In pursuit of joy

I’ve been drafting this post since the first day of the new year. I open it every day, multiple times a day. I type a few things here and there. I delete a few things here and there. I have yet to figure out exactly what I’m trying to say, but I feel the words inside me, like a great pressure building, desperate to get out.

 

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Everyone asks, What are your new year resolutions?

I never have a good answer. I don’t make resolutions, exactly. But I do think about the year ahead, ripe with possibilities. I do imagine what I want to achieve, and I do feel a renewed sense of determination and hopefulness.

All that sleeping in over the holidays probably helps.

From “The Open” by Caroline Wozniacki:

In the media, everyone is “up,” or “down,” or “on the rise,” or “in a slump.” In reality, the difference between winning and losing can often be very small. Proving yourself, over and over, to fulfill an outside perception of who you are as a player or person, can be a daunting task — an endlessly moving target.

Everyone asks, How is the writing going?

I never have a good answer. What happens between me and the page can be difficult or easy, slow or rapid-fire, tentative or confident, superficial or deeply honest. Most of the time it’s all of those things at once, somehow.

But what happens between me and the page isn’t what really matters to most people. Most people just want to see the tangible end results. They want to see the cover in the bookstore, the pages in print, the reviews on Amazon. Don’t get me wrong, I want to see those things too. But what I find hard to explain is that those things don’t necessarily mean that the writing is going well. And this, where I’m at right now, doesn’t necessarily mean the writing is going poorly.

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There is a voice in my head that runs in a constant loop, saying, Don’t ruin anything! Don’t mess up! Keep everything nice!

It’s not very helpful. Not for a creative. Not for a normal human being living in this beautifully imperfect world.

I guess one of my goals this year is to silence that voice. To embrace lines that aren’t straight and rooms that aren’t tidy and sentences that aren’t as eloquent as the thoughts in my head. To stop fearing mistakes and just learn from them instead. To live and play with abandon. To seek and create joy.

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6 Comments

  1. To quote my husband “Artists are messy”. It drives him nuts, but you know, creativity requires a mess sometimes. If everything always has to go in the same place, or be the same way, life would be pretty boring. Be a mess, be joyful. Feel the mud between your toes. That’s not ruining things, that’s living! (Also I think most other writers know what you mean about the writing.)

    • LOL I’m actually super tidy… It’s like the physical clutter makes my brain feel icky. But I’m learning to separate it out, to un-clench, to be OK with mud between my toes (eeewww….). :P

  2. Oh, you describe the writing process so beautifully, so perfectly. I especially love the last part: where we are now is important on some level yes, but like you said, the writing itself matters, too. Sometimes those things go hand-in-hand, and sometimes they’re each an entity all their own. Thank you for the reminder. :)

    I love your goals. Embrace and enjoy them!

  3. Yogadog

    I’m neat as well. I tell people that I need my external space to be organized because it’s so cluttered and messy inside my head.

    I like how you think about success. It took me many years to realize that what made me feel successful often had nothing to do with how others defined success. It’s such a personal thing, like art. It’s silly that we think there is a universal definition.

    New thing you can’t talk about? Do tell.

    • Haha, I will, soon! It’s not as exciting as I am making it sound by being mysterious… but it is a nice little writing-related opportunity that I’m honored to be part of.

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