Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year. Blurg.

I think I'm full into the winter doldrums.

Had an invitation to a friend's house for brunch on New Year's but blew it off. Been cocooning, using the crummy, cold weather as an excuse. It's also given me plenty of time to mull over my inaction for the past several months.

Friends are kind enough to point out that I've been volunteering and learning more about the tour business, which is absolutely true. And I've done some writing, and thinking. But it still feels insufficient. I am not that much closer to anything profit-generating. Blurg, indeed.

So today I'm working up a schedule. There. I've said it. Now I have to be accountable to something concrete. A schedule. Get myself out of the easy chair and into the world, even if I'm just doing the research work and making contacts while sitting at Panera.

I think I've gotten myself too bogged in the grand scheme of things and not focused on the details. Big, grand things are scary. Details are a bit more manageable and feel more comfortable. This is nothing I didn't already know. It's just the matter of doing, rather than mulling. We all know how good I am at mulling. If mulling were a marketable product, I'd be a millionaire.

So... instead of thinking about how much I don't want to lead huge groups of senior citizens through the Museum of the Obvious, I'll think about how I become more of a niche guide. How do I market myself as an authority, someone who tells good stories and brings interesting people to interesting places for interesting experiences.

I did two more tours at Ellis Island yesterday, one being a group of two: a young couple from Germany who were curious as to how some relatives were sent back after trying to emigrate in the '50's. It became a custom tour as they asked questions up front that lent more to what's usually the last part of the discussion. I figured that since it was just the two of them, I'd modify the sequence a bit, and it worked very well.

Honestly, I was kind of impressed with myself. I know I forgot to mention a point or two on both tours, but who was to know? And I also got the Germans a little more information for further research on their emigration questions, based, in part, on some research I've been doing on my own family.

Of course, I'll also have to think about what I need to do to make money while I'm being a niche guide. The Ellis Island stuff has been helpful in keeping me from cocooning totally, but it ain't paying the bills. Do I find a not-so-high-level job that just about pays the food and board but gives me some latitude to follow my bliss? Do those jobs still exist for people with my skill set, or have they all become soul-sucking, 60 hour per week ordeals?

The motivating force here: do I go back to a life of quiet desperation, or do I do the hard stuff that gives me the autonomy I want? The old bromide is right: nobody ever plans to fail. They fail to plan.


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