It’s the Process

A while ago, I mentioned this broad, low balance beam I’m walking? Well, life circumstances have narrowed and raised my beam again. I’m busy, over-extended, and stressed out all the time. So, in August after finishing my last manuscript revision, I decided to take a holiday from writing. Two weeks. I’d pick up when the kids went back to school. Well, the kids went back to school, but my ever-present, ever-growing to-do list went nowhere, so that two weeks extended into four. And then five.

Some holidays are good for the soul. You come back with fresh perspective, restored energy, a renewed sense of purpose. And then there’s the other kind. It goes on too long, like that of a leather-skinned backpacker who can’t quit Koh Phangan. It has the opposite effect on the soul, turning it world-weary and cynical.

Self-doubt has plagued me my whole life, but in the last few years, as I’ve finally found the discipline to make writing and revision into daily habits, I’ve realized the power of working toward my dreams. It heals me.

The daily act of sitting down and putting the words on the page, has taught me bravery. I’ve never thought of myself as a brave person, but doing the work you love, divorced from any guarantee of reward, is a brave thing. Knowing I’m doing something that requires courage, weirdly enough, calms a whole lot of my fears. I like myself when I write. I’m nicer to my kids and everyone else when I write. I have more energy when I write. And it saves me all the time and money I’d otherwise need to spend on prescriptions meds and therapy.

I’m not saying success wouldn’t be lovely. It would. And outside positive reinforcement – a kind word from a critique partner, a chuckle when you read your work aloud – feeds me too. But the work itself, that matters most.

Holiday, such as it was, is over. I’m back from Koh Phangan, and here to tell you it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Do the work you love. There’s nothing better.