Thursday, December 14, 2006

Giving a Well-Deserved Gift to Yourself

This time of year, we're bombarded by messages urging us to give. My mailbox
is full of requests from charitable organizations, all worthy causes. Bell
ringers outside of shops and malls remind me daily of the needs of those
less fortunate. I've got e-mailed lists from my daughters indicating what
their Christmas gift preferences are, and I've sent them mine as well. It's
what Christmas is all about we're told, and I think it's true. Although
retailers exploit it, and charities capitalize on it, the idea of thinking
about the needs and wishes of others is at the heart of this holiday, and
the idea itself is noble.

So, giving a gift to myself might seem a bit selfish during a season so
filled with the message of thinking about others. But this holiday season,
I've decided to do just that, by giving myself the gift of time and energy
devoted strictly to my writing. I am by nature a procrastinator, so having
an excuse like Christmas to put off writing projects is perfect for avoiding
what I know I need to do: write.

The fact is, I believe that the desire to write is in itself a gift (though
it sometimes feels like a curse) and I have a responsibility to use it to
the best of my ability. One year, a friend gave me a gift card to a local
department store. I carried that card around in my wallet for over a year
before taking the time to go in and shop. At that point, the card was worth
only half of the original amount. I felt so guilty that I'd wasted the money
of a well meaning friend, and also missed the opportunity to get something
nice for myself without spending my own cash. I've come to believe that
squandering a creative drive is just as wrong, and just as wasteful.

Some personal losses this past year, have driven home to me the message that
we only have a certain amount of time to pursue our dreams and fulfill our
destinies. I now think of my writing just like that gift card. Each day that
I neglect it, I know I'm chipping away at the value of a precious gift. That
is why the most important Christmas present for me this year is from myself.
It is simply to make sure that with all the activity of this season, I still
keep writing.

-Kathy Winn


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