This one’s for the postponers, the scared, and the chronically avoidant.
Last month, moody weather meant my flight out of New York was delayed and then cancelled. Since there were a whopping three airline employees to deal with several hundred people, and since I was still in chat-mode from attending the RWA National conference, I talked with fellow passengers as we waited to be rescheduled. I noticed two things:
- From the soft-spoken gentleman in front of me, to the toddler who howled as he tugged on his afro, none of us were pleased with the delay.
- It changed exactly nothing. We were all going home regardless. Didn’t matter if it required a bus ride, a layover, or a crooked-neck snooze in the lounge before an inconvenient flight, the ultimate destination was fixed.
This reminded me in turn of a quotation. I offer it, not because I want to push a particular book on you, but because it speaks to inevitability and makes me laugh in rueful recognition:
This is A Course in Miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time.
Replace “miracles” with “writing” and doesn’t that feel true and comforting in a bizarre way? What that says to me is that no matter how long we take to learn the craft, discipline, and professionalism of writing — no matter how long we search to find the substance of our contribution — we’re always on our way there. Even if our feet point the wrong direction in any given moment.
Chances are, if you’re here, writing is part of your “home” and you’ve known that from your childhood. Maybe you made it part of your life’s foundation from the beginning; maybe you confined it to the decorative brickwork. Perhaps it’s only one image in the digital photo frame flickering over your mantle. Whatever the case, you’ve probably spent months, years, entire careers waiting to give it a bigger role.
But you never really escaped, did you? You either wrote or you didn’t, but part of you knew your time off was defined as much by the not-writing as what you accomplished. After all, we are as defined by our avoidance as our pursuits.
Consider this post a gentle nudge into deeper proactivity. What do you need to do to get to your writing home faster? Turn off the Internet an hour a day? Commit to a weekly word count in public and – gulp – keep your word? Give yourself permission to write a fetid, oozing first draft that confirms the cruelest complaints of your harshest critic? Brave a new critique group? Allow yourself to feel deserving?
You know what you need to do. You know.
My name is Jan O’Hara. I’m finishing this manuscript’s first draft by August 31 even if I must write around the plot holes that presently torture me. I will trust my mind to come through for me, eventually. I will brave the hardware store for the Plot Spackle, even if that means trailing my husband down the electrical aisle. (The unlikely location of his personal bliss.)
Peeps, if I’m willing to brave the Home Depot, and this store doesn’t even have coffee, what bolder things will you claim?
If you’re ready, please tell us in the comment section.