Photo: The clivia bloomed today! So beautiful! I’m really pleased!
I was feeling really triumphant last week when I started writing my Quiet Thoughts. I’d gotten my first payment as an independent freelancer and I was feeling over the moon about it. I was also pumped for Major, who was basking in the glow of his own triumph. We’d worked hard on different challenges and we were rewarded for it. Sometimes life is simple like that.
This week, my two little boys are exhausted from a day of swimming. Really, they are exhausted from a week of playdates, swimming, running around and fun. They had a fantastic week. They are having a great summer. I am sitting here feeling the same degree of fatigue, but with a little less satisfaction. I just didn’t have enough time to give to writing this week and that’s making me a little sad.
I’m blogging about my writing because it was an underlying theme this week. A deadline for submissions to a literary magazine came up and I decided to dust off an old story and submit it. A writing partner who I hadn’t heard from in a while called me up out of the blue to tell me about an exciting new development in her career and a few opportunities out there that I hadn’t known about. A friend in my writing group sent me the first few chapters of her novel to read and critique. I, in response to a few poignant questions from a dear friend, decided to purchase a few new writing books to keep me in the game…
but I didn’t write. I submitted, I critiqued, I encouraged, I read… but I didn’t write. I freelanced, I got paid, but I didn’t write. And I’m angry about it… because I got every ounce I could out of all of my days this week, but I couldn’t do that. Which means I’m not any closer to finishing a project or meeting my goals.
I think I’m also feeling annoyed because one of the books that I purchased pissed me off. I won’t link it here because I don’t want to give it any publicity and the woman deserves to sell her books if she wants to, but the first chapter really pissed me off. Citing a sort of distillation of the Silicon Valley start-up mindset, she insists that writers use data to tweak their habits in order to figure out their “best” writing days; listing out variables and their outputs, tweaking until you find the absolute optimal day. “Studies show it takes 3 weeks for new behaviors to become habits,” she lectures. “So it will take time to figure out what works best for you.” She finally concludes that her method and “mindset” may not be for everyone. “This is only for serious writers.” She concludes (emphasis mine).
Writers write. No excuses. Serious writers get it done. Nothing gets in the way. Ever. You write if you want it badly enough. If you want to be a writer badly enough, you write. It’s just what you do. Serious writers don’t make excuses.
Fucking augh. Where there is truth (the only way to be a writer is to write), delivery matters.
I don’t begrudge the data-driven. I just dislike it when the data-driven decide that their’s is the only way. How can it be that art, luck, chance, and wisdom are figments of the imagination? Is it true that spreadsheets, numbers and the scientific method are the only valid points of evaluation and discussion?
I don’t begrudge those who have broken through every barrier. I simply wish they could acknowledge a world where obstacles are real and some of us are mortal. Is it healthy to decide that those who succeed are the rule rather than the exception? Is there something wrong when we decide that theirs are the drives that we must all aspire to emulate?
I suppose maybe the book is spurring me to ask a question that I’m afraid to ask:
What if I can’t do this?
Not because I don’t have the chops for it, but simply because I don’t have the lifestyle to make it so?
Is mothering an excuse or is it my job? Can I pursue this dream and also be good at my job?
Maybe all mothers ask this question of themselves. I answered it five years ago and I didn’t have any regrets then. Is the choice really so different now?
My Quiet Thoughts are wondering about the wanting. What is it to “want” and how does it look? Can you “want” enough, truly? Can “want” be measured, evaluated? If one tries and fails, is it really because they didn’t “want” it enough? At what point do the other factors come in? Are there any other factors that matter?
I suppose I’m back to patience, the lesson that my son learned a week ago. How much patience do I have for myself? How much patience do I have for the life that I’m living now? If I choose to do a little every day, to learn a little something, to try a little something, to even fail at whatever it is that I’m doing… if I choose to play the long game, waiting out this summer, maybe even going through one more less-than-productive school year… will it pay off in the end?
I suppose that a little faith has to be part of that, too. Do I have faith in myself and what I have to offer? Do I have faith in the elements of this life that I do not control?
Is there a column on the data sheet for those two things?
Dear Reader, it’s Friday. If you’re here in the States, I hope you are just starting a wonderful long weekend. If you aren’t, I hope that you are still looking forward to a few relaxing days, full of family and adventure. Indeed, Dear Reader, I have wishes for you. I wish you a few good questions to ask and to answer. I wish you great people to spend a bit of your time with, people who fill your jar and move you forward with encouragement and good stories. I wish you excellent food, prepared by expert hands, and time enough to savor and make a memory. I wish you the whisper of the summer breeze moving through the fully-leafed trees, bringing your attention to the deep, dark green of high summer. I wish you a soft tuft of grass to sit on, good live music playing somewhere yonder, and melodies and beats that are good enough to make you swing and sway. When was the last time you danced, Dear Reader? Or sang? Make it happen this weekend. Sing with the fullness of your heart, throat and lungs. Dance with your entire body. Smile for yourself and the people around you. Give more than a little of yourself this weekend. Don’t forget to tell someone how much you love them. Don’t forget to listen and accept when someone tells the same in return. Relish in the fact that you are loved, Dear Reader. You are worthy of it.
While I plan to post on Monday, I can’t guarantee that I will. The Husband is threatening to put us all in the car to go see fireworks. Fireworks don’t start until 9:30 ’round here. We’d have to get there early to get a parking spot. This seems like the set up for a long, uncomfortable day… so… we’ll see.
So, until Monday (or Wednesday!), be jubilant, be brave, be kind, be bold and take care.