Like many people, I have a lot of goals. Some of them are big and long-term, which means they mostly live on the back burner. The other goals (making sure the house is clean, driving my oldest to soccer and baseball practices) are smaller, and hover at the forefront of my thoughts.
One of my biggest goals (and also perhaps the farthest toward the back of my activity list) involves writing. I’ve always been a bit of a closet writer, though slightly less closeted since I’ve begun blogging. I’ve got two sci-fi/fantasy novel manuscripts written (though unpublished and never really shown to anyone), and I’ve had an idea for a third for about a year now. I’m even hoping to apply to the Clarion or Odyssey writers’ workshops in the next year or two (could my family cope without me for a chunk of the summer? Do I risk taking a leave of absence from my work?). Despite all these writerly hopes, I haven’t really worked toward actualizing them recently. So many “What ifs” get in the way of starting this third novel, or even trying my hand at writing a short story.
So what am I going to do about all the questions I keep asking myself?
Downsize the Dream and Chuck the “What ifs”
I think one big change I need to make in my thinking – and something you should think about too if your dreams are BIG but all the “what ifs” keep blocking your path – is to completely lose sight of the gigantic overarching goal. I need to stop asking myself questions like “What if this novel is as bad as the other two?” and “What if I really like this and want to try to do more with it than abandon it in a desktop folder?” and “What if I get caught partway through and have no idea where I want to end up?” Instead, I need to plop myself in front of my computer with a cup of coffee, and start. Start with a few letters, a word, and hopefully build it up from some muddy clay to at least a couple bricks that could, eventually, comprise an entire wall.
Sometimes it’s vital to stop thinking about the forest – or even the entire world in my case – and focus on one little leaf on a sapling.
But then another question arises. When, amidst the helter-skelter of family ballyhoo and brouhaha, of career intrigue and excitement, is the best time for a creative (and frivolous) pursuit?
Anytime and Always
Time is probably the most precious commodity in the world. When we think of our valuables we generally think of diamonds, or fancy electronics, or our families. But an argument can be made that time is probably the most prized of them all. How do you weigh time spent on goals with your family, career aspirations, and personal pursuits? How can I weigh another hike with my family, researching new methods in bed bug treatment, and learning piano or French? I’m constantly struggling to find a “balance,” mostly just kicking my legs as fast as possible and hoping I stay afloat.
But this week, I’ve got a big goal for myself. Anytime I have a few minutes, I’m going to dash to my computer, open the text editor, and focus on my little sapling. I may not get anything written, but I’ll be actively working toward my dreams, in baby steps, and you never know: I may surprise myself with that third manuscript.
Author bio: Maya Rodgers currently leads a satisfying career in pest control (lately she spends most of her time in termite treatment), where she fights bugs and plots how insects will feature in her next novel manuscript. To encourage, embolden, or be entertained, visit her at www.petsandpests.com.