Friday, July 03, 2015

The WHENs and the NOWs

"Clock" by Dineshraj Goomany is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
A short time ago, an internet friend sent me a link to an essay she'd tried to read. "This essay is SO DREADFUL," she said. "Can you believe she's a published author?"

After reading the essay (all of it) myself, I sent her a note back. It hadn't seemed THAT dreadful to me. I had, in fact, been able to connect with the writer through her essay, but only after I pushed through a flowery beginning and waded through some roughly worded paragraphs to get to the point: Motherhood is hard and sometimes we need a break, even if that break isn't doing what we'd really love to be doing. At least that's the point I took away from it. (This may say more about where I'm at in my life than about the author's intent and skill, though.)

As I responded to my friend, I found myself thinking a thought I'd had plenty of times before. If this author could publish such a poorly written essay, why can't I get published?

The answer wasn't far behind: Because you're not writing.

That's not entirely true. I have a couple of freelance jobs going, but they're more editing and formatting than writing. I'm writing this blog post--right here, right now. And I'm always jotting notes for the books and stories and essays I want to write WHEN. You know: WHEN.

WHEN I have time.

WHEN the kids are older.

WHEN I'm not so tired.

WHEN the house is clean.

WHEN I'm a better writer.

I know you have them, too. They may not be the same as mine, but I'm sure you have your own WHENs. WHENs are those things that hold us back before we even get started. They give us room to wait, when what we really need to be doing is plowing forward, pushing the WHENs to the side and experiencing the NOWs.

When I sit down to write, finally taking advantage of one of the many short-but-quiet moments life lends me each day, I realize there are NOWs waiting for me.

NOW this feels right.

NOW I have so many stories to tell.

NOW I can write while the kids are napping.

NOW I don't care if the house is clean.

NOW I'm a writer.

The words flow and the negative Inner Editor quiets down, if only for a few minutes. I put words to page and feel that rush of relief and the peace of knowing I'm doing what makes me alive, happy, full.

I realize in those moments that the WHENs are just excuses to stay stuck in the daily grind, in the self-doubt and discontent. Once I start writing despite the WHENs, I find the NOWs were waiting for me all along.

What are your WHENs? How can you move into the NOW?

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