“If only life were like a Jules Verne novel, thinks Marie-Laure, and you could page ahead when you most needed, and learn what would happen.” ~ from All the Things We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
If only we could page ahead.
I’ve been talking a lot to writers, to myself, to the Universe, about expectations and dreams and my (seemingly) bouts of failure and how I want so badly to know what’s ahead so that I might plan for and prepare. For either the best case scenario or the worst (but let’s face it, I generally consider how to prepare for the worst).
What I really want to know is should I keep working on this writing project or that one. Which one will get me where I want to be? Does a finished novel make me an official author? Does a collection of short stories mark me as an emerging writer? Does one more published essay under my belt qualify me for…what?
I waste a lot of time trying to figure out if I’m wasting my time.
The truth is, all I have is today and this page–or this screen–in front of me.
I could drop everything and finish my book or push out a few more essays or cull those short stories into the perfect multi-media collection (complete with a musical score…I have ideas, people!).
But to drop everything would mean halting my streak of Author Q&A’s, and I learn a ton from reading books inside and outside my comfort zone and talking with authors who’s style may be entirely different from my own.
I would have to cancel my online courses, starting with the one I’ve got going on right now, Principles & Prompts, where we’re talking about creativity and story, about anxiety and fear, and how to know if/when our writing is worth it. I value those discussions with other writers as 1) they remind me I’m not alone and 2) they inspire me with new insights and perspectives.
I would have to let go entirely of the group at Harwood Place. And if anything inspires me to keep on keeping on, it’s that group of writers, most of whom are 90 years old and above. They don’t worry about which project is THE project they should be working on. They just do. And they have fun. And if their stories get heard by another person, all the more joy.
So, maybe that’s it: the joy is what matters.
I may never know if the time spent on this novel-in-the making has been worth it. I may not realize for a long time that this blog is worth every hour spent crafting one post and the next. But I have fun dipping my pen into certain projects and formatting the perfect photo for the random post. It’s the little things.
Don’t think I’m forgetting about the novel or the collection of stories. But just for today, I won’t beg for a peek at the future. Instead, I’ll hold fast to the knowledge that if what I’m doing guides me through the dark and carries me into some literary light, then I am in the right place at the right time to witness more of the story, yours and mine.