Just returning from Writers Conference, and I’m simultaneously coming down from the high and nursing the exhaustion that accompanies these types events. This was my fourth- and easily most valuable – conference. Every year, I gain some nugget of wisdom that rejuvenates me, rekindles my inspiration, reminds me why I love this particular brand of creativity. And this year, I left feeling utterly hopeful.
I always say tutoring pays the bills but writing feeds my soul. It’s true. Although I find my day job immensely rewarding, it’s the writing that sets me free. This has been more and more true over the last 6 years as my life has taken a number of turns. When my children were little, I found it tricky to carve out time for creativity. But as they grew and my marriage fell apart, I (happily) embarked on a new path. The call to create never left me. It waited, patiently, for me to be ready.
As I build my tribe and learn more about this process, the take-away for me this year is this: the destination is unknown and it’s not even the point. No one sits down knowing how to write a best-seller (except maybe Jonathan Maberry). If you’re only looking at that as your endgame, you’re missing the point. I don’t sit down and write every day because I think I’m creating the next Harry Potter. Or that my brilliant prose will surely and certainly be noticed and hailed by Oprah. (Okay. I’m lying. I might fantasize about that a little bit…)
I write because I love it. I love creating. I love the challenge. I love that it’s not easy, that it’s fun, that I can make something original and tell the story that’s unique to me. And maybe some people will think, hey, that’s cool. And maybe no one will, but the point is I enjoyed the process.
So much of what I’m learning about writing and my creative process I can apply to life in general. We humans can be a little “Once I get (fill in the blank), I’ll finally be happy.” Or, “If I only (lost ten pounds, had a million dollars, made partner, had a cute boyfriend, got married, wrote that bestseller, lived in Italy…) life would be complete.”
Dear Reader, you don’t have to admit it to me, but do you have a fill in the blank? A thing you’re thinking will solve all your problems if and when you finally get it?
Between the wish and the thing, are you enjoying the life you’re living?
I listened to a podcast a few weeks ago that asked this very thing. I’m nodding along…yeah, that makes sense, and yeah, I do a pretty good job of enjoying life without having everything I want. But then, he specifically used dating as an example. And I’m all “screeeeeeech”.
Hmmmm. Dating. Dating? I have to LIKE dating? Because this is a process I can’t say I love. Especially: online. Sure, there are aspects of it that are fun. And I have met some great people – two of my best friends in the world actually grew out of online connections. But, mostly, I find online dating a chore.
So I struggled with this one. And it kept nagging at me. To be clear, I don’t think “finding the one” will be the answer to all my prayers. I don’t need someone to complete me or fix me or make all my dreams come true. But, I simply don’t enjoy dating.
But wait. Who says the process of being single is exclusively about dating? And which parts of the process do I actually like?
I love that there is something to look forward to. That I don’t know what’s coming, but I’m excited. Almost like waiting for Christmas! I like that it could happen any time, and won’t that be a lovely surprise? I like that my plans are my own. I can decide to go out, or I can decide to stay home. I can stay up late, or go to bed early. I can sleep-in, or get up early (usually I sleep in…) I can watch TV, or not. I can decide I’m gonna run in the morning, and then decide to roll over and turn off the alarm. I can plan a trip to wherever I want to go. I can go out with my friends as much as I want. (Well, not really, cause I have kids, but still). I can sleep diagonally in my bed. I can pick the restaurant, the movie, the concert, the whatever. I can eat hummus even though that sometimes – okay, always – results in some unpleasant after effects. I can watch Friends more than any human probably should, but I can do it and no one can complain (except my kids, but this is Mama’s House).
You get the point. I’m getting a lot out of my journey and I can and will continue enjoying all of this, partner or not. (Okay, maybe I shouldn’t watch Friends so much, and maybe I won’t always get to pick where we go. I’m not unreasonable. And maybe no hummus because that’s embarrassing. But most of the stuff stays.)
Well, would you look at that? In my quest to learn more about writing, I learn about life. And that’s kind of cool.
Between the wish and the thing, life lies waiting. Destination unknown.