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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Stop and Smell the Flowers

I wanted to call this “Joy in the Journey,” but it just seemed too cliché. I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the joy in the journey, about writing being its own reward. It seems everywhere I go lately, I’ve been met by this refrain. I’ve even had an old Michael Card song with that name playing in my mind as the soundtrack for my life. Then on Monday, I was overcome with an urge to drive to library and take out Bird by Bird, and guess what, entire chapters dedicated to enjoying the journey.

I think God must be trying to tell me something. I had to really sit myself down and ask the tough question, am I enjoying the process of writing? Do I want to be published? Do I want to have written a book? Or do I write for the sheer joy of writing? And those questions helped me to see where I’ve veered slightly off track. You see, I used to be content writing, just me and God. I was happy with that situation for several years. And then something changed.

I came out of the closet and confessed to being a writer.

Even then, I warned people, it takes at least five years to see your first book on the shelf. But guess what…five years hits this May, and there’s no way I’ll have a book on the shelves by then. And I realized, I don’t want to be a failure. It’s embarrassing to have to tell people time and time again, “No news yet.” I want to be good at what I do. I was a straight A student. People expected great things of me. And I expected great things of myself.

Which is odd, when I tell everyone else that you simply need to accomplish what God is calling you to each day and not worry about the world’s definition of success. I’ve been living a double standard. Which pretty much boils down to pride.

Ouch. Not something I wanted to know about myself. And I can’t say that the revelation itself will make me instantly okay with waiting another five, or ten, or twenty years for publication. But at least I’m aware of it now, and it’s helping to put things in perspective.

As is realizing the importance of enjoying every step of this process. Right now, I can write when I want to. I can flit off to the beach just because the sun is shining. I can savor coffee with friends just because there is coffee to be savored. I can lounge out back on the hammock just to smell the flowers and listen to the birds sing. I’ve reached a certain level of success where I can call myself a novelist, and yet I don’t have the deadlines and pressures of a published author yet. I don’t have to read wretched reviews about my work on amazon. Might as well enjoy the moment.

You know why, because if I don’t learn to enjoy this moment, I won’t enjoy any of the others along the way either. I’ll always be waiting for the next big contract, my first award, my chance on the best-seller list. It will never be enough. I’ve known these authors. I’ve known these people. The ones who are never content and always striving for something more. For the next step. And I don’t want to be one of them.

So today, I stop to smell the flowers. And someday in the future, I’ll turn off amazon and take a deep breath to do it again. Because if you can’t enjoy the moment that you’re in, what’s the point in living?

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