What I’m Up To

It’s a new year, but what does that mean, really? Here in Iowa along the Mississippi River it’s still winter, still the middle of the school year, and I’m still the same me I was two weeks ago. I keep considering my resolutions or my “one word” to inspire me for the year, but in doing that I’m also confronted with the way there’s always time later. Goals are good, but mine are ever-changing. What’s a new year when my plans are uprooted in the middle of July?

My goals this year:

  • Write more often (as in more than once every other week. Twice a week? At least?)
  • Read at least a few pages from an actual book every day
  • Set goals for starting my nonprofit (like are we doing that this year or next year?)
  • Give a little more grace to everyone, myself included
  • Be content with just being me (more on that in an entirely different post later)

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    Me at my me-est, courtesy of my sis-in-law (who is totally gorgeous in this photo) on New Year’s Eve.

Yes, my goals are mostly to just actually set concrete goals. And they mostly involve getting better at writing. I keep sitting down to write, and words elude me. I’m not blank. Words string through my mind all day long, a constant monologue interrupted only by conversation or the 8 pm episode of whatever we’re currently streaming on Netflix. But when I sit down? Words jumble to the front of my mind, all trying to come out at once.

My draft count on WordPress alone is currently 17. That’s 17 blog posts started and probably hardly looked at again. I’d love to say that I at least have notebooks filled with shitty writing, but I don’t even have that. I’m stuck between a desire to engage, build a platform, gain a following, and this nagging idea that it’s all just shouting into a void and hoping for a reply that may never come. Because who cares? But if anyone does care why do we care? And is it important?

I’ve also been struggling with what to write. What is my purpose? Where do I draw the line? How do I protect the people I love–my relationships with them–while still telling the truth? These are serious questions, and if you have your own operating theory and ethic for writing, please share that with me. I’m very interested in knowing what you have to say.

The facts are these: I desire to write. I love it. I want to get better (hence the goal of reading more). Also, I mostly suck at writing. Who doesn’t? Natalie Goldberg has been my guide in that understanding recently, as I reread her book Writing Down the Bones. For that reason, and the conflict of conscience I outlined above, writing has involved a lot of fear for me lately. However, I’m convinced that most writers start out with 70-90% crappy writing, what we get to see is the 10% that comes out good. My job right now is to write, write, write. That may not include sharing. I’m not sorry for it. The payoff will come later.

I know I won’t live forever, which is good, it gives me a sense of urgency. But I’m okay with later.

I’m also learning how to live with anxiety, raise a child, be a good wife and functioning member of my community. For me, right now, those take precedence. But I’m finding the balance.

Balance will come, right? As long as I keep working at it and praying for it, I know it will.

Balance is relative anyway.

For now, I’m just trying to make out the target. I’m a little aimless right now, but I know even now I’m still working toward a goal. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps,” says Proverbs 16:9. I have an idea in my head of where I’m going, and the Lord goes before me, he’s already done all the work, I just have to follow the path carved out for me.

And, without trying to sound fatalistic here, I kind of have no choice. All I can do is put one foot in front of the other, keep going, and as I go I’ll gain clarity. I’m believing that today, this year. For you and for me.

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