When I used to teach in Durham, NC, I taught with an amazing teacher by the name of Vickie Caldwell. She was a gifted instructor, but she was really incredible with parents. I learned so much from her about interacting with parents in a parent conference environment. She connected with every parent as a fellow parent FIRST and then as their child's teacher. She used to say to the parents, "The hardest thing about being a parent is you've got to keep on keeping on." She was talking about consistency and staying the course and keeping firm on your perameters with your kids. She was talking about trusting the process and understanding that if you consistently do the right thing, lead your child the right way, and encourage and love them, IT WILL TAKE. At the time, I saw how these parents responded to this advice, so I knew it resonated. But until I had my own children, I didn't fully appreciate the wisdom of this advice. Anyone can get kids in bed on time ONE night or even ONE night a week, but the night after night after night after night is the hard part. Anyone can bite their tongue during the science project when the experiment is going all wrong and you no exactly why---for ONE NIGHT, but at some point most of us become exasperated and say something like, "Move over. Watch me."
Our spiritual lives are like that. We pray for certain results in our lives. We wait patiently, and then we periodically get annoyed at the perceived lack of progress and take the helm ourselves. (which never ends well, does it?)
My writing life is also like that. I started a new routine in January, and it was been going great. I have never been so productive, fired up, consistent, all these things. I can actually see my work getting better every day. I have felt like I was finally 'in the groove', you know? Like I had found the sweet spot. I've been hitting my goals---BAM BAM BAM. Until last Friday. All of a sudden I was just tired. Ready for results beyond what I see at my desk every day. Ready for some kind of external validation. So this week-end, I did something that usually gets me back in gear. I went to a bookstore. Except this time it was a disaster because this chain bookstore had the most horrible children's department ever. Not a single picture book was face out unless it included a toy or craft item as a package set OR it was a syndicated character (i.e. character from TV or movie). Whaaat? If we're not going to expose the kids to good literature, how will they ever have a chance? This crap will only prepare them to be lifelong readers of tabloid magazines. So it got me down a bit.
Yesterday, I knew I was going to have a hard time getting started, so I pulled out Steven Pressfield's amazing and brilliant THE WAR OF ART. It helped me get focused, and then I got to work. I didn't really feel like it, I had no ideas AT ALL, but I decided to KEEP ON KEEPING ON. I decided to TRUST THE PROCESS. I decided to just keep my BIC (butt in chair) until I had a draft of a new short story. And you know how this ends...I got one! Because guess what? The PROCESS WORKS! The structure works. The routine works. I've just got to KEEP ON KEEPING ON. Anyone can spin a tale when the inspiration strikes, but it takes a PRO to write a great draft when you're completely uninspired. So here's the thing about the groove, the sweet spot...it doesn't just come to you. You've got to sit down, BIC, sharpen that pencil, and just start writing. KEEP ON KEEPING ON.
The story will come. Day after day. There is no end to the resources for creativity in our brains. We've just got to KEEP ON KEEPING ON.
My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.