Sunday, September 6, 2009

Missed a big goal ... Now what? Reassess!

I was one of those people who spent the vast majority of my childhood with my nose in a book. At some point, I decided that because I loved to read so much I should try writing. I wrote quite a few little stories, but was never terribly serious about any of it. I was a journaler, so I constantly had a little note book. It was mostly filled with complaints about my life, as writing has always been very cathartic for me. Writing something down was a way that I could wrap my head around a problem and work toward a solution. In college, I took a teaching course about teaching writing and it resurrected this interest in a way that surpassed simple journaling. I developed a rough plan on how I wanted to write a book by the time I turned thirty years old. Now I thought I was being rather realistic at the time. I didn't specify that it had to be a particularly good book, or that the book needed to be published. There wasn't anything in this plan that even addressed showing this book to other people. I admit that I occasionally daydreamed about this book being selected for the Oprah book and giving a rocking interview to Oprah herself (or at least Gail), but I didn't seriously entertain such thoughts.

Well... I turned thirty years old a couple of weeks ago, and I've not so much as finished filling in all the blanks in my children's baby books. I think that the saddest part of this story is that I pretty much forgot about this goal. About a week after my birthday, I was driving home and listening to Minnesota Public Radio, as usual. Carrie Miller was talking about her book club and that she was going to interview an author about his writing process and it just hit me.

I'm thirty. I was going to write a book and I totally didn't do it. I didn't even give it a good try. Oh Shit. I'm such a loser.

Instead of coming up with all kinds of excuses for myself, and there would be plenty legitimate excuses, I began to reassess. Well, I let myself feel like a total loser for a few seconds and then began to reassess.

Do I still want to write something? Well, yes, I do. Writing has always been something that I truly enjoy. Do I still want to write a novel? Maybe one day, but I feel a little too out of practice to just jump into such a major project. Novels have lots of words. Lots of words means many many hours on just a rough draft. I have three children and a full time job, so that just isn't realistic. Plus, other than listening to audio books when I go for walks, I don't even remember the last time that I even read a novel. Good writers read, and I'd feel like a bit of a fraud if I just sat down and tried to write a novel. I do read a lot of children's books. I've read hundred's over the last six years. I could give that a shot. I also read a lot of non-fiction, especially about sewing and craft projects. I could try that, too. Now I know that a children's book or something non-fiction will still be a lot of work. I'm not nixing the novel because I'm afraid of hard work. But, for some reason a children's book or non-fiction book just feels less daunting to me. They are familiar, comfortable, and interesting to me. Both are things that I would want to read, and isn't a writer supposed to write for herself?

Shortly after I decided to update my writing goal, I ran into an old friend. She's recently finished writing a book and is working on finding an agent. Wow! Talking to her was very refreshing and inspiring for me. I think I'm really going to do this. I'm going to write something. So, since I didn't get this done by 30, when do I get this done by? I've always thought that it is very important to have realistic, attainable goals. I'm going to aim for 35. If it doesn't work out, I'll just reassess again.

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