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THIS WEEK… not so hot. I’d call it barely acceptable. But that leads into the topic of this week’s update about Being Professional. Read on if you want details, or consider due diligence done if you’re just popping by for a ROW.
Better yet… grab an extra oar and dig in!
So, this week had a couple of very good days of writing, and several days of little to nothing. This week had a couple of busy days with kids and hubby, and a couple days when I hardly saw my children at all. This week had a few great insights into how I can present a large amount of new material to my class (I teach MS Excel and MS Access) but not nearly enough time grading papers. For church, it’s been hit or miss. Mostly miss.
About being professional… to whom do I owe an excuse? As for my students, that’s a very professional relationship, and although I like to joke with them and be friendly, I strive to keep the relationship academically professional. Since I’m rarely late on handing back homework, I simply said “I’m sorry, this week I have a backlog,” and left it at that. For writing, I might not make the deadline for an anthology to which I’d like to submit. Fortunately I don’t have to explain that to anyone but myself, although hubby is also aware of this deadline.
I’m on a committee at church. I like these people and the good work we do together, and I believe it is right and good that I actively contribute to my church’s works. However I’ve missed the last two meetings, and I will also miss an upcoming event that is a major yearly endeavor for my committee. Church is an odd combination of professional and family… there are things I want (and should) keep private. There are things that I share in a general way, although only certain people get the details. In this case, since the chair of my committee is also a friend, I felt it was appropriate to share more of my situation with her.
With my family, they get brutal honesty. My daughters get to know (in an age-appropriate way) about my medical issues as well as the issues that surround them. They know when Mommy needs to stay home and get extra rest. I don’t explain this to my professional connections; if I need to miss an event or meeting, I will summarize as “I’m sick” and leave it at that. Unfortunately, some people interpret this as “I’ve got that bug that’s going around” which isn’t true. Even worse, they might assume I’m outright lying. Anyone who deals with an invisible illness can understand my plight.
We’re constantly struggling to explain to our younger daughter (5) why her big sister (14) acts the way she does. Our teenager has special needs. I could devote an entire blog to her, but I don’t. I often share an anecdote here or there about her life (This weekend she googled Justin Bieber and called a phone number she found, thinking it was him) but the grittier details are kept private. Any parent knows that their child can go through certain struggles, which puts greater demands on the parents’ time and energy. For a child with special needs, this is a regular occurrence, and involves not just the parents but an entire village of people who are involved in the child’s life. Sometimes the scrutiny is turned on the parents, which can be one of the most frustrating and infuriating parenting experiences to be had.
There’s a delicate balance in being professional between being honest and over-sharing. Women don’t say “Excuse me while I powder my nose” anymore when they need to use the restroom, but other euphemisms exist. Like when I say “I’m not feeling well” or “I’m sick” instead of describing the nasty things my body is actually doing. One of my most-used phrases is “My daughter exploded” which is a silly-sounding way to say that she did something or experienced something that requires a sudden influx of adult attention.
I’m painfully aware that someday I will have a publisher and/or agent imposing deadlines and expectations on me. I need to be able to meet their expectations and fulfill the commitments I make. My best strategy is to not overload, and always plan to be done early just in case something comes up. Just as in a job application where you have to answer “Do you have any physical or mental disability that would prevent you from doing this job?” I need to be able to honestly say “I can do this.”
Even knowing that something will always come up.
If you’re an author, how do you communicate to your publisher or agent when some life-situation prevents you from finishing on time?