A writer's life can take on many dimensions, both for the unpublished and published among us. Constant pulls and tugs drag in a myriad of directions, making the correct path all the more uncertain.
A slew of contests here. A couple queries there. Writing, reading, edits, rewriting, everywhere.
And the noisier it gets, the more difficult it becomes to maintain a sense of self. To be absolutely clear about what is most important.
But here's what I know:
1. I have to figure out what I can drop.
This is a constant lesson that I somehow keep forgetting. The challenge is what to drop, and when? And who will be let down if I do? Perhaps I should make a list of priorities, but there doesn't even seem to be time to do that, anymore.
2. I have to remember what I want.
My least favorite phrase is "You should have." This not only implies that I've done something wrong, but it also indicates that it's too late to fix.
My second least favorite phrase is "You should." This is usually said when someone else thinks they know what's best for me. But I'm supposed to be the foremost expert on that.
3. I have to remember what's best for me.
This is really easy to forget amid all those "you should"s. This usually boils down to an argument between head and gut. Gut has to win, every time. And don't let your head convince you otherwise.
So I know all this. Doing it, however, is a different game. Dropping things is hardest, I think, because of the guilt that comes with letting people down. But letting myself down--that's even worse.
But the real trick is maintaining that which brings you back to your innate sense of self. An afternoon alone by a roaring fire. Your favorite book. Talking to your closest friend. Find what allows you to rejuvenate and recharge before the outside world tries to peel everything away again.
That is what I will be attempting to do this week. It also goes hand-in-hand with an excellent TED talk from Susan Cain, who talks about the power of introverts, and how important it is to have time and space for reflection and creativity:
What about you? How do you maintain your sense of self amid the noise?