Impending burn-out, aka “Please look around you for the nearest exit”
A friend of mine made the diagnosis today, as I was describing a recent phone session in which I ended up lecturing one of my regulars about his trans-fetishizing bullshit. He got off on the abuse, I hastened to reassure my friend as she stifled a laugh. â€œGo, Social Justice Warrior!â€ she said, but then looked at me with some sympathy and added, â€œI think you might be burning out.â€
My friend is a former sex worker; in general, I feel like I can more easily trust current and former sex workers to see what’s going on underneath, the stuff that I hesitate to say out loud. I think she’s right. Nothing urgent, nothing imminent, but it’s there.
I’ve had these thoughts before. They ebb and flow like the tide, weak and far away and then, before I notice, the waves are crashing around my chin and I suddenly feel like I’m drowning in it and I need to save myself, I can’t keep just subsisting, I need to GET OUT. So yeah, maybe it’s that high-tide part of the cycle, but I think the frequency of the cycle is getting shorter.
I’m noticing new things, too. For starters, I find myself signing off the lines earlier and earlier, as early as I can get away with, as soon as I reach a certain level of dollars in a day. That amount is not set, it shifts from day to day, but on any day, it is less than the potential money I could get if I stayed signed on just an hour or two longer. I used to be a lot more optimistic about that late-night potential. Now I couldnâ€™t give a shit. Now I just want to get out, work on my script, faff about on Facebook, perform in a show, meet a friend for coffee, anything, ANYTHING but be on call.
Iâ€™m still good, hell, Iâ€™m great with my favorites, my regulars, the easy ones, but I have less patience than I once had for all the others, the motherfuckers and the boundary-pushers and the silent types. I have less patience, generally, with any caller who doesnâ€™t step up to it, meet me halfway, and play nice. Frankly, these are not criteria I can afford to have while working for a company. I donâ€™t get to specify that they have good conversational skills. Theyâ€™re not being screened for anything but a valid credit card number.
I have started to snap at the guys who pretend they donâ€™t care, and I say what I really think to the would-be extreme submissives. They donâ€™t hear my actual words, of courseâ€”I could say anything in that mocking tone of voice and they would integrate it into their turn-onâ€”but the fact that Iâ€™m not even pretending to load those diatribes with sexual content suggests that I might be heading up the final hill in this particular ride. I either need to suck it up, go independent, or get off the train.
Hereâ€™s the thing, though: I still havenâ€™t figured out where I make the transfer. Yeah, letâ€™s stick with the train metaphor. I donâ€™t know where I get off this route and move into some other money-making endeavor. I donâ€™t have the time or the cash cushion to just get off the train and wait for the exact other train that I want to pull into the station. I donâ€™t have that luxury. Whatever jump I need to make, that has to happen while both trains are in motion. In a dimly lit tunnel.
I can’t see what that other train is, you dig? That question is always there: â€œwhat else can I do to make money?â€ It doesn’t always bother me so much. When Iâ€™m feeling fine and my life-work balance feels right, Iâ€™m not soâ€¦ specific in my inquiries. It is a definite sign of impending burn-out that Iâ€™m eyeballing other income streams so very hard right now. â€¦
BOOK. What kind of book, what are those publishers? FREELANCING, maybe I should be doing more of that? PATREONâ€¦ hmmm, how do I find more patrons there, is that even a goal that can be targeted? How about ONLINE COURSES, dirty talk and relationship advice and what-not? Which of my existing writings can be readily converted to that? How about getting those SMUT SLAMS locked in tight, in lots of different places? What about super-niche EROTICA? How can I finally break into VOICE-OVER WORK? How will this all work with TOURING?
My mind has been running overtime latelyâ€”SOMETIMES IN ALL CAPSâ€”and itâ€™s hella uncomfortable. My brain overheats; every single option that I look at is self-employed and start-up as fuck. SOMETIMES I GET TIRED OF BEING A ONE-WOMAN ART-PROJECT INCUBATOR. But it feels like the only way out.
In some respects, I have phone sex to thank for this whole stressful, too-many-choices situation. Yes, it started out the only way I could put food in my belly, but it eventually led me to things I feel strongly about, which turned out to be things that some other people feel strongly about, too. But now? Iâ€™ve got all these ideas and no patience whatsoever for bosses or fuckwits.
I donâ€™t think I can trust phone sex to get me out of this, though. It gave me momentum. I’m gonna have to make that jump on my own.
Become a patron of mine on Patreon. It’s like fuel for my booster rockets.