I’m sitting here staring at my screen. Paralyzed. Wordless. I’ve opened the document named “annual report” a thousand times, and it still has nothing but a heading. I’ve started the first paragraph a few times, but I keep deleting it. I have nothing to say.
The curse of the professional communicator/writer has returned to haunt me. Once again, like every other job I’ve been in, I get to the second or third year that I have to write the same annual document, and I get bored. Seriously bored. It’s not just me either – almost everyone I know in this line of work has an attention span of about 3 years. We can usually stretch our interest in something to the second and even third year, but beyond that, we go plum stir crazy if we have to keep writing and communicating about the same thing over and over and over again.
I can write about almost anything for awhile. In my professional (ie. “paid”) career, I’ve had to write about veterans, agriculture, health, science, and now hunger. I’ve written press releases about commemorative events, communication plans about testing SARS on “non-human primates” (in other words, “how to tell the public we’re really injecting MONKEYS with the deadly SARS virus and then KILLING them, without getting PETA down our throats”), speeches for politicians dedicating new memorials, and articles about how the price we pay for bananas impacts small scale farmers in Africa. I’ve planned photo ops for two prime ministers, spoken to media from all over the world, organized press conferences on a myriad of topics, and advised senior level bureaucrats on the right thing to say without pissing off the Canadian public.
But… the problem is, I keep getting bored. B-O-R-E-D. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’ve had a career that would make many people swoon with envy. I’ve travelled all across Canada (several times) and even to Africa and Rome. I’ve met all kinds of dignitaries and other famous people. I’ve seen my name in print hundreds of times. I’ve heard my words spoken from the lectern by high level politicians.
But still, after about two years, the end result is the same. B-O-R-E-D. What is WRONG with me? Sheesh!
On June 3, I’ll have been in this job for 2 years. I thought FOR SURE this job would be different. I mean, I’m doing something meaningful for a change. I don’t have to feel like a government zombie anymore. I get to challenge and inspire people to help solve world hunger. I get to travel to developing countries. I get to do more public speaking than before. I get to make a difference. I get to flex my leadership skills. I get to…. oh man, it’s still not working. I’m still bored.
When you’re a professional communicator, you always end up working alongside people with a lot of passion, but you’re almost always on the outside. I’ve worked with scientists who’ve toiled for years and years, dedicated to the same task – finding a vaccine for AIDS. I’ve worked with social workers, spending their lives trying to make sure aging veterans receive all the benefits they are entitled to. I now work with people in non-profit, who are determined that some day ALL people will have enough food to eat. These people are PASSIONATE. They live and breathe whatever it is they’re passionate about – it gets in their bones. And for awhile, their passion infects me and I get passionate too. For about a year and a half, I was excited about aging veterans. For about a year and a half, I was excited about agriculture. For about a year and a half, I was excited about ending world hunger.
Seriously - what is my PROBLEM? WHY can’t I sustain any passion? Why do I keep flitting from one thing to another like a drunken firefly?
I guess it’s the curse of the writer. We love whatever we land on, and our firefly light shines into the nooks and crannies revealing interesting things hidden below, but then our wings get itchy and we know that if we stay, our light will slowly extinguish and we will die.
This little firefly doesn't want to die. I want to keep flying. But I may need to find other things to shine my firefly light on, or I’ll get dull. And restless.
No, I’m not quitting my job. When I started here, I told myself that I could give this place AT LEAST 5 years. I still have three years to go. Three more annual reports. Three more church mailouts. Three more cycles of newsletters. Three more… cringe.
After that, hopefully Marcel will be back in the workforce and I can quit and finally be a freelance writer. Then perhaps, if I write about a different topic ever week, I’ll finally be satisfied. At least for three years anyway. :-) Sigh.