I'm a planner and a doer. I make lists, and I check things off. Oh, that feels so good - to start the day with a list and to end the day with a check mark by everything on that list. Change the sheets. Check. Bake muffins. Check. Make out a menu and grocery list. Check. Clean storage area. Check. Find a publisher...Write the next ten pages of My Boyfriend The Jerk...
Some things aren't quite so easy to check off the list.
I haven't written much since Thanksgiving. I'd like to blame it all on the holidays and on the busyness of my job during the month of January, but it wouldn't be the truth, at least not the whole truth. The whole truth is that I've been avoiding it.
Six months ago, I submitted my first novel to an editor at Viking Children's Books. I did not expect her to accept it. I'd met with her at a writers' retreat, and it was obvious that she didn't like my story. It was a far cry from the type of book she typically chooses, but everyone at the retreat was invited to submit their finished work, so I did. And I recently got the answer I expected. At the same time, a writer-friend of mine hybrid-published a nonfiction book (semi-self-published/semi-traditional). I followed her progress: the book signings and school visits, the continual self-promotion. I was exhausted just hearing it all. And somewhere in there, I read a blog that sealed the publication-disillisionment deal for me. The author wrote that after she had reached the end-all goal of every writer (that of being published), she did the book signings, school visits, and interviews, and all she could think about was how much she wished she was home, writing.
It all made me ask myself, do I even want to be published?
I honestly don't know anymore.
What I do know is that I need to toss my writers' checklist in the bonfire. I need to switch gears, take my eyes off the goal and begin to savor the journey: enjoy the people I meet and the friendships I make; treasure the creative process; have a blast getting to know my characters, spend time with them, learn all that I can about them before I put them in my story. It will take discipline on my part - to focus on the journey instead of the goal. It's not who I am. I do goals. I plan. I map a route and stick to it. This is a little scarey. I don't know where I'm going to end up, but you can be sure of one thing: I'm going to have fun getting there!
What about you? What goals do you need to chuck in the fire in order to enjoy the journey?