Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.
~ Henry Van Dyke
The other day when I wrote a bit at the end of this post about sharing a dream you might have or anything else you wished to discuss, I received an email from someone who wrote about her desire to have a dream that motivated her or a hobby or cause that could be as she put it, “close to her heart.” She went on to say that she thought her fears around financial stability and the American economy might be one of the things keeping her from allowing herself to ” find her dream and pursue it with passion.”
I thought her email was an excellent place to open a conversation around living with passion and going after your dreams despite fears of not having or being enough.
A few years ago my friend Patrice would occasionally watch American Idol (when I begged her to stay and watch it with me) and as she listened to the anguish of those who were not going on to the next round crying and wailing about how, ” Singing was their whole life and all they’d ever wanted, ” Patrice would say in the direction of the television, ” So sing, find places to do it if it’s that important.” Of course this comment opened the door to conversations about singing without public acclaim or financial reward and if it was one’s whole life as the contestants said, was the singing itself the important part or was it the fame and money of an American Idol win?
Listening to her talk out loud to the people on the program created a perfect opportunity for me to consider my own dreams. I was working a day job where I was well paid for my time, but I was always dreaming of a writing life. During my time off I was generally brain tired and complained a lot of creative fatigue, but I was also wasting time on a variety of things like my American Idol nights. Most importantly, I was not getting any writing done other than scribbling story ideas on bits of paper or spinning out marketing ideas for my job.
Patrice’s comments made me think about whether it was writing or being read that was most important in creating the life I wanted as a writer and storyteller. I think deep down we know what our are dreams are even if it’s just a tiny seed of something we’ve tucked away thinking that we don’t have time for it now because we have to earn a living, feed the children, clean the house, walