Going back to work.
There it is.
Those four words echo through my head as the calendar inches forward towards the day I again sit behind a desk and begin anew the other part of me I feel is a lifetime apart. I am again picking up the figurative pen, settling figurative hat on head, and becoming a Technical Writer once more…
…And I am nervous.
I think to conquer my nervousness, I need to find my writing hat again.
I sometimes call it my “Technical Diddley hat”, and I wear it when my deadlines, tools, and difficult procedures give rise to beating my head against my keyboard in an attempt to author user manuals with the “million monkeys on a million keyboards” method. It is also my creative writing hat, my blogging hat, and my “catch-up-on-email-at-light-speed” hat.
Sometimes the hat is blue, sometimes it is red, sometimes it is a lovely plaid pattern. It can be a wide-brimmed California vixen sunhat, it can be a dusty cowboy hat, it can be girly, or not. It changes depending on the day, hour, minute… or mood.
No matter what I am writing, my hat is supposed to help me start the process each day.
Hats, you see, draw the eye, define a person’s personality, give a glimpse into who they are. Wearing a hat lets you be the person you think would wear that hat. Just like a small child pretends to be a Firefighter with their playtime Firefighter helmet, or a Ski-doo helmet becomes an astronaut costume during make-believe. Thus I have always had my writing hat.
As well as providing me the visualization and confidence I need to get work onto paper, my hat lets me put my work down at the end of the day when I take it off. It frees the Technical Diddley swirling through my brain. It opens the hatch, and lets it float up into the sky, ready to settle back into my head the next day.
The last time I put on my writing hat after such a hiatus was when I found my first job as a writer. In fact, my hat was new! There were no dents in it, no wrinkled brim, no thousands of inky marks along the edge where I had stuffed a pen in haste. I hadn’t worn it much, more often than not I was wearing my student hat when I was writing then. It felt great, my new writing hat, and I was excited to wear it all the time.
A writer’s hat should always fit well, in my books. It should be stained by sweat, ink, and the occasional drop of blood. It should be wrinkled and well wrung. It should be so familiar that you miss it when you don’t wear it, and it comforts and inspires you when you need it.
So, over time, my hat has been bent, crushed, and now, is stuffed in a closet, back in a dark corner somewhere.
I figured I might never wear it again after I stopped being a Technical Writer last year, and all my confidence in my creative writing ability vanished with it. So I stopped wearing it all together. Part of me didn’t want the reminder of it in my Mind’s Eye, part of me forgot what it was like to wear it. I was also hesitant to acknowledge that I deserved to wear my writing hat.
I somehow didn’t believe that I was good enough to wear it. That it worked anymore.
Now though, I have to look around at the other hats I have been wearing, as I gear up to be a Technical Writer again. Maybe part of the reason I am struggling to find my writing hat is because the hat hook is full. I have a lot of different hats now, and all of them need to be worn at some point during the day.
I have learned to change hats in the most exciting of situations, and sometimes, I have to grab a hat while I run past the hat hooks. I don’t have time to look, I just have to know where the right one is. Along the way, I had rearranged the hats, and the writer’s hat got put away to make room for new ones.
Some hats I have had for a long time. A daughter hat, for instance, is still there, well worn and abysmally out of fashion. Some are new, like my Mommy hat, and my Wife hat, still quite pretty and new. I have lots of hats I don’t wear too much, like my gardener hat, my scrapbooking hat, my horsewoman hat, not to mention my painting hat, my woodworking hat, my running hat…. There are a lot of those. They sometimes share one hook and I have to stop and sort through to find the one I want.
So now I have to find my writing hat, and put it on a few times. I have to adjust it, I think, and figure out where to put it on the hat hook so I can grab it without looking. Then, I need to get used to wearing it again, and I hope, that once I do, my confidence to be a Technical Writer will return with it.
Because I’m going back to work. And I need all the help I can get.