Last week, the gym was slow again. Though my fitness center attendance has been sporadic at best over the last few months, I have had a membership long enough to know that the three day weekend in the middle of January is often when the New Year’s Resolutioners all but fizzle out. Then, the people who are there at 5:00 am M-F can go back to their routine.
A mere 22 days into the 365 that everyone promised was going to be their best year ever, how are your writing goals coming? Did you decide that trying was too hard, that you got caught up in the January enthusiasm and made a commitment that you really didn’t mean to? Maybe snow days, sick kids (or self), cold weather or winter blues have led you to believe that one more week of doing things as you’ve always done won’t really make that much difference, that you were pretty productive last year, and it turned out alright.
I’m convinced that the greatest plague of our society is apathy. Apathy for what we can be, for what we can achieve, for the places we can go. We celebrate the accomplishments of graduates and start-ups and people who finish something hard, but in the back of our minds, we admit that they will probably not do what they wanted. It’s hard, after all, and hard is hard. It’s easy to binge-watch Netflix. It’s easy to get caught in the habit of busyness at the cost of productivity. It’s easy to put things off because we don’t know how to make it perfect, and if it isn’t perfect, well, then people will know that we aren’t perfect and man, that would be EMBARRASSING.
So instead of just writing the book, we go back and go back. Instead of sending our work off for critique, we revise and revise and revise, not knowing whether we are making it better or worse, but that’s okay because at least we aren’t embarrassed about what we don’t know. We keep studying plot points and character development and ways to convey setting and the just right emotional cues and and and
We tell ourselves it’s too hard, that we don’t have a right to be exceptional, that the kinds of things that happen to other people could never happen to us. After all, we were born in (insert stereotypical location here) and people from (location) don’t ever (insert goal, dream, ambition).
There was that one who…
Everyone remembers when…
Of course, we can’t forget…
Our books, our creative work, our passion sits in us, fermenting because of prolonged preservation. And now something DOES start to stink and now we really are embarrassed so we toss it, never knowing if it was good or bad or anything and we are left with nothing but nodding and smiling and saying we are still “working on it.”
And when December 31st rolls around again, we make a resolution that next year will be our year, that we will really write that book, that we will really get our agent, that we will really hit publish.
Yes, there are people at the gym who are ridiculously healthy. Yes, there are people who have muscle definition that I didn’t even know was possible. Yes, it can be frustrating to be the person trudging along on a treadmill at something that is a hybrid between walking and jogging when the numbers next to you indicate six or seven or eight miles per hour.
Yes, there are people who have had incredible publishing luck. Yes, there are people who release best seller after best seller after best seller, who seem to make meager words on a page emerge like actual gold. Yes, there are people who release two, three, four books a year and it takes you months and months and months just to write one.
But here’s what I know. I’ve never met an “EXCEPT” who didn’t work. Hard. I’ve never met a success that simply manifested itself before me. I’ve never had a victory that wasn’t super balanced with defeat, discouragement and disappointment.
And when that victory was finally achieved, there was never a time when I said I wished it had come some other way.
Find the writing goals you made for this year. Read them OUT LOUD to yourself. Imagine what it will look like, feel like, when you achieve that. Then get to work.
Because there is no reason you can’t be the most exceptional person in your own life.
Tasha Seegmiller is a mom to three kids and high school English teacher in Southern Utah. She writes contemporary women’s fiction. Her loves include Diet Coke, owls, chocolate and cinnamon bears. She is the managing editor for the Thinking Through Our Fingers blog as well as the Women’s Fiction Writers Association quarterly magazine, where she also serves as a board member.