There is nowhere to go. What you are looking for is right here.
Open the fist clenched in wanting and see what you already
hold in your hand.
There is no waiting for something to happen,
no point in the future to get to.
All you have ever longed for is here in this moment, right now.
~Oriah Mountain Dreamer, “The Call”
I have always been a great believer in “Someday.” We all have our own version, but for me, Someday was a place where I would wake up and find myself a beloved, revered resident. I would be a published, lauded, New York Times best-selling writer. I would spend my days in a sun-drenched, perfectly neat (yet eclectic) office, sitting at my wide, clutter-free desk overlooking a charming and well-kept garden. My dog would sit contentedly at my feet, and there would always a ready supply of hot tea. The windows would be thrown open to welcome the tunes of the local song birds. My bank account would naturally be so full of money from royalties earned from books that my dedicated fans buy in hardback and paperback editions (one to keep perfectly, and one to destroy from repeated readings) that I would have all of my bills set to auto-draft and trust my accountant with the rest. My only concerns would be where to vacation next, and how to kill off my main character in the last chapter. Writing would be easy, and always a pleasure. I would practically bound from my bed at dawn to write and I would have more ideas than I could ever use in a lifetime of writing.
My GPS system refuses to give me the coordinates for “Someday.” My reality looks nothing like that dreamy picture. I bet yours doesn’t either.
It has taken me quite a while to be all right with reality. For most of my adult life, I didn’t think that I could be a “real” writer unless I had hours every day to write in the perfect conditions. I have wasted years putting off working on my novel because there was too much clutter in the office, or because I was too poor to buy a cup of coffee and some time at a table in the local coffee shop. I have put the minutia of life ahead of my writing and my goal to be a writer. I would do it Someday. You know, when I grow up. When I get a better job with better money. When Honey does the same. When we win the lottery, and have nothing to do and nothing to worry about, THEN I would write. Until that time, I would ignore the characters begging to have their stories told. Until then, I would read other people’s books.
I looked all over for the magical pass to grant me access to Someday. I even opened my mind a bit and began to imagine that Someday might be a modern-day Glinda, or Willy Wonka. I became a master glad-hander, always hoping that I might attend the right party and shake Someday’s hand.
Fortunately, a couple of years ago I started following several writers as they blogged, and I woke up enough to realize that Someday is never going to arrive at my doorstep with a bundt cake and a polite excuse for her tardiness. Universally, these working writers are all doing their taxes, cleaning their fish tanks, and complaining that they don’t have enough money to do more than sit at home and write. Some are successful enough to write full-time, but most either still have a day job, or have held one so recently that the shape of that life still shades their days. They write prolifically, and usually complete more than one novel per year in addition to short stories, poems, daily blog posts, and dozens of tweets a day.
So I figured, if they can write while doing laundry and baking a black forest cake, so can I.
I signed up as a participant of NaNoWriMo (www.nanowrimo.org), wrote 56,000+ words in a month – while working full-time and doing all of the other grown-up things that had been my excuse before. I taught myself that I can write in the middle of real life. Some of what I wrote is crap and was painful to write, but some of it breaks my heart with its lyrical strength. I can’t believe that work came out of me while I was working my day job and keeping my gas tank full. There were moments of perfect synchronicity and bliss. Words flowed out of me with such ease that it didn’t seem fair to call it work. Nothing I had ever dreamed of for Someday matched the feeling of being a conduit for something beautiful and profound today.
I finally realized that I am a writer. This is all I have ever wanted to be. It took me 37 years to figure out that writing is something you DO, and not just someone you are or will grow up to be. It isn’t about the perfect office or the right pen and notebook. Writing is about becoming friends with your characters, following them on their adventures, and getting the hell out of your own way.
Writers WRITE. The rest is just cake.
Find authors that you love online. Follow their blogs or their tweets, and learn more about the daily life of a writer. Study them. Be inspired by them.
But most importantly, stop looking for your lottery ticket to Someday, sit your ass down, and write.