I was looking back through some archived blog posts tonight, searching for inspiration actually. I love looking back one year from this day to see where I was, two years, etc—imagining where I was at that moment, what I couldn’t then see ahead of me—all with some amazing clarity, since I chose to write down so much of what I was feeling.
Before blogging, I was able to do that via my journals, but I always grew impatient when writing just for myself and often gave a shortened version of what I was dealing with, going through or experiencing at the time. I would write in a form of shorthand, knowing I understood what I was referring to and annotating.
For a long time, I had only seven followers on my blog- I remember all of their names even now. But, I was writing FOR someone; sharing things so personal that I would normally save only for my journal. But, I had to articulate things, make someone understand my warped thinking—in a sense—translate what was going on inside my head and heart for someone else to understand.
And it changed and improved my writing—actually made me a better writer. And for as long as I can remember, that is all I have wanted to be. About five years ago, I worked through a book that was supposed to help you map out your dreams, step by step, following a five year plan to get you to the place you wanted to be. What I liked about it was that five years didn’t seem unrealistic or lofty. It seemed sensible and levelheaded. I can’t count how many times I have picked up books like “Write a Novel in One Month!”, or “Quit your Job Today!”. All of that seemed so tempting, and the book flaps made it seem truly possible—even easy-- to turn a page from my current life and step into the one I really wanted. I have read stories of artists and writers who have done those things- with great success. But to me, especially being on my own and supporting myself, it was only a pipe dream, maybe a possibility if I won the lottery or came into an inheritance from some unknown relative.
So, the five year plan seemed doable. And long story short, if I had followed course, I would be working as a full-time writer right now. Maybe not a rich or famous one, but piecing my life together by one or more sources, making my living by being paid to write. And of course, hopefully making that novel I have been working on for oh, FOREVER, actually ready to submit to someone.
And then, the rest of my life took shape, blossomed actually. Nowhere in my five year plan did I see myself married, happy and living a five minute walk from the ocean. It was so clear to me looking back at the making of this five year plan, that I had undoubtedly given up on other things happening for me, things that I wanted, but just didn’t think were going to become a reality. I am so, so thankful that I was wrong. I am in a place now that brings me such peace with who I am, and with all of my personal struggles. I am loved by someone who knows everything about me, who I am completely myself with, who knows my deepest flaws, and my hidden dreams, and sees me as I have wanted to be seen. I am with someone who has made my life. He also wants me to have everything I want; wants desperately for my dreams to come true.
So, this is a great place to be. I wouldn’t change a thing. I have realized, however, that one of the reasons I was such a prolific writer for the last few years (even if it was only for seven people), was because I was on my own so much—quite frankly—I had the time. I had more time than I knew what to do with. More time than I wanted alone. And loneliness, for me, also breeds creativity. I have a new normal now. From this place of happiness, and a full life of real experiences, dinners with my husband, walks on the beach with our dog, time with our friends, weekend trips and plans—I have to carve out time to write—and at times, it seems almost selfish. If I say I need to write, my sweet husband will drop everything and rearrange time for me to have whatever I need. But, I have never been one to “plan” when I write. Things come to me, and I have to (like now at 5:28am for instance) strike while the iron is hot.
So, in looking back at my blog, and in seeing my tote bag full of the current Writer’s Market and a few (very dated) writer’s magazines, I realize I haven’t been writing nearly as much as I did a year ago, and not nearly as much as I want to--and definitely not enough to get me anywhere near my five year plan. And yesterday morning, when I woke up and looked across the room at my laptop and my red notebook of ideas I keep with me all the time, I thought—Why am I pressuring myself? No one is judging me; no one is giving me a deadline, I don’t HAVE to do this.
And then, this quote came across my feed on twitter: “Real writers are those who want to write, need to write, have to write.”- Robert Penn Warren.
I stared at those words, and read them again slowly and thought—yes. It almost isn’t a choice. No matter what success I achieve, no matter what the results, I want to write, need to write, have to write. It is as much a part of me as anything else.
I love how one quote can put words to my heart, and motivate me…one simple string of words that lights a fire somehow. I am a quote collector, with an arrangement of sticky notes with quotes meaningful to me that decorate my office and home. And every now and then, one comes along at just the right moment.
A friend sent me a note a few weeks ago reminding me that I needed to JUST WRITE. Stop worrying about if it was worthy, or perfect, or terribly interesting. Just write- put it out there. I DO worry about blog posts, especially, wanting the content to mean something, be true to myself, to give that feeling that I love—that I get when I read other blogger’s posts.
But, she is right-I need to JUST WRITE. It is really how I got started in blogging. Writing about whatever I wanted, truly thinking out loud. So, here’s to finding my way back to that place, in this wonderful “new normal”, where I live now, that five years ago wasn’t even in the plan.