*photo by moi
I warned everyone a while back that I was on a journey? A mission? A quest? Pick any grand, descriptive word you like, but I’m trying to figure out who I am now. Or who I’m becoming. I’m a caterpillar!
This won’t be a long blog, by any means. Just a drive by share of something that really hit home with me this week. The key words in life should be: Fun and Surrender.
Now, I think of myself as a fun person. But I am learning fun should go into everything. Life, raising kids, cooking, driving, thinking, writing. And it’s that last one that I was having difficulty with lately. I had quite a few days these last few weeks where I wondered where I was going with my writing. The ‘game’ as it were was feeling too overwhelming to me. Too confusing and too tumultuous. You don’t have to be a writing/publishing genius to figure out that the publishing industry is topsy turvy at the moment. Some stuff is good. Some stuff is bad. It all sort of swirls and whirls together at any given moment and can feel like that time, when I was in my teens, that my sister and I got stuck in a riptide.
We both got sucked out and my sister (very short) decided (because she is insane) that she was going to swim (against a riptide) and threw her raft away. I had no choice but to drop mine because she, well…started to sink. So there we were, not touching ground, me bobbing up and down in the water taking breaths when I could with her on my shoulders so she could breathe. It was overwhelming, confusing and terrifying.
That’s how publishing and the whole game of being a writer has felt to me lately.
Part of it is my mood. Part of it is what I’ve just been through in the last 18 months. And part of it is just the nature of the beast.
I wasn’t having fun. I was, in fact, quite miserable and considering quitting. For real. Not a melodramatic fling of the hand and “I’m so awful at this I’m going to quit” kind of thing. Just quietly…stop.
The problem is, I can’t stop. I’m a writer. I’ll write whether I’m paid or not. If no one knew my name or my work, I’d write. If they outlawed writing and I could face jail time for doing it, I’d still write. It’s how I process the world, my emotions, my dreams, my hopes, my fears and all the stuff in between.
So I thought, something’s gotta give.
I went with my intuition. I created a new pen name and I started a book I really wanted to write for…FUN. There are no expectations, from myself or readers, for an unknown name. Just a chance to spill out a story that’s dying to be created and put it out there. So, fun—check.
The next thing is, I started brainstorming with another writer who I admire and love and think is amazing and we started to have fun with our ideas together. What a jolt. Like being electrocuted, but ya know—in a good way.
I felt lighter and excited and vibrant. Everything I was not feeling when I was focused on what I THOUGHT I should do and what I was convinced I NEEDED to do.
Which brings me to the surrender part. I put it out there that I was unhappy and wanted to be happy again. I wanted to feel a visceral reaction to my writing again. To the process. I wanted to wake up eager to hit the keyboard and get shit done and let my brain gallop like a runaway horse and love every minute of it.
So, I surrendered the shoulds, the needs, and the thinks and went with my gut. I’m still doing it. I have to practice it every day, because, this might come as a shock to you (prob not) that I am an uber control freak. An uber control freak who just cared for her husband for 18 months during a debilitating, cruel, painful illness before watching him die. All things I could not control. No matter how hard I tried. It was beyond my control and I had to surrender to the process with as much love, compassion, patience and gratitude for our nearly 20 years together that I could muster.
That lesson has gone beyond the whole caregiver thing now. It’s passed into the rest of my world. I am surrendering all my preconceived notions and all the ideas that I should be telling the universe how things should happen and instead, doing what I do best, focusing on the joy of my work, working my ass off (you still gotta do the work) and waiting to see what opportunities pass my way and what unfolds.
I gotta tell ya, it feels good. Much better than the closed in, claustrophobic misery I was experiencing a few weeks ago.
I’m glad I didn’t have to quit, or at least, fade out of publishing. I’m glad I was able to listen when that door opened and that voice whispered, and I’m glad I got the chance to run with what seemed like crazy ideas but are turning out to be rather lovely.
More than glad, I’m grateful.
p.s. If you’re wondering, my sister and I were rescued by a buff lifeguard. She got to shore, went “Whew, that was crazy!” tossed up her hand, grabbed a coke and was fine. I collapsed on the beach and sobbed for what felt like an eternity after keeping my shit utterly together the entire time we were constantly on the verge of drowning. The thing I learned that day: I panic after, she panics during. If you think about it, it’s actually divine. We balanced each other out and we both survived unharmed. Our rafts were even recovered ;)
p.p.s. Sorry, this was way longer than I originally thought. So, I sorta lied to you ;)