This is a post for the rest of us. Like it or not, money is often equated with success, and success is often equated with happiness. But it just ain’t so.
So my Middle Kid had an early jazz band practice, and I was listening to Pentatonix sing Hallelujah on the way home. Go buy Hallelujah on iTunes right now. Right now. No, seriously. Or go listen to it on Youtube. I’ll put the link at the bottom. Anyone with an ounce of passion in them needs to hear them sing this tune. All that Catholic schooling aside, I haven’t been a practicing Christian in 20 years, so why does this song resonate with me so hard, even after I’ve listened to it, like, 1000 times since I bought it? (Rest in peace, Leonard Cohen. Your memory is certainly blessing me this year.)
Hallelujah resonates because of the passion, I think. It creates a connection. Between writer/singers and listeners. Between writer and readers. We know it when we hear it/see it. And it grabs us. Which led me to thinking about how hard it is to get that passion onto the page. Sometimes I wish I could physically rub what is in my heart onto the page because it is so much better than what is coming out of my fingers once it passes through my brain. My filter. My internal editor. I write mySELF, my VOICE, out of my words so often it’s become a habit. Gotta make ’em pretty. Gotta make ’em flow. Gotta connect my thoughts. And I’ve had great editors, but sometimes, they took a piece of me out of my work, too, and I let it happen because I didn’t trust mySELF enough to fight for me.
It probably had something to do with deadlines and my desire to pump out three books a year and be “successful.” I don’t have any deadlines now, but I fight the urge to give them to myself in order to be productive. My definition of productive is finishing the book. That’s also my definition of success. But I am fighting so damn hard to change both of those into making the book that lands on the page as rich and passionate as the book in my heart. And that is requiring SO MUCH MORE TIME and THOUGHT and EXPLORATION than I ever imagined. It’s hard to be okay with that when I spent years training myself to think that success=happiness=finishing the book=making money. (Which is why this isn’t a post for writers making big money. Money brings its own inspiration. It just does.)
Writers, I don’t know about you, but when #1k1hr/3 or more books a year/butt in chair/write full-time entered my world, I started feeling like I wasn’t getting anything done. And that feeling made me want to do even less.
Yes, I still want to finish the book, damn right I do (and I bet you do, too). And I want to write another book in the Hot Nights series. And I want to write a womens fic book just because. And feeling like shit isn’t going to get me there. Butt in chair ALL THE TIME isn’t going to get me there because my butt needs other stuff, too. Like yoga. And fruitcake, party mix, au gratin brussels sprouts, and caramels made by me. I need to read. And watch Sherlock. And hang out with my family.
Here are a few of MY new definitions of success, and I invite you add your own in the comments. Comments will automatically enter you in my Come Again Series Giveaway (GC to The Ripped Bodice or, um, my favorite sex toy, new in box OF COURSE).
- Write for one single hour OR cross a thing off the list of things that need to get done in the WIP. Progress is progress.
- Go to work and do a good job. Listen, some days, that’s all we can do. The day job pays the bills.
- Feel good. Make the mental adjustment required to reject negative judgement, within or without, and be fine with the work that is getting done and know that the rest of the work WILL get done. Eventually. It is perfectly okay to go around feeling good about yourself instead of apologizing, downplaying, or self-deprecating.
Be vulnerable. Be authentic. Own yourSELF. Do YOU. And practice believing you are worthy. Not just good enough but valuable. Give yourself permission to feel happy and successful simply because you are breathing and go about your day feeling good.
Writers, connect with the passion you have for yourself, so you can share it. Maybe even on the page. Reject the outside voices telling you your words should be different and write the words in your heart. That’s how you find the good stuff.