Happy New Year! It’s January so I can still say that, right?
Last year I wrote about New Year’s Eve and Day being my favorite holidays and some of the things that I do to prepare for a brand new year. (Read about that here.)
This year, I am solely focusing on my writing and in what direction I want it to go. Or, more apt, in what direction will I take it?
I have a lot of ideas, aka too many ideas. I know I want to keep writing and publishing articles, stories, and essays. I also know I need to make more money. This is constantly on my mind. I think if I felt secure in my future health, I wouldn’t be so afraid of not having enough money. But with an insurance deductible of almost 9,000.00–that’s NINE THOUSAND– before my insurance pays one penny for ANYTHING, I really do need to think about the future what-ifs. As much as I don’t want to. But, wait a minute!! I have digressed and risk growing angrier at the lack of affordable healthcare in this country. Back to writing…
After a quick inventory of writing technique, craft, how-to, etc books, I realized I have over 170 (yes, you read that correctly) books on how to write. They have accumulated over the years. I’ve read many, skimmed all, and plan to read the rest someday…:) But, I remind myself often, reading about writing is not writing.
Here are just two shelves of my writing books:
(Note to self: You might want to dust those shelves soon… yikes! My mom made the donkey and a beloved friend’s mom made the kitty. The soldier is my dad.)
I enjoy what I do, but I think it’s time to take a closer look at what else I could be doing. One of my mentors keeps telling me it’s time to step up my game and start pitching and writing for national publications that are able to pay writers more. Actually, I’m hearing that from a couple of trusted friends and a former Creative Writing professor. I know it’s true. And yet, I know it’s scary. And here’s why: I like where I am. I’m comfortable writing for the publications that I write for. And I appreciate having the opportunity to write for them. And I do get paid to write. (Freelance writers, can you relate?)
I told Chuck that I feel like I am swinging on the trapeze, going back and forth from the platform to the middle, the mid-air part, the part halfway to the opposite platform. I swing back and forth, but I’m afraid to let go and grab the next bar that will take me across to the other side. So, I’m stuck in mid air. I’ve been here before. Many times. I was here in 2014 after resigning from a job position that I thought I would be in forever. I wanted to be there forever, but things change and I realized I could no longer be safe in that working environment. But what to do? The next right step then was signing up for Yoga Teacher Training. That year of training changed my life.
At YTT graduation in 2015, my instructor shared an inspirational essay (*included below) with our class. I pulled it out the other day because I needed to remember how scared I was then, and how brave it made me. And how I ended up following my dream of writing, and how beautifully everything unfolded before me, in time, and with a lot of work and commitment to learning the ins and outs of freelancing writing. I’m still learning every single day. Sometimes the hard way.
I think the single best piece of writing advice that I know comes from the author of one of my favorite books. E. L. Konigsburg (‘From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler’) has this to say about writing:
“The difference between being a writer and being a person of talent is the discipline it takes to apply the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair and finish. Don’t talk about doing it. Do it. Finish.”
So, that’s it. I’m going to keep writing, keep stretching a little higher, keep trusting in the path as it is laid out before me. And soon, I know, I can feel it, I will let go of the first bar and grasp onto the second. Even if my legs tremble. Even if my palms sweat. Even if I keep one eye closed. Even if I have a couple (or a half dozen) false starts. I’m just going to do it. As a wise therapist told me years ago, “Look at your track record. Anything you’ve wanted to do and have been willing to work hard for, you’ve accomplished.” I’ll claim that.
Thank you all for being on this journey with me. I am always inspired by your words, creative pursuits, and ways of moving in the world.
Wish me luck. Hold me accountable. I’m happy to do the same for each of your endeavors.
*The Flying Trapeze
Sometimes, I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I’m either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments, I’m hurdling across space between the trapeze bars.
Mostly, I spend my time hanging on for dear life to the trapeze bar of the moment. It carries me along a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I’m in control. I know most of the right questions, and even some of the right answers. But once in a while, as I’m merrily, or not so merrily, swinging along, I look ahead of me into the distance, and what do I see?
I see another trapeze bar looking at me. It’s empty. And I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart of hearts I know that for me to grow, I must release my grip on the present well-known bar, to move to the new one.
Each time it happens, I hope – no, I pray – that I won’t have to grab the new one. But in my knowing place, I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar, and for some moments in time I must hurtle across space before I can grab the new bar. Each time I do this I am filled with terror. It doesn’t even matter that in all my previous hurtles I have always made it.
Each time I am afraid I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks in the bottomless basin between the bars.
But I do it anyway. I must.
Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call faith. No guarantees, no net, no insurance, but we do it anyway because hanging on to that old bar is no longer an option. And so, for what seems to be an eternity but actually lasts a microsecond, I soar across the dark void called “the past is over, the future is not yet here.” It’s called a transition. I have come to believe that it is the only place that real change occurs.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing, and the bars are the illusions we dream up to not notice the void. Yes, with all the fear that can accompany transitions, they are still the most vibrant, growth-filled, passionate moments in our lives.
And so transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away, but rather with giving ourselves permission to “hang out” in the transition zone—between the trapeze bars—allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens.
It can be terrifying. It can also be enlightening.
Hurdling through the void, we just may learn to fly.
The copyright on my print copy of The Flying Trapeze says 2010 Integrative Nutrition
(5/10 Joshua Rosenthel) I apologize if this is incorrect and will correct, if needed.