On second thought, let’s not; that was never the intention


I’ll break the bad news to you right away, this is not about women/men relationships.  No, this is about something fun and easy.  (That didn’t come out right, please have it stricken from the record)  I don’t know you and you don’t really know me all that much but I’m going to take a guess there’s something you do for fun.  There’s some hobby or pastime or subject or whatever that brings you joy.  Me too.  So what do you say we pay extra special attention to that and not screw it up like we’ve done with a myriad of others things we do?  Let’s not make work out of it, because who likes work anyway?

According to the general, thrown-around statistics (or ‘satistics’ if you’re from Indiana, thank you, David Letterman) about 80% of us don’t like our work.  We’re disengaged or disenchanted, over worked and under paid and just generally under-appreciated in doing that thing we get a paycheck for on a regular basis.  Thank goodness they pay us or we’d all probably starve, I mean who’d do what we do for free?  Because of our disdain or distaste for all things work it absolutely slays me that we would be so dumb as to make the one or two or several things that give us release from our servitude, back into the thing we can’t stand.  That’s right we make our fun into work.

Don’t believe me?  Ask yourself these or similar questions about your thing.  Do you obsess about it, do research on it, measure your results against someone else’s thing all in the name of doing it really, really well?  Do you worry that your attempts at it aren’t good enough, that others will look at your hobby and snicker that your garden isn’t green or your brisket isn’t tasty or your needlepoint is crooked?  Do you work feverishly, sometimes for hours on end to get it right?  When you finish with it, are you exhausted and just want to go sit on the couch in your underwear and eat Pop-Tarts?  If some or all of these are true (maybe not so much on that last one), then you, my friend have made your joy, your passion, your calling and perhaps even your purpose into toil.  But fear not, I’m not here to scold you about this.  I’m here to tell my story so hopefully you might learn from my experience and avoid or stop your progress down this path.

For years I dreamed about being a writer.  I fantasized how it would be to write for an audience and be published.  I yearned for a creative outlet for all my goofy ideas and slanted opinions on everything under the sun.  However, something always held me back.  Until one day, I decided to start a blog.  I had the benefit of having a daughter that could build the site for me and help me with all the technical stuff.  She put together a great blog for me and led me by the hand so I could operate it.  I was off and running.  For over a year I wrote prolifically, often posting six days out of seven.  I attracted a nice-sized following who commented on my writing favorably once in a while.  Then one day, for no particular reason, (Thank You, Forest Gump) I decided it was time to publish a book.  I thought now was the time when I should organize some of my writing and put it into printed form.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, this pernicious inkling, but I had no idea how this would change the game.

I began researching how this was done.  I weighed the pros and cons of self-publishing and traditional publishing.  I looked into cover design elements, book launches, platform building, supporting a book, marketing a book and everything-else-under-the-sun about a book.  Of course I knew this would take time (it did) and I’d have to curtail my writing volume.  So, I cut down from six posts a week to four and then three (you know, to work on the book).  But a funny thing happened on the way to my best seller; doing the actual writing got harder.

I found myself going a day or two or three(!) without putting a word down on paper.  I found myself forcing myself (which sounds really weird but that’s the way it was) to write.  I found it difficult to create even with the scads of ideas I’d squirreled away over the months before.  Writing was no longer the romping jaunt through words and ideas on the page.  Writing was something I had to do.  To keep up my “content.”  To stay in touch and grow my “tribe.”  To cultivate the people who would review my inevitable book on Amazon thereby foisting me into the stratosphere and onto best-seller lists everywhere.  Yuck.

I wish I could say that I recognized what I’d done to myself (there’s that pronoun again) within a short amount of time but I’d be lying.  It took me not days or weeks but months to realize how I’d mucked up my dream.  I had to look long and hard at why I viewed writing in this new, unattractive way before I understood I had made getting published or “the next step” my aim.  It wasn’t writing I was all about any longer.  It was about making writing my job.  It was about getting recognition on a larger scale.  And that, my friend, pissed me off but good.  It was then that I stomped my foot, threw my television out of the window and told myself (really I’m not schizophrenic, although I do talk to myself a lot (crap, there it is again, I may really have a problem)) “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”  And once again, slowly, I was free.

I got back to the core.  I recognized I do this writing thing because I love doing it.  I love the sound of the words in my head and the look of them on the page.  I love making stupid jokes and seeing where the characters I create take their stories.  I find satisfaction in trying to tell a story just as I see it and hear it in my head as the characters talk to each other.  I love everything about this crazy process and finally, I hope, I’ve realized that if you have a dream, you’ve got to protect it (Thank you Will Smith-The Pursuit of Happyness).  Now, I’ll still publish someday but I don’t have a timeline for it.  I’m not looking at myself and my writing on some self-imposed linear graph.  Publishing, books, they’ll all happen in time.  When that time will come, I can’t say.  What I can say is I know my joy and my dream and I will do everything in my power to never, ever, make it my job.

I’m really trying to resist the voices in my head (there’s a clue about my mental health, huh?) that tell me I should be plowing ahead and publishing and speaking and creating some sort of online course and blah, blah, blah.  I’m fighting to keep my writing what I believe it should be, my joy.  I hope my story encourages and enlightens you to do the same.

Every week I write about stuff in my life with the hope that it might be instructive to yours.  I don’t know if I get there but if you would like to read more, click here to go to my blog’s home page.  Once you’re there you can subscribe, or subscribe right here by clicking this.  Subscribing is no big deal and it’s free.  Subscribing just means you’ll get an email on Sundays with links to the week’s posts.  I never sell or share emails so don’t worry about getting a bunch of spam.

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