The raising of kids. Self-improvement. An exercise regimen. The writer’s craft. Doesn’t matter what it is.
Commitment — making a fixed decision toward achievement and allowing no other option — is the #1 factor in whether or not we make good things happen. Or really, whether things happen at all.
I was floundering. After my participation in 2014’s National Novel Writing Challenge (that I didn’t “win” but during which I wrote a lot), I vacillated between whether I should continue down the path of novel writing, or try to focus more on freelance work and the contribution of my personal essays to various websites and publications.
I have a desire and aptitude for both, my reasons for choosing one or the other varying. (Though balancing them together is not an option, not while working full-time and being an involved mom.) But because I was open to both, and couldn’t make a decision about which should be my priority, I was spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. Doing nothing, as far as writing goes.
So then I expressed the lack of direction to my writing group. Put my thoughts out on the table, so I could get feedback, and view it from all sides. Really take a good look and make an informed, progressive decision.
It was hitting on the realization together — thank you, V.K.! — that it all comes down to commitment that cleared things up for me. I had to choose something, plain and simple. And then I had to decide that I would be committed to that choice, even on the days I don’t want to be, or when it’s really, really hard.
That’s it. Truly.
It was a powerful epiphany for me, and so I committed. I picked that I will continue down the path of novel writing, which led to an instant rejuvenation for my current WIP. Decisions regarding the manuscript and the integrity of the story asserted themselves. My verve to actually sit down and write returned.
I’ve written 5,000 new words toward my novel in the last two weeks, and the progress feels awesome. It feels solid and justified.
But really, it’s the commitment. That feels awesome, too.
I can’t believe 2015 charged out of the gate days ago. I’ve been holding onto its horns ever since, trying my best to be completely alert and engaged, all while enjoying the ride. It’s how I want my whole year to be.
The way life seems to speed along—and continually gain momentum—isn’t a new phenomenon for many adults. (Though even my two tween daughters mind it once in a while.) Neither is, I suspect, the acceptance that the faster time goes, the more significant it becomes, and how much bigger our job is to make the most of what we have.
Yada yada. I could go on about how important perspective is, how it fluctuates for us, about how life over time is cyclical, but instead I’ve compiled some of what I found to be the most insightful thoughts related to the passage of time.
In 3… 2… 1… (See what I did there?)
“I know this much: that there is objective time, but also subjective time, the kind you wear on the inside of your wrist, next to where your pulse lies. And this personal time, which is the true time, is measured in your relationship to memory.” — Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
“She knew that this day, this feeling, couldn’t last forever. Everything passed; that was partly why it was so beautiful. Things would get difficult again. But that was okay too.” — Lauren Oliver, Panic
“Time does not pass, it continues.” — Marty Rubin
“Life is defined by time, appreciate the beauty of time.” — Lailah Gifty Akita
“Life’s impermanence, I realized, is what makes every single day so precious. It’s what shapes our time here. It’s what makes it so important than not a single moment be wasted.” — Wes Moore
“Everything turns slower when she’s not around, but when she’s with me, an hour feels like a blink of an eye.” — Rea Lidde
“Time has this way of slowing down and speeding up, depending on how it feels.” — Carol Lynch Williams, Waiting
“Time is your only enemy, it disappears very quickly and never gives you a second chance.”– Steve Douglas
This, you might say, is our time.
Are you big on definitions? Because I am, and here we go.
Lonely as described by dictionary.com means, among a couple other things, destitute of companionship and support, and isolated.
Isolation I like, because I am an introvert, and I frequently choose a sort of solitary confinement at home, where I’m really comfortable. And can be solitary. But it’s also in my home that I am destitute of (adult) companionship and support, because it’s just me and my daughters. What an unfortunate contradiction, right?
Loneliness is a fact of life, though. We all feel it now or later, because it’s a natural occurrence of the human condition. And so I allow myself to go through the emotional dip. I don’t let it shame me. I embrace it, even. Mostly.
