Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Guest post: Joe Lamport

Today's guest post is by Joe Lamport. I won’t date either of us by saying how long we’ve been friends—but it's been a looooong time—and I’m enjoying watching him transition from being an overworked lawyer to his new life as a writer and translator. Heres some of what hes learned.

Probably the biggest surprise has been discovering how little time there is every day, even though I no longer have to wake at 6 a.m., shower and shave and head off to the office for ten hours. It’s amazing how quickly a morning at home flies by. In the absence of a commitment to the office grind, the business of daily living has expanded in kudzu-like fashion to fill the void—all the cleaning and shopping and fixing and puttering around that I’ve ignored for the last twenty-five years now cry out for my attention. And there is no shortage of even less-productive ways to waste time, with a web browser close at hand and no boss to look over my shoulder.

So no matter how much I try to stick to a schedule, which includes a minimum commitment of two hours per day for my writing, there have been some weeks where my writing has advanced not even by a line. How can that be, I wonder, and how did I ever manage to hold down a full-time job for all those years, and still manage to find time for my writing?

The other major surprise is just how ill prepared I was temperamentally to fully enjoy my new-found freedom. For about twenty-four of the last twenty-five years I keenly anticipated the day when I would be able to give up practicing law, no longer needing to vex myself with legal briefs and SEC filings, or worrying about how much money was being left on the table and by whom, or finding it necessary to further insinuate myself into my clients’ business. And yet no sooner did I celebrate saying Goodbye, Day Job than I discovered myself saying Hello, Night Sweats.

Of course, my job as lawyer and general counsel came with its own considerable stresses. But now I find myself having to deal with a new and unanticipated kind of stress. Having no external deadlines and pressures brings its own anxiety. The phone doesn’t ring, the flood of email has abated to a trickle, and I have quickly discovered my own complete dispensability to my former colleagues and clients. Maybe it’s a necessary kind of detox—getting the type A lifestyle out of my bloodstream. If so, it’s been almost three months since my last day on the job and I’m still waiting to feel myself truly free of those toxins.

But don’t get me wrong. No matter what the challenges and anxieties of my unemployed status, I have not yet begun to contemplate calling it quits on calling it quits. The freedom is beyond exhilarating now that I have nowhere to hide but in my own skin. And every day brings an interesting new wrinkle. Even if I haven’t yet managed to find the time or self-discipline to make great progress every day, I’m slowly starting to chip away at the stack of things I feel more than a passing need to write or say.
The Adventures of Monkey King
Joe Lamport is a writer and translator who lives and doesn't work in New York. He has written a novel called Dinkelmann's Rules. He has published translations of classical Chinese poetry under the pseudonym Lan Hua, which can be read online and at The Epoch Times. His most recent work is a book-length translation of the classic Chinese novel The Adventures of Monkey King, the first chapter of which has been published online.

1 comment:

  1. And you thought we were eating bon bons!
    Just kidding. Nice to meet you, Joe, and best of luck in life after calling it quits.