Last night my husband spent the night at the ER for pain that ended up being kidney stones. Ouch! What does this have to do with writing you ask? Bear with me, because this might be a windy explanation.
Many years ago, I was a young girl that liked stories. Somewhere on that journey, I got the message, my imagination was a waste of time. Spending time living in other worlds wasn’t worthy, and at some point my passion for exploring my interests got snuffed out. So I got on with all the things a normal teenager does. Dragging myself to school, reading what I was told to, and other high-schooly things.
Only recently, many years later, I figured out something I’d missed for many years through this quote that had been nagging me, “Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple – or more difficult. Difficult, because to trust children we must trust ourselves – and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.” ~John Holt
Now, part of what had been bothering me was I was trying to relate this quote only to my children. But oddly, I think all the discouragement I’d received years ago prevented me from fully grasping that much of this quote had to do with healing myself. So while chatting with a friend, pushing my daughter on a park swing, I realized, I’d always wanted to be a writer. And I’d let those fears and naysayers get in the way of my passion for exploring that path.
I’m not a spring-like chick anymore. I’m years past the time one decides what they want to be when they grow up. Not sure where I should begin on this journey to write portions of the story that had lived in my head for close to twenty-five years, I contacted one of my friends that had written and published a book. She gave me writing book recommendations and told me where she began with each story. I mapped it out, and did my best to have a focussed plan.
I voraciously dug into my first draft, writing sometimes over 3,000 words a day. Then, another close friend found this writing community and convinced me to join. Now, I’m a bit of a skeptic. I don’t like being monitored, I don’t like deadlines, or hard rules. Part of that is because I actually want to do the “right thing” and that alone can put a brick wall between me and creativity. The fear of messing up I guess.
But the first months on that site I ended up eating up all the information I could learn. Suddenly, I could fix many issues in my writing with helpful critiques, and tips I’d gotten from insightful posts. I made friends, developed colleagues, and was bursting with new ideas. There was this whole other world that involved building a following, making a brand. An overwhelming feeling to my introverted self.
I became stressed. Obsessed. Everything started to revolve around needing to write, needing to do it faster, and needing to get a handle on my social media presence. I was overwhelmed with my real life as a mom, as a wife, as my children’s teacher, with my home, and with my photography business. All of those activities were overshadowed with thoughts of what I wasn’t doing with writing, and guilt for not being able to manage. In fact, those feelings became so strong, I was paralyzed from getting much writing done at all.
Then, as I watched my writer friends struggle as they raced ahead of me into the publishing world, I was hit with the fact I wasn’t happy anymore. I’d become unbalanced, with writing sinking the scale. I didn’t enjoy the moments with my kids like I used to, and I wasn’t so present with my husband. Writing wasn’t fun anymore, and writing was the world I lived in. I needed a change.
I turned within myself for days at a time, focusing on my life again, and while sad that I wasn’t progressing quickly with my writing, I had to let that go. One of the first things that became clear was how much I’d gotten away from my initial goal at writing Prisoner of Purity; I had just wanted to write. I wanted to tell this story that had engaged my mind for most of my life. My dream was for others to enjoy it, others to connect with it. To get some kind of validation that I could write, and to spend time discussing the characters with someone else.
At this moment, I can tell you that’s already happened, with my writing friends. If I never made a cent with this story, as long as I finish, I’ve succeeded with my original goal. People have enjoyed it, been engaged, and wanted to discuss it with me. I’m far from finished, and not in any way an expert, but I’ve grown so far from where I began.
So that leads me back to the beginning. This writing journey is so much a part of myself. It’s a journey I’m eternally grateful for. But it’s a part of my life, not the whole. Which means I need to take moments to enjoy the present, being as close to fully there when my family and friends need me as I can be. Laugh more, live more, stress less, and make the moments that I set aside to write count. Oddly, I’m accomplishing more writing this way, even though I’m worrying about it less. That saves the worry for times when my hubby is stuck in an ER in the middle of the night with a kidney stone, keeping the emotional focus where it should be. Which is exactly what I did last night and today. Along with playing with my kids.