Falling Off the Writing Discipline Wagon

All of the hazards to daily writing  happened at once.  I fought a nasty virus, took a vacation, and finished a huge writing project all in the same month.  Any one of those events could stop me from a disciplined writing practice for a week or two. butterfly down But when they happened almost simultaneously over a relatively short period of time, I felt like a butterfly with broken wings–incapable of movement and uncertain about how to repair myself.

I wanted to celebrate the writing project that had taken me years to complete, yet because that project was a memoir, along with that effervescent bubbling of joy over a writing dream fully realized, I felt emotionally depleted .  There was such a back and forth motion to my moods—first, elation and pride, then an overwhelming rush of the re-experiencing of the life events I’d written about in the memoir (and some I didn’t write about,) followed by a feeling of dread (oh no, the querying process awaits and what writing project am I going to focus on next?)—that I felt battered.  Where was my usual calm?  What had happened to the IV drip of inspiration I craved?  The daily writing that anchored me?

Yes, I know I’m being hard on myself.  I should allow myself permission to rest, to allow the well to fill up again before dipping the bucket in and expecting an overflow.  But that’s not how I operate.  I need the writing to feel whole.  In so many ways, the writing is what fills up the well.  butterfly upSo, I write a little every day, building up my writing muscles again, recognizing that in taking baby steps, I’m moving forward.  I’m repairing myself.

The butterfly may have broken wings, but in almost every case, she can still fly.

Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

I don’t care what we’re talking about–careers, personal goals, relationships, simple tasks–I’m forever taking two steps forward and one (or two) steps back.  Even the best of intentions don’t hold up under everyday pressures.  I give myself a goal of writing for two to three hours a day, but then a family crisis intervenes.  I’m determined to stay calm and unaffected when people cut me off in the car or leave their grocery cart in the middle of the aisle, (how trivial are these things, anyway?),  but I still get steamed anyway.  It really shouldn’t be so hard to improve, right?  I know old habits die hard, but still!  When you know you’ll be better off by doing something different, why can’t you just do it?  And keep doing it?

I tell myself that all this is beyond my control because life is complicated and the one thing that people fear most is change.  But I think the real issue is that there’s a comfort level with how I’ve been doing things.  I’m used to fighting for writing time; it’s never been easy, no matter what stage of life I’ve been in.  As far as staying calm and unaffected goes, my real worry is that if I lose my fiery instinctual responses, I will turn into a plastic, emotionless person and then not only will other people not want to spend any time with me, I won’t want to spend any time with myself.

So, maybe just having the goal is the point.  To try to improve is enough.  To keep the goal in mind is to at least see the carrot dangling in front of you and keep moving towards it, rather than not even realizing a carrot is worth pursuing. Even if I take two steps forward and two steps back, I can still see that carrot and I’m at least headed in the right direction whether I get closer or not.  Sometimes, the goal is all we need.

Love Is . . .

You’d think love would be one of the simplest concepts in the world.

Love makes the world go round.  All you need is love.  Love is patient, love is kind.  Certainly sounds simple.

And yet, somewhere along the way, you realize that love isn’t frilly pink or fiery red or perfectly shaped or even easily defined.  Love can be a noun, but that’s not where it lives and breathes. Love is a verb and not just any verb, but one of the most mind-bending, complex, and hard-working verbs ever invented. DSCN4918

For those of you who have been in committed relationships for eons, you learn that love isn’t a feeling.  It’s something you practice, something you devote yourself to, something you remind yourself is worth crawling through all the roadblocks for . . . on your stomach . .  in a pelting hailstorm.

Love doesn’t come to you.  You come to love.

You recognize that this commitment to love requires something of you.   Okay, it doesn’t just require.  It demands everything you have to give.

So what happens when you have given all that love demands of you, and yet, still there’s more havoc and complexity to contend with, not from your loved one, but from outsiders who’ve never even met you?  They have decided that your love isn’t acceptable despite the fact that your love demands more sacrifices and endures more pressures than they can even fathom. They don’t know you, yet they insist that your love is not entitled to the same rights and privileges as their own.  You see, they have equated your love with sin.  The fact that love and sin are even in the same sentence should be reason enough to pause and think . . . is this even possible?  Love makes the world go round.  Love is all you need.  Love is patient, love is kind.  Love is sin.  WHAT?

Oh yes, I know we all have a lot to say about this topic.  But especially on Valentine’s Day, let love be what it is:  love.  Love in all its complexity, all its forms, all its hard-working verbishness.

Happy Valentine’s Day to All!