Someone has made an NBC television show about an American moving to Sweden.
It wasn’t me. It was Amy Poehler. Of course. Because, just six years after launching an NBC television show about the hilarity of working for local government, Amy is continuing her quest to tell my life story in reverse for the American viewing public. I assume, a few years from now, we’ll get to indulge in her comedic rendition of a small town girl having a mediocre college experience at a Big Ten university. Be prepared, there will be no discernible plot or meaningful takeaways.
So there’s this show. It’s a comedy called Welcome to Sweden and it starts in July. What does this mean for someone who recently released a book on nearly the same topic, plus some weird cults and indentured servitude? I don’t know. It seems like an opportunity, but I’m not sure what that opportunity is. Will people accidentally buy my book, thinking it’s associated with the show? Should I send the book to Amy so she can write a desperate American house servant into the second season? It certainly means, as this show is based on the real life experiences of Amy’s brother, that if my sibling was famous, the Swedish Lessons version of Welcome to Sweden would have already happened. Come on, Brianna. Get with it.
While I mull over how Swedish Lessons can hop on Welcome to Sweden’s coattails, you may enjoy the trailer. It looks amazing.
Robots have been driving me nuts recently. Two specific kinds of robots, actually.
First, there’s the kind all journalists know about: the human PR robot who refuses to answer the question you just asked them. Sometimes this is fine. Even if their language is painfully robotic, you really just need them to say something, and you can fill in the narrative around their quotes. Other times, particularly when you’re trying to report on something in depth that asks “how” or “why” something happened, it ruins the entire interview. If you ask a question that should be answered beginning something like, “Well, this one day, Tom said to Mary, ‘I’ve got a great idea!’ And the first thing they did was…” and instead the answer begins, “As a company Big Brand has always been committed to supporting great ideas…” that is not anything. It’s robot sludge. It’s definitely not a story.
You know what I love? Doing things I’m only OK at doing. Below average even. It’s really the best.
If you’re the sort of person who likes to be the absolute best at what you do, which is often a trademark quality in freelancers and entrepreneurs of all kinds, you know the incremental improvement game: hours and hours and hours of every day are spent focused polishing, refining, developing, researching and practicing the same skill/product/business you’ve been polishing, refining, developing, researching and practicing for the past bazillion days. It’s exhausting. Of course it’s rewarding and fulfilling and all that too, but today, we’re acknowledging that it’s exhausting too. Come on, A-typers, you can admit it.
Where I come from, you finish what you start. Join a team; make every practice. Get an assignment; complete it on time. Start a book; finish the book. Say you’re going to do whatever; do whatever until whatever is done. Those were the rule’s in my mother’s house, so those are the rules, at age 32, I still march to in my own house. Good training, Nancy.
I’ve recently stumbled upon a quandary with regard to these instincts. The project I started a few months ago, a new book, was being threatened by a series of things: a) I wasn’t sure if I was up to the task of jumping, feet first into a long work of fiction, b) I was kind of procrastinating, c) I was hit with another idea that I got really excited about.
But following new ideas into the weeds with an open project pending isn’t part of my programming. So I resisted. Maybe later. I said I’m doing this thing. So I’m doing it.
Painting my nails on a Wednesday afternoon always feels a little scandalous. Never mind that the last 48 hours were an intense marathon of working from waking up through Daily Show time. Or the fact that painting my nails takes ten minutes, and I’lll go back to working when I’m done. It seems indulgent. And I feel guilty about it.
Even though freedom is the number one reason freelancers cite for choosing to work for themselves, it’s difficult to get cozy with it.
Confession: I don’t get the Amtrak writer’s residency thing. I know I’m supposed to be losing my mind over it, as I can clearly see the rest of the internet has. Numerous people have shared the link with me, excitedly pointing to this as possibly the best thing the internet has ever produced for me. And I’m just not interested.
Sorry! It’s totally cool that everyone else is, but here’s why I, a full-time, professional writer, won’t be applying:
Bad decisions seem to travel in packs. Staying up too late to read. Turning off the alarm and sleeping in. Starting work late. Not responding to emails promptly. Ugh. I’m blaming it on the time change. So at least I can trace the inciting bad decision back to Benjamin Franklin. Thanks, Benji.
Eventually the cycle will stop and my ratio of poor decisions to logical ones will start tipping in the right direction. I think. I hope. But here’s something to think about until then:
During the guest lecture Mike and I recently gave at Western Michigan University, I skipped out for a minute to use the bathroom while Mike was speaking. He was giving the students an overview of his cover gigs, and I could hear him play a bit of Drake’s song, “Hold On, We’re Going Home” from the hallway.
As I walked back in he was saying, “You might have noticed I changed the last line of the chorus from ‘I know exactly who you could be’ because, I mean, come on, Drake. Who are you to tell a woman who she should be?”
So I did that right. I married that guy. I can probably manage to replicate that kind of decision making this week. (There’s 1.5 more days to this week left. I can do it.)