I read about a famous author whose wife gave him five years to make it as a writer, saying that if he couldn’t make it in five years, he never would. He did and he succeeded on a massive scale. Hold that thought for a moment.
Today is cleaning day. Having recently mopped the family room tile, I decided to fold some laundry in my bedroom while it dried. Everyone in the house is sequestered into their own rooms either because of the wet flooring or otherwise. Normally surrounded by active family members, I found myself alone and with surprisingly quiet surroundings. Back in my room I proceeded with my chore. Shirts, socks, jammies. Hang, fold, roll. On and on, with the sound of the dryer tumbling in the background and my limbs on autopilot, my brain was lulled into a rhythmic hypnosis. I began to think about wanting things. Imagining myself as a speaker at a conference where someone said they didn’t write because of reason x. The individual was a middle aged, slightly obese man. On the podium with a projector screen behind me, I pictured myself telling him,
“This calls for tough love. You might not like it, but it will be the truth. There will never be a perfect symbiotic state for writing or anything else you want in life. It’s too sunny, too cloudy, too rainy. The excuses can be endless, if you let them. People don’t write because they found themselves in the optimal conditions. They wrote because they wanted to do it and they did, despite the dinners they had to cook or the forty hour work week they had to complete. Authors have written in the evenings, on the weekends, even at four a.m. in the morning. If you want to do something, you have to want it bad enough that you do it regardless of all the interruptions life throws at you.
Think about one accomplishment in your past. Were all the planets aligned? I doubt it. It seems like life has a way of throwing obstacles in the mix on a constant basis. Just met a girl you like? She gets a job offer on the other side of the country. Got a promotion? Welcome to buying a new car to replace the one you just totaled. Finally, got your life in order? Cue someone getting sick. That stinks and there is no way around that. But even in the worst of circumstances, you have the choice to turn it around. Write about the details of the disease. Write as catharsis. Describe the sound of the machines as you attempt sleep. Is the constant whirring relaxing because it means the person in still alive or does it become a nightmare that haunts your dreams?
Even the worst of times have value. Want to stop thinking about how terrible your life is right now? Write about a better one with butterflies or a worse one with tarantulas. The bottom line is, you accomplished Goal X not because everything was perfect, but because you were persistent in your task.”
Right now, we are all supposed to Stay Home. To most people, it’s such an unrealistic concept that they need ideas on how not to be bored out of their minds. Staying home is my life. The exception being I used to run more errands, now I don’t. You would think my life was optimal to write. I don’t need a list to teach me how to busy myself. Boredom is not in my vocabulary. Being a stay at home mom is more time consuming than when I had a forty hour office job. Even though life is easier now that the kids are in middle school versus when they were toddlers, I still find myself struggling to get all my to-do’s complete. I’ve tried different strategies, planning calendar events, making lists, setting alarms. All of which end up going by the wayside for one reason or another. Just this week my curve ball was that I made two complicated dinners, thus losing my Wednesday and Thursday writing time. That is until I analyzed my days. On Thursday I was done with most of my cooking preparations by three p.m. Then I took a shower, ate, read and watched television until I went to bed. There was a seven hour window when I could have turned off the television or closed the book to write one of my own. I chose to unwind instead of write. At the time, I didn’t want it bad enough.
The five year scenario that the famous author found himself in many years ago, percolates in my mind. What would I do differently if I had the same length of time to accomplish my goal? I won a Royal Palm Literary Award award in 2018. Let’s call that the starting point. This now gives me until 2023 to make something of myself, writing wise. The sands of my hourglass have been trickling down into the lower bulb without my even realizing it. Now I have three years to reach my goal. What did I do today? I prioritized writing over laundry. Setting the socks aside for a moment, I reached for my iPad and I recorded these thoughts. The floors have been dry for a while and now more of the clothes will need ironing which translates to them being worn wrinkled or sent through the dryer again. The point is, the curveballs are endless. That man with the excuses in the audience? That was a version of me. The part of me that isn’t ready to look in the mirror for the reason goals do or do not get accomplished. Writing, like any other ambition we desire, is not easy. Few things are. Most require learning, effort and practice. Set a goal and make it a priority. Once you do, be it five years or three, you’ll get to where you want to be.