D and I bonded over writing way back when. Both of us write, but D has always been more disciplined than I am about it. He writes works and completes them; I start a million different projects then abandon them when I get bored.
As the pace of our lives has picked up and the day-to-day doesn’t look like it did five years ago, I put writing on the back burner. It seemed the obvious choice to go. There are only so many hours in my day, and almost everyone needs them. I don’t resent this or even mind it most of the time, but I couldn’t deal with trying to squeeze a creative outlet in with the already ever-present demands in front of me.
D never gave up. He somehow helped me co-parent our herd while completing a novel, an amazing novel that is now in the revisions phase and that I cannot wait for other people to read it. I help him revise, and I am addicted to this work like it is crack on paper. He has a gift. He prioritized what he loved, and he treated it as a discipline, which is a task I never bothered to try.
While I was admiring Dennis’ abilities, I was also reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. (Confession: I am not as enamored with Lamott as most people who read her work. I liked Bird by Bird best of all her books I’ve read, and I think she’s an amazing writer. However, most people who have read her start their own fan clubs and try to collect locks of her hair. I did not fall in love with her that way. Sorry. I feel somehow responsible for this.) Anyway, Bird by Bird is a book about writing and was recommended to me in 2007 by another writer, Ken Gire. I didn’t read it because I guess it wasn’t the right time in my life. I needed the message saved for a few months ago when I turned through the pages and found truths I needed to hear, answers to the questions in my mind?
Ø Why write? Because I need to write, every day, something.
Ø What about publication? It probably won’t happen, and if it does, it probably won’t make us rich. But that’s not the goal. Satisfaction in creating is satisfaction in itself.
Ø What if it’s awful? Revise a ton. First drafts are supposed to be awful.
Dennis knew this and had been trying to spread the message to me for years. However, I was too productively minded, even giving up on blogging for a while because I couldn’t figure out why I was doing it. Enjoying blogging and journaling our lives didn’t seem tangible enough. I don’t make money- nor do I particular desire to-from the blog; it’s not leading to publication; it’s just me writing. Lamott and D told me that was enough, and I finally had ears to hear it.
This revelation led to me picking up work on a novel I’ve been dreaming about, researching, and dabbling with for almost three years. Again, I shelved it due to the what-ifs: what if it never gets published? What if I have to take it very slowly with all the other hats I wear? What if it is just downright awful? D and Lamott’s answer: I will still have a book that I wrote, created, completed. That’s enough.
So, I’m helping revise D’s book, which I hope is published because it would be a disservice to humanity if it wasn’t (I’m only being slightly dramatic because it is AMAZING!) And I’m writing pretty much every day, something besides a grocery list or a reminder to call or email someone. It feels good. God gave us joy in certain tasks, and I enjoy writing. That, in itself, is enough.