I recently stumbled across some parenting advice that resonated deeply with me, and if you’ll bear with me, I’ll explain why I think it’s valuable for us to consider in regards to our writing too.
Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.
– William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents
As a mother, it’s hard for me to look at my two-year-old daughter and not imagine all the amazing things she could do and become. Obviously I want the best for her, and I believe her to be full of limitless potential, capable of reaching the highest heights.
But is it fair to ask that of her? Is it best for her to feel that kind of pressure?
Or would it be better to follow where she leads, and to nurture her interests and skills as they make themselves known? To teach her that life is not a ladder that needs to be climbed to the top, but rather a playground to be explored and enjoyed?
Writers tend to be big dreamers, so it’s no surprise that when we look at our work, we see vast possibilities and hope for resounding success. And don’t get me wrong, hope and possibility are wonderful things.
But over the past few years, I have come to believe that setting them aside is better for the work.