Tuesday, January 19, 2016

It's All About the Writing (or, My Insecurities For All to Read)

For the first time in ten years, since I've been writing, I'm finding myself unable to focus on the project at hand. Which is odd because my head and heart aren't as encumbered as they've been the past three years, so I should have all this room to write.

In part, it's my day job. I'm a professor, so I don't really have a job I can clock out of at 5 and then go home, kick back my feet, and suck down a glass of Cabernet. It's a job which I mostly love but which sucks me dry at times.

But even so, I should be able to get into my writing when that blasted alarm clock blares at 5:30 am. I DO get up, but even as I walk down the stairs telling myself to open word and not gmail, email, facebook, or that blasted twitter, I still do exactly that. Minutes pass, my hour goes, and I might have half-heartedly put in edits for a couple of pages.

I think the major reason I'm not into writing, though, is that I have two many projects. I have two books, finished, that need homes. I am pitching them, and this also seems to suck me dry--the tedium of researching agents, the tedium of writing query letters, the fear galloping ahead of me that these books will never reach the world, that I'm a hack, I'm wasting my time with this 'hobby'. The rejections slowly roll in, usually on a Friday afternoon (ever notice the timing of declines, fellow writers?), usually with some form of personalization but always with the latest market lingo, "I didn't connect with the writing the way I'd hoped to." 

And then there's The Minister's Wife, which I have just picked up again after a year. This work is a Mess. A Very Big Mess, and as I poke through pieces I realize I need a thousand pages to tell this story, it is too big, so what do I do? Change the story line? Reduce the POV characters? Make it into multiple projects with overlapping characters?

What really frustrates me is that all of the above isn't 'writing'. It's editing and revising, pitching and marketing, and I really feel I can't afford to stop these things because I need to get something published. And this need paralyzes me from writing new words, even though I have other ideas and projects lining up like jets on the runway waiting to take off.

I will plod along. This too shall pass. But I ache for more time to just write, I ache for some conclusion for the words I've already written. I ache for a modicum of validation that my writing is worthwhile, that it makes a difference.

How do you push past self-doubt? Any and all advice welcome. Peace...

Friday, January 01, 2016

Looking Forward...

I went to bed last night (well before the witching hour), plotting in my head the wise words I’d share today, the launch of a new year. I love the first day of a new year—it’s akin to shedding old clothes and wearing new, shiny togs. I was going to say something about a new year providing a new chance for hope, which led me to ponder what it was I hoped for. And of course, I hoped for calm and peace for my family, health and resilience for my children. But these are ‘things’ I can’t change, through persuasion or brute force; these are things I’m graced with, through luck or God or both.

I’ve said before I’m not one for resolutions, and I’m not, especially as I realize what I want most I can’t guarantee. But I can help shape peace and calm and health, and I can do this by living my best possible life. Two years ago, through necessity, I started to live my best possible life. Those of you who don’t know me but who might have met me at a conference or a grocery store would likely think to yourselves, “Jeesh, that woman, such a mess!” And I was a mess, but I was the best I could be at that time. Back then, there were days when getting myself on the metro to work was a triumph. Fear has a funny way of paralyzing me (maybe you, too?) but at some point something snapped in me and I got pissed off and decided to rub fear’s nose in my happiness. Which was feigned, but another funny thing is when you fake your joy and peace, it becomes a state of being.

As 2016 marches down its preordained road (and we get an extra day of joy this year), my game plan is to continue being the best possible me every second of this year. That means checking myself when I find impatience and frustration growing in my gut, approaching life as a listener rather than a talker, and establishing boundaries that provide the ability to be the best I can be. It also means forgiving myself when I screw up (and forgiving others when they do), because I (and others) will screw up—it’s part of our messy humanity. It means seeking daily balance in my physical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs, and keeping each well fed. Being the best possible me means having goals (not resolutions) and striving toward them. I want to tumble into my sheets each night feeling I accomplished much, have nothing to feel badly about, and knowing I did the best I could—and that I can do better.

So no expectations for dramatic change this year; merely paddling down the same creek in hopes the water and my work carve the earth ever deeper. What are your goals for this year? What paths are you hoping to meander down? 

Happy New Year, and peace...