It’s quiet this week, too quiet.

Yesterday, after 95 days of unemployment, My Engineer Husband (MEH) started a new job. No question, a writer’s life can be pretty solitary, and I miss the companionship and conversation. As I sit and write, an empty chair by my side, my only distraction is the new hangman game on fReado.

It might sound strange, but one of the things I miss most about having MEH around is his animated enthusiasm for new technology and the random science facts he reads about on the Internet….things like:

  • His obsession with gmail and google calendar and apparently all things google—how you can “slice and dice” items in your inbox, the danger yet advantage of cloud storage, and how cool it would be to write an app for google.
  • The funny story about the tree octopus. A literacy researcher at the University of Connecticut conducted an experiment to see if students would believe in the tree octopus, created for a hoax science website, just because it was on the Internet. Apparently they did, leading to the conclusion that students doing research on the Internet have difficulty discerning fact from fiction.
  • The “Mastering Workflow|Processing & Organizing Flowchart” from the David Allen Company, that we now have framed and sitting on the desk. This diagram, using software symbols, is the path to help you get things done or at least slice and dice your way through your gmail inbox.
  • A Madagascar spider—“caught on film, how cool is that???!!”—that lives in abandoned snail shells suspended from bushes. I refused to watch the movie because, even though I started out as a zoology major before switching to journalism, spiders scare me.

All this to say that writing ideas and inspiration come from places you might least expect, like engineering flowcharts and spiders hanging from bushes in shells—and even from the solitude that is the most basic fact of life we writers face.

Postscript: I don’t want to leave this day’s blog without adding that (probably needless to say) we met the end of unemployment with great joy and relief. As with many other individuals and families who are still dealing with unemployment, we faced serious, potentially devastating consequences when we lost MEH’s salary. My heart and thoughts go out to all of you who are coping as we are with this overwhelming, life-changing struggle.


  1. Becca says:

    Julia I was re-reading some of your past posts and I’m smiling at the synchronicity in our lives. I have been working as a technical writer for the past 10 years, in the medical and legal fields. My husband is also an engineer, who lost his job in the “great crash” of 2009. He returned to full time employment last June, and I quit my office job to spend more time writing.

    I also have two dogs who provide numerous daily distractions, but I love them to pieces. As I do my brand new grandson who was born just seven weeks ago 🙂

    I love your blog and your writing, and feel as if I’ve found a kindred spirit!

  2. Hi Becca, Thanks for commenting on this almost-year-old post — it was back in my early days so it never got any comments; that’s so nice of you! It does sound like we’ve had very similar paths, doesn’t it? I’m so glad your husband found full-time employment — must be a huge relief to both of you. I really enjoyed the time that MEH was home even though we were constantly worried. Now that he’s working again, it’s given me a little more freedom with my writing. And I’m so hoping this is “my year.” I look forward to getting to know you better over the year too — so glad we connected. (p.s. congratulations on your grandson! that’s a LONG way away for us!) So nice to meet you!