Coming up from underground

I've been on a self-imposed media blackout for several days now, so Icould finish my first freelance project with no distractions. No internet, no TV, not even a phone.

It's funny, you know. I leapt headfirst into what feels like it's supposed to be my new life, quitting my full-time job, without really thinking about what the transition would be like. And I knew it was going to suck, because I'd taken on what was essentially a full-time freelance project while I still had fa full-time job to finish out. But I didn't realize how fully I'd fallen out of my old freelance mentality, and how painful it would be to shoehorn myself back into it.

As I see it, there were two big problems:

1) I just can't stay up anymore like I used to be able to*. At about 10:30 pm, my mind just shuts down. So trying to do anything substantive after the kids were in bed was dicey at best.

2) I'm not used to producing content. My freelance job is producing content (sort of educational in nature--the kind of thing you never think about an actual human having written), and for the last 1 1/2 years I've been doing a full-time job that was mostly about talking to people, fixing their problems, being the repository of knowledge (I do have a freakish memory for details about clients), and teaching people to do things. All of those things are process things. I can do two or three at a time, and they all fit together and time can always expand to do more of them.

But this freelance job is about producing actual content, on actual topics, with actual things that are right and wrong, and ways things have to be done. And I was completely out of practice with that. Somehow, I thought that I was going to be able to think the content into existence and have it magically appear in the right format. Or, basically, that I could just show up and figure things out to solve problems for people, like I do in every other task in my life.

Having worked on the freelance project for 60 of the previous 72 hours, I have discovered some things:

a) It's like riding a bike. If you could do something before, you can do it again. Getting back into the zone may have felt like giving birth again, but now that I'm here it's kind of fun.

b) It's one thing to a have a work ethic. It's another thing to realize you're a single mom and you just quit your easy, comfortable job and this is what's going to pay your rent and health insurance and buy bagels for your kids. When you can't think anymore at 2:30 am, set the alarm for 5:30 am, because Yes, We Can.

b.1) Hey--5:30! Wake up, switch laptop on, and jam on the work for 90 minutes in bed before the kids wake up. Dude. Who'd have thought?

c) I can only listen to '40s music for about four hours before I start to go a little batty. I sequestered myself in a cafe near my house to just slam through the work for two days straight, and they play a radio station that calls itself "High Standards" that plays nothing but singers and standards from the '40s and '50s. My previous time spent at that cafe was in three hour increments, and the music seemed cozy and fun. Who doesn't like a little Ella, you know? But after four hours, and then six hours, and then ten hours, I really just wanted to stab Jack Jones' eye out with a pencil. And what's with all the Ella? It wouldn't kill you to play some Keely or June once in awhile, you hackneyed dilettantes.

So now I'm pacing myself. Trying to work it out. Aiming for my life goal for the next few months: No, no drama. No, no, no, no drama.

What's up with you all?

* Does that construction really make sense from an elegance-of-language point of view? Shouldn't we be able to say in American English "I just can't stay up anymore like I used to could"? Or is it just me?