hesitant throat clearing fills the space
Hello, hello? Hello, dear Reader.
I am so glad you are here.
No, I have not totally disappeared into the dark spaces of internet silence but if the last six months are anything to go by, 2017 may rival 2016 in terms of chaos filling my life. I wanted out of 2016 badly. I really hoped 2017 will be a little better. It is not shaping up to be that way.
Why the dark silence, you ask? Last summer while I was working on the current book (still not done), our lives changed: my 17 year old nephew moved in with us to finish high school. Adding a new person and his dog creates chaos. There is the whole ‘where will his bed go, how will we organize all our stuff, how will we deal with the yard so the dog does not escape’ challenge. And then, when he couldn’t cope with the culture shock of a new, fairly white, town, there was the chaos of not coping. He moved out in the middle of Nanowrimo. I rattled around in the house without him and the dog and my writing came to a dribbling stand still.
Christmas was a blur. We finished school the day before Christmas eve. The house was not decorated and we had only two things ready to go. I bought all the presents on the way home that night. Christmas Eve, the hand bell choir I direct played at our Church’s early service; my husband’s hand bell choir played at the late service, with only a 45 minute break between the two because of rehearsals. Then there was the usual holiday frenzy–our celebration, my husband’s family celebration and my extended family celebration which got changed three times. It was a bit of a blur, to be honest.
There were some really good things about the holidays, though. Both girls were home for several days at a time. My girls are both so grown up. I’m so proud of them! One has just graduated from Fashion design and is starting her search for a career position and the other is half way through her engineering degree. But having them here really made it clear that life is changing and we are all at a new stage in our lives. They are growing up, becoming adults and moving on. Now I have to figure out what I want to do in this empty nest of my life.
I have grown so much since I got serious about my writing and started this blog. I have also been struggling with letting my writing go into the world. I actually have seven different finished pieces in the ready to let go of pile (two long novels, and five shorter pieces) along with two more in progress. Over the break I had a total melt down about releasing books and writing and moving forward. My husband is a very tolerant man, lol. He listens to me when I struggle and he just keeps encouraging me. He read my latest manuscript and commented how much I have improved since that first manuscript I finished. When I had a total ranting melt down he listened to my rants and fed me wine and grapes and was generally tolerant of my silly stresses.
I am struggling, dear reader, with ‘serious performance anxiety’. The fears are many: What if I write, pour my heart out and no one reads it? What if I do my best and it is panned? What if I let it go and it causes total chaos in the universe? Writing with deep honesty is kind of like tap dancing naked on a roof top while the world and no one is watching. There is a certain fear of exposure and failure. We all struggle with fear. But mine has gotten in the way of me letting you read what I am writing. Paralyzing perfectionism at its worst.
My weekly writing group has also seriously dwindled. For two months, I’ve been a steady group of one. Everyone has reasons–a dying husband, serious health issues, the process of giving up on an old job and finding a new one, the production meetings that occur on the same night for the job that pays the bills–good reasons. But it is hard to be a writing group of one. It makes me feel like I have done something to drive everyone away. There is an ebb and flow of life, and this is the ebb of the tide.
So this year, instead of resolutions and goals which are just one more thing that I do not manage to live up to in my crazy life, I decided focus on better. This is the year of Apprenticeship. My only goal is to do something, one small step of improvement, every day. Becoming a willing learner, a researcher on what works for others, and a listener. Nothing big, just little steps moving forward.
The good thing about this is that even when the chaos continues (our church music director was released abruptly from his contract and as a result my directing and singing life has been upended; my sister’s family challenges mean that our family is now in the middle of a real life soap opera involving lawyers, CAS, police and unearthing the floors in my parent’s house and a close friend’s child may have a life threatening disorder), my writing is still moving forward. It isn’t about the book launch or the perfect blog or 10,000 readers on my email list. It is about choosing to do one small thing every day.