I woke up late again, and drained/fatigued. I feel that I need to make more money so E and I can get married, but I don’t know how. I feel I have so little confidence on my abilities in the workplace in general, and librarianship (the career I’m actually trained for) in particular. My attempts to sell magazine articles have not succeeded up until now, although I find it hard to think of ideas and worry that I don’t pitch them properly. I have a vague idea of writing something about being high-functioning on the autism spectrum and frum for one of the Jewish newspapers (my Mum has been saying for ages that I should write this), but I feel that professional magazines and newspapers publish from a small group of regular journalists they know they can trust. As with anything, I feel I don’t know how to get accepted in the first place. It’s hard even to find submissions guides and find out what word count or format they want.

I guess it’s come to a head partly from having a serious conversation about finances with E yesterday, and also because I keep coming across things written by Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt, who is a very successful frum (religious Jewish) journalist (and community rebbetzin!) and I wonder how other people can juggle creative (or non-typically-frum) careers and frumkeit and I can’t — is it just because I’m neurodivergent? How do I get around that? I really hope I’m not just congenitally useless. I know other people who juggle creativity and frumkeit. I guess they are not autistic, but then they have families and other responsibilities too.

I know, it’s hard to get established as a creative. Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime. Stephen King was rejected by thirty publishers and gave up on writing completely until his wife secretly saved his manuscript and sent it to another publisher. The Beatles were told that “Guitar bands are on the way out.” And so on. It’s hard to stay positive sometimes. At least I’m trying to think of ideas. Autism and low self-esteem tend to shut me straight into “I can’t do this, it won’t work” catastrophising mode.

Other things bringing me down: it’s less than a week since E went back to the States, but it feels like longer, especially as we don’t know when we’ll be together again. And now the clocks have gone back, it feels like winter is suddenly here. The nights have been getting longer, but suddenly they feel a lot longer, an effect that is probably at least in part psychological, as the clocks only go back one hour, but it still feels grim, especially with gloomy weather. I’m aware that this is exactly the time of year when I usually relapse into depression, even if I’ve been in recovery since spring. I hope this is just a bad day and not the start of a relapse.

I feel like both my chosen careers are very woke and focused with inclusion, diversity and minority voices — but not for Jews. Today I was looking at a supplement produced by CILIP (the Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals) on children’s books, very focused on racial and gender minorities; no Jews. Although judging by what I’ve read, including the Jewish science fiction and fantasy anthology I’m currently reading, most Jewish writers have little interest in or knowledge of most of Jewish history and culture, particularly the traditional and religious parts (which is most of it, historically).

E suggested I have a rest day, but I wanted to try to do something productive. Possibly this attitude just stores up trouble for me. Maybe I should listen when my body/mind tells me it’s tired. I seem to be caught in a no-win situation sometimes of feeling exhausted and needing rest, but also feeling like time is running out on me and I need to sort out my career ASAP, and that taking a day off (other than Shabbat) will just leave me feeling lazy and useless. So I push myself to do things and feel exhausted again the next day.

I sent my updated CV to a recruitment agent. She is supposed to specialise in library jobs and did actually get me one or two short-term jobs (I can’t remember exactly which ones, I think the really awful one outside the library sector and the surprisingly good one at a university library). I just wish looking at my CV didn’t make me feel like I totally failed at building a CV.

I also wrote a pitch email to a major Anglo-Jewish newspaper, pitching that article on high-functioning autism in the frum community. I do feel it’s problematic that most of the stuff I’ve had published in professional or semi-professional websites isn’t stuff I really want to show to prospective editors, given the subject matter, often depression, suicide or sexuality (but not in a good way, rather about loneliness and celibacy). I probably spent two hours or more in pitching mode today, whether talking about it with E and my parents; sketching a plan; and writing a pitch email (that took nearly an hour and a half by itself). I should probably apologise to E and my parents for being negative; I feel I have to vent a load of negativity before I can actually start a scary task. It’s generally just best to let me vent and then quietly wait for me to start regardless.

All this meant I didn’t get a chance to pitch my novel to another agent or to research the second novel. I wish I could do more in a day, but there it is. I probably won’t send the pitch email until Tuesday, as one site I read advised not to pitch on Thursday night or Fridays (no one wants to deal with a new project at the end of the week), over the weekend or on Mondays (editors are dealing with the weekend email backlog on Mondays and will delete pitch emails unread).

Other than that I went for a walk and spent some time on my devar Torah, but most of the stuff on my To Do list is still there.

10 thoughts on ““Don’t think you knew you were in this song”

    1. My Mum has suggested this a lot. She thinks I’m good with children. I’m not convinced, plus, having spent years training as a librarian and then not having succeeded in that career, I’m wary of training for a whole new career, particularly one that I’m not convinced I could handle.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I think the information that you’ve gained about autism and your experiences on the spectrum are very valuable to others whether it’s through writing or teaching or both.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You sounds like you’re putting pressure on yourself to find a job that ticks all of the boxes: earning enough money for you and E to get married, related to writing/librarianship (which, I know nothing about the librarian job market, but from what I hear, writing is tough), and in fact, not just any writing, but paid writing opportunities in the frum / autism niche specifically. I think you’re a talented writer, but I wonder if it would take some of the pressure off to focus on finding a job that, while maybe isn’t a perfect fit, is more readily available and is a tolerably good fit. Could you expand your writing job search into copywriting or technical writing? Could you transfer any of your experience in your current job with J into an admin role elsewhere? (If that isn’t applicable, apologies – I don’t exactly know what you do). A job doesn’t have to be the perfect job for all aspects of your identity.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I would be glad with a tolerably good fit job, but I’ve rarely found one. In terms of writing, I’ve applied to copywriting jobs in the past and got nowhere, I assume because I lack the skills or experience. So I worked from the other end, thought what market I know (Jewish newspapers) and what subject I know about (autism and frumkeit) and tried to find the point where those things met.

      I don’t know that my admin skills are transferable, and I think that a boss other than J would be a lot less tolerant of my many mistakes. 😦

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I hear where you’re coming from. And deciding to keep your current job because it’s manageable and you have a good boss is a valid decision.

        Still, since it sounds like you are interested in earning more money, and since it sounds like the niche of writing work you’ve been looking for is quite narrow, there’s an argument for trying to expand it. For freelance writing, searching for freelance writing roles outside of Judaism & autism might be easier than trying to pitch. Also, I think you’d be good at technical writing, as you seem to be good at researching and reading sometimes challenging source material and writing more user-friendly content based on it. Admittedly, stronger candidates for this tend to have a science background, but unlike fields like law or education, I don’t think that there is formal certification for entry. Depending on demand (I do not know much about this job market in your area), there could be more willingness to train a promising newbie.

        Another thought – it could be worth asking the recruitment agent for CV advice.

        Feel free to ignore or delete if this unsolicited advice is not helpful.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I have tried looking for other freelance writing roles, without much success. I don’t know how good I would be at technical writing, thanks for the suggestion.

          I have had a lot of CV advice. I’ve been told I have a good CV. I don’t know why I’m not getting more interviews.

          Liked by 1 person

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