then I had a full-blown panic attack on Saturday morning at work, ahead of a day when I needed to have my head on straight.

I could feel it coming on, the same way it had so suddenly and inexplicably one day when I was simply cooking dinner in my own kitchen. My heart was racing, my head became very, very hot, and soon I knew that I would lose my breath and those terrible, uncontrollable sobs would follow. That had never happened to me in the workplace before, and it scared the shit out of me. “This cannot happen, this cannot happen, this cannot happen,” I started saying to myself. But it was happening. I rushed to the bathroom as quickly yet casually as I could, and I splashed cold water on my face. Tears were starting to flow, but not sobs, and so I felt maybe it was a little bit under control. I tried to breathe through it, taking deep breaths and focusing on a memory of my husband taking my face in his hands and telling me firmly, “You got this, baby. You got this.”

I composed myself enough to look the part and returned to my work station, where I took out one of those dreaded pills. It worked, but it pissed me off that it worked. I wanted to be in total control of my emotions; I didn’t want some little white pill to regulate them.

This was an important moment, though. It was suddenly 100% clear what could no longer be ignored or delayed: I needed to make a change. I knew what the change was, but it was a big, scary change.

As soon as I realized what I had to do and that it was, without a doubt, time, I began taking steps toward it. Guess what happened.

The anxiety faded, and then it went away. In its absence flowed ideas and plans that I transcribed relentlessly in my little blue-green notebook. And now I’m here, working the plan.

In a way, I think I was in battle with myself because I was afraid. The fear was centered around not wanting to disappoint anyone. However…….

Disappointment is inevitable. They say that you cannot make everyone happy all of the time, and so I assessed who I really wanted to be happy. Of course, I want to be happy. But the happiness of my husband is equally as important, if not more so (again, a blog for another day). The happiness of my children, the happiness of our ‘granbaby,’ the happiness of our home and lives together – these people and these things are what matters.

The happiness of paying clients is important to getting paid and keeping a shiny reputation and knowing that you are doing good work, but one thing I learned through this whole experience is that paying clients are paying clients. They are not, actually, your family. And sometimes, even if you are convinced otherwise for a moment, they aren’t even your friends. It isn’t personal. It’s business. But that isn’t the kind of business I want to be in.

So, I’m charting a new course. I’m writing a new chapter. I’m in control of my destiny. This is my game. This is my show. This is my life. This is my business.

I’m in the business of encouraging focus on what matters most.
I’m in the business of changing lives.
I’m in the business of inspiring.
I’m in the business of happiness.

See you out there. xo