Yesterday morning, I woke up to a rainy foggy July 4th day. After having family and friends over the day before, I was in no hurry to get out of bed. A decadent lazy morning where I didn’t have to be anywhere except to pick up my dog from the kennel. These are mornings I love to read, or scan social media or nap or maybe even daydream.
My thoughts turned to my writing. I haven’t been writing blog posts in the frequency that I once did, mostly because my life is quiet at this time, I’m not dealing with any major issues, I’ve explored all the other things I felt were relevant to share. There is only so much one can write about their life and its challenges. Then I thought I should work on my novel which I haven’t touched in a month.
Then I started thinking do I really want to write a novel? It took me ten years to finish my degree but I never quite quit on it. Life’s challenges had made it more difficult but once I finally got the space and time to finish, I did it. The one thing I understand about myself is that when I truly want something, I will keep persevering and pursuing until I finally achieve what it is that I want no matter how hard it is. Which made me think, then if I am not really fired up and writing with all the time I have free now that my college classes have ended two months ago, is it truly something I want to do?
When you have a bit of talent to write, what do people tell you? “You should write a book and get published.” Or something to that extent. That’s what writers do. Isn’t that the end all be all goal of a writer? To write that bestselling novel or non-fiction book? Make a lot of money, get famous, go on book tours, talk shows, and the like. Sounds glamorous doesn’t it? I used to think that I wanted that life. I follow some of my favorite authors on social media and they post what they do during their day, their book tours, their meetings with editors and so on. They fly here and there, go on cruises with their fans, some spend time in libraries and bookstores doing readings and book signings. I read their posts and think well that’s nice but have no desire for that kind of life. A good portion of being a successful writer is marketing your book. That part bores me to death.
What would happen if I let go of the dream of becoming a best-selling author? The first question I had yesterday was is becoming a best-selling or successful book author really my dream? I know myself, if it was, I would have pursued it and made it happen or in the process of making it happen. I would have networked with agents, joined writing groups, writing organizations and attended writing classes or workshops at a higher level.
I used to think that I was afraid of rejection but when I read books, I find myself thinking my writing is as good or better than this writer (my opinion of course!). I’m not some great writer of prose with elegant sentences and flow but reading what is climbing up the New York Times best seller list, a lot of those authors don’t have that rare talent either. They write what sells, what people enjoy reading. There are books on formulas on how to write to get published, etc. That seems to take away some of the joy of writing to me.
Obviously I’m not wanting to write to make money. Sure I wouldn’t turn money down but I write because I love writing. If I have to write in a very specific way to sell it, then I might as well clock in at 8 a.m. and clock out at 5 p.m. just like any old job. That’s all it would be. The creativity and sheer joy of dreaming up an entire complex story complete with characters I bring to life would no longer exist and therefore the reason I write would be gone. I write for my own enjoyment. I always have.
I suppose that means that maybe the dream of being a best-selling author isn’t my dream at all. It’s just what a writer is supposed to strive for, what makes sense to everyone else. Getting published on a large-scale is the benchmark of a good writer except I’ve read plenty of books and thought, ‘How in the hell did they get published? This is awful’. Publishing is simply a business. Just like any place you work, it could be who you know or what you are willing to do and bend for to get what you want. Which is fine. I am not criticizing it but I am starting to realize, maybe I need to rethink my dream.
When I thought about letting go of the whole publishing a fictional novel idea, I felt a weight come off of my shoulders. This doesn’t mean I may never write a book, just maybe what I am writing isn’t the right thing for me. I get a lot of enjoyment out of writing my blog especially when I write about something particularly difficult for me and someone comments to be how it helped them or made them feel less alone or it gave them information on how to seek help. That is way more satisfying than the few times I have become published on a smaller level. I need to think about this, listen to this aspect. When you first get published, even on a small-scale, it’s exciting and by the next day, the excitement for me was gone. I don’t go around bragging that I published in this or that. Not that I really have anything to brag about.
I don’t feel I have to prove anything to myself or anyone else any more regarding my writing. When I was younger, I used to visualize my bestselling book in the window of a book store, my name as the author in bold print and all the people who ever doubted me, made fun of me or were mean to me would then look at me at wonder and awe. At forty-six, I really could care less about those people now. Maybe when you are younger, you feel as if you have to prove to yourself and everyone else you are good enough, better even. Mid-life, you generally don’t care what people think about you so much. You know by now that everyone is about the same. We all have the same general insecurities about ourselves even those people in high school that seemed to have it all together.
So now I need to think outside of the box. What is it I really want to do? Write about? Write for? It may come to me now and it may come to me later. I’m just going to follow my heart and my gut instinct about it all. I’ve spent way too many years ignoring it and spinning my wheels, wasting time. That doesn’t apply to just writing but most things in my life that haven’t worked out so well.
It is a relief to just let go of something that must not really matter to me, becoming a best-selling author or at least a well-known author whose book shows up somewhere on one of those lists and bookstore shelves. I didn’t have designs on being the next Nora Roberts or James Patterson, anyway. Which again, is proof that maybe my dream wasn’t quite right for me. That’s the cool thing about mid-life, you start stepping back and figuring out what you’ve been doing not for yourself but because you thought you should do it for whatever reason. You start finding the freedom to just be yourself. Do what you want. Do what you love. Yes, there are still those pesky bills and responsibilities but it is truly like getting a second chance or second act. You just may have to go about your dreams in a less traditional route. Or find you have new dreams. It’s actually quite exciting.
Getting older doesn’t automatically mean you have to give up and not enjoy your life. Wear polyester pants with elastic waistbands in pastel colors with a matching jacket (unless you love this look) and letting your hair go grey as you rock out your last years on the front porch or recliner watching The Price is Right. Because your kids have grown doesn’t mean your life is over either. It’s a bit of a shock at first when your life quiets suddenly but you will find your happiness and a new type of relationship with your children. I had a bit of an adjustment period that was not enjoyable at all. Now, I love my girls being older. We hang out and do things together. It’s a lot less pressure for me because I don’t have to monitor every move they make. They’re adults now. It’s freeing for me.
I don’t know what my next step will be when it comes to my writing but whatever it is, I am going to make sure it is something I truly want and love. No more “should do”. I can’t wait to see what else is in store for me. Maybe something that encompasses my love of traveling locally, hiking and biking. That is definitely something I love, I could easily incorporate my writing into maybe narrating and providing information on the places I discover and love. I love adventures.
Till next time and thank you for reading my blog! Hugs!