23 December 2013

Happy Holidays

Tomorrow I'm driving about four hours to my family's Christmas celebration. Whenever I travel long-ish distances by car, bus, or airplane, I think about the fact that I could die. I'm not sure why it never occurs to me to think about dying when I zip to the grocery store or across town for brunch, but it doesn't. Only long-ish distances.

Anyway, so I'm thinking about the possibility of dying, either on the way there or the way back (knock on wood that doesn't happen), and I started thinking, If this were my last blog post, what would I want to say to everyone out there?

And then I thought of a conversation I had today with my friend/developmental editor/coachee Diane Gilman wherein we were commiserating about...well, in the end it's really about fear of failure, but here's how it's played out for us: We are intensely aware of our limited resources (time, energy, money). We don't want to waste any of it working on a writing project that's not going to work out. But the thing about creative expression is that you never know ahead of time - as you're sitting down to write, when your brain starts to itch, when that line keeps repeating itself in your head - whether it's going to turn into anything good, anything worthwhile.

Thus we become paralyzed. We don't want to head down the wrong track, don't want to waste that precious hour and all that creative energy working on a piece that we end up abandoning, not when we're pretty sure we're capable of writing something really good...so we never start. And we end up wasting all of it. All that time, all that energy gone or diverted to things maybe seeming more urgent but which are certainly less important.

It's only recently I've really started to work on...not being comfortable with the idea that these things I'm writing down, these hours I'm devoting to scribbling and transcribing and revising might all be for nothing...not being comfortable but resigned. Yes, that's the word. I've tried to resign myself to the idea - no, the fact - that not everything I write is going to be awesome. To the idea that part of the process is opening up space to just play, to experiment, to take risks. And sometimes - maybe even often - I'll end up with some real crap.

God, it's hard. Especially since I value efficiency. I'm the type of person who writes down her grocery list in order of the aisles I know I'll encounter in the store so that I don't run the risk of noticing, once I'm already in the produce section, that I forgot to pick up the peanuts on the way to the cheddar cheese and have to go halfway back through the store to get them.

But if I don't give myself permission to play, if I don't open up that space and take the risk, then I've got no writing at all.

So if this is my last blog post, which I really hope it isn't, but if it is, then this is what I want to say to you: Believe in yourself. Give yourself a chance. Give yourself permission to try things that you aren't sure will work. Take a risk. Do what you dream. Don't spend your whole life playing it safe.

Maybe that sounds like a lot of clich├ęd platitudes to you. In which case I dare you to take them seriously for a moment.

Surviving and thriving aren't the same thing, and if you spend your whole life ignoring the whisperings of your heart then you are already a zombie. I dare you to live. To be fully alive. To feel your feelings and dream your dreams and take chances on yourself.

That is all. See you on the flip side.


  1. We fail our way to mastery, so those times where the writing doesn't work are the times of growth. No effort is truly wasted as long as we come away from the experience with new insights.

    Have a safe trip and enjoy your holiday.

    1. Well said, Kathrese! Thanks for taking the time to read & comment.