“Loneliness adds beauty to life. It puts a special burn on sunsets and makes night air smell better.” — Henry Rollins
I think Henry’s right, it lends some significant moments untouched by others. Too, it’s from out of loneliness that comes a strength dependent on no one else. It’s when you surprise yourself, I’ve learned. Get things done, make yourself proud. Figure out what it means to make your own self happy, and just be you.
But there’s the downside, too. Loneliness breeds a longing for companionship, romantic or otherwise, and for interdependence. That’s something we all need, another fact of life, another part of the human condition—we are not meant to be without it. That’s the kind of loneliness that comes on so strong for me at times, especially during the holidays, and especially when my girls are with their dad.
I do make the most of my “me time.” That’s when I do my best “introverting.” I get stuff done that I can’t give focus to when I have my girls. I watch movies they won’t appreciate, and read a lot. I (sometimes) get sociable (just nothing too crazy). And sure, sometimes I mope.
It’s an interesting awareness, not wanting to be lonely, and having to admit that you are, that you’re in want or need of someone else…
“I’ve got everything I need except a man. And I’m not one of those women who thinks a man is the answer to everything, but I’m tired of being alone.” — anonymous
I had a romantic companion through part of 2014, but timing was off, circumstances were not as I’d hoped. So for now I am without. Though this contributes to my loneliness, it’s okay. I’m okay. I have the utmost faith that it won’t always be this way. (And it’s smart to point out, I think, that I’d rather be alone and a bit lonely than in the wrong relationship, one that’s forced, or unhealthy, or just flat not meant to be for whatever reasons. And I’m glad to feel this way, I can’t tell you how much.) But I do get tired of being alone.
I also know that no one—no one with the fullest house, not with the most “perfect” significant other, not even one who chooses, willingly and happily, to be single or be around no one—will ever live without loneliness.
And so I take it for what it is. Loneliness is an emotion. It’s an experience.
It’s an occasional visitor I both welcome and despise, because of the rounded out perspective it allows during this silly little thing called life.
Last month I shared that I was participating in National Novel Writing Month for the first time, and promised I’d tell my experience this go round.
[For any unfamiliar, the annual writer’s “contest” — which runs through the thirty days of November — is a push to write 50,000 words toward a new novel. Though also, many will set their own goals and continue with a project already in progress.]
I was anxious and unsure and thrilled and soaring with hope, because I knew I was a slow, meticulous writer, and I knew that I had been struggling to do any fiction writing of significance for months (alright, years), and I also knew I needed force in the right direction.
Choosing to participate in NaNo was a good decision, and I didn’t let myself down. I wrote just over 35,000 words of my new novel’s rough draft.
I never knew I could write so fast, and I certainly never considered that I could write so messy. But I did!
When I realized I wouldn’t make the 50k goal, I decided I was okay with that. More than satisfied. Because by then, given how my story line had evolved and where my characters sat, I knew I needed to step back and assess what I’d accumulated. So then I gave myself permission to do so. If I’d forced words just to count 15,000 more, it would only have dragged me down, confused my process, and placed me where I couldn’t have been sure I’d write myself out of.
I took a break for Thanksgiving, and have since gotten back to it. Starting with page one, I’ve begun fleshing things out. Building scenes and characters, adding narration. It’s a big task, but the work I did through the effort of NaNo gave me an excellent skeleton to work with. And I’m so pleased about that.
My goal is get through rewrites and additions and revisions (however many rounds it takes to satisfy me), compose a full-length novel, and query the book to agents before the end of 2015. We’ll see how it goes.
Will I do NaNo again? I’m not at all opposed to it. And I may need another push for a new project come this time next year. 🙂
I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month!
This is my first year doing the challenge. I’m excited and hopeful and motivated and kicking a$$, and I have a good team of supporters cheering me on.
Anyway, since right now so many words need to go toward my WIP, I’m leaving only these few here today. I will tell you all about my experience next month.
Wish me luck!
Are you participating? I’m jdwrites if you’d like to connect over at NaNo.