The end of the week always brings a sense of reflection for me, I think about the decisions and choices I have made, where I think I could have done things differently, if not better. I think about the progress I made towards my goals in life, whether that be the food choices I made or the opportunities I took to reach the next stage in my life.
But there is one thing I learnt from thinking back over this week.
A week filled with endless opportunities that came the wrong way or at the wrong time. Interviews and trial days that were for jobs I didn’t want. Conversations I was dreading. Decisions I should have made. Decisions I regret making.
Sometimes you just have to be a little more realistic.
I have been one for big dreams. Always have been.
Going to get straight A’s: Failed my second from last assignment.
Going to get that book published: the books still sitting as a half completed first draft somewhere in my hard-drive, hidden behind every piece I’ve worked on since then.
Going to get that big internship: One of my closest friends got it instead, without even telling me she applied.
Going to get that PhD Studentship: Didn’t even get an interview because they didn’t have the specialists to supervise my ‘unique’ project.
Life can be a dream if you want it to be.
Or it can it can be a nightmare.
But on reflection I know that some of the goals I have set myself, I most likely wont complete. I don’t mean the life goals, twenty-two is way too young to be dismissing those dreams. But I mean for the goals that I have for the here and now; the get a book published by the end of July, submit that short story in nine days when you haven’t even reached the half way point, read all the books. Some of the goals don’t fit in with the schedule my life is taking me.
I’m not going to stop writing. You’d have to kill me for that to happen.
But it is time to re-evaluate.
Re-evaluate what I want to accomplish over the next few months.
Over the next year.
Over the next five years.
Over the next few days.
I am at one of those points in your life where you think every decision you make will send your life crashing through the ground. That everyone will judge you for not taking the first job you are offered, even though they don’t know it was for pounding the pavement doing door to door sales rather than the human resources position they advertised. That putting deadlines on yourself that are more cruel than constructive. That promising yourself next time you will be better, even though you know you gave it all the last time.
So how can you get better for next time?
This is turning into more of a rant about life, rather than just about writing. But writing is something that has always grounded me. Something I turn to, to escape from the stresses of the rest of my life. But when I place a deadline on my escape, it begins to constrict. A tourniquet.
When I sit awake at night thinking that my sleep doesn’t matter because I need to get this done. Or that done. Everything must be done today. Because if I don’t get it done today then I fail.
If I don’t submit that short story; I fail at being a writer.
If I don’t get that review up; I fail at being a blogger.
If I don’t hit my monthly reading goal; I fail at being reader.
If I don’t get that studentship; I fail at being a student.
If I don’t get the high paid job promised to the students as they embark on their biggest life choices so far; then I fail at being a graduate.
But then I stop.
I formulate the plans in my head.
See the timescale I have set myself.
I see all of the things you are meant to do in life. I see them crammed so close together than you cant discern one from another. That publishing that book has merged with finding your own home. That reaching that saving goal has blurred with hitting so many followers. That life has blurred into a checklist.
But then I grab the end and I stretch. I turn days into weeks. Weeks into months. Months into years. I give myself the time I need to breath. I fill my lungs with the air I’ve needed for so long that they burn. My mind stops racing for the next thing I must get done and looks at the things I haven’t done because they don’t meet the next goal.
All the other opportunities I haven’t taken. Because they didn’t meet my first life plan.
As I am writing this, I am flicking through a notepad. It only a small scruffy thing that always found its way into my bag. Filled with scrawls. Sketches. Doodles. Ripped pages and cracked spine. Almost every story idea I have had has found it’s way into these pages. And yet I hardly ever look.
Because they didn’t fit into a submission I wanted to get done.
But they could fit into one in a year. In two years. They may never. But I may create the demand for one. Endless possibilities laying beneath my fingertips.
So now it is time to write for me.
Not to a deadline that I have set myself for no other reason than to set one. So I miss the opportunity to be published in an anthology because I couldn’t find the story I wanted to write for it? So I take an extra year or two before any novel is near publication?
I write because I love to write. To create. To be another character for a book, a chapter, a page, a line. For now, my life doesn’t depend on me pumping out two best-sellers a year. It doesn’t depend on me earning a fandom. It doesn’t even depend on the money writing ‘can’ make.
But it does depend on my being able to function. On me being able to see what I actually want to do next. On being able to see a logical timeline rather than expecting everything to be perfect here, now.
Thinking back over this week I realise. I lost my grounding. Quite a while ago by the look of it. By the feel of it. But it’s time to get it back.
And I’m going to start with my little book.