Monday, September 24, 2007

Plowing Through the Process

My mom always advised me of the old cliche, "Life is not a destination, it's a journey."
This is because I was always saying, "I can't wait for X." Before I started school, I wished to be in school; then I couldn't wait for jr. high and then I couldn't wait to get a job; then I wished I could be out of school, get married, buy our first house, etc.
Well, you ge the picture. My mom was always trying to tell me to enjoy whatever part of life I was in at the time. "One day, you'll wake up and wonder who that old lady is in the mirror and your life will be behind you; your can't waits will be over," she told me at the end of hers.
But old habits are hard to break. After my husband and I set ourselves up for a life change this summer, we got what we wished for - nothing in our lives at this point is the same as it was this time last year - and while I tried to 'enjoy the journey,' it was hard when things didn't immediately go as we envisioned.
Try as I might to enjoy where I was at the time, I still found myself saying, "I can't wait until...."
The longer I write as a profession, the more I find myself doing this with my stories as well. Gathering information and research, conducting interviews and just getting through the process so I can get to the next.
Last week, I got an assignment from a new-to-me-editor I wanted desperately to impress. I liked the topic and got so caught up in the research - actually finding myself enjoying the process so much that I was almost late with my deadline.
I realized after I filed the story that I hadn't enjoyed a topic like that in a very long time - that because I wasn't enjoying the journey, some of my stories lately were lacking passion.
Like books, I watch movies not only to be entertained, but to challenge myself to learn something from them. This past week I watched two that touched on this very issue. Harry Connick Jr. in "Hope Floats" tells Sandra Bullock's character that creating architecture is an art to him, that by trying to turn it into a profession (presumably for a large firm), he twisted it until he lost his passion - or something like that.
In the movie "Serendipity," John Cusak's friend tells him that the Greeks didn't write obituaries, they simply asked one question about the deceased: "Did he have passion?"
I don't know if that's true, but it struck a chord with me, maybe more than all of those years of trying to see life as a journey rather than the destination.
Passion is what we should be bringing to all of our writing, because when that is lacking, we somehow fail the people we are trying to inform (or in the case of fiction, those we are trying to entertain).
So, my goal - not just for this week - but for all of my writing, will be to enjoy the journey a bit more and find topics that bring passion back to my writing life.
As for my non-writing life, it is stabilizing, but with an addition to the house and 2 buildings to construct on our property, I will be reminded to try to find my passion in whatever step we're in and enjoy that journey.


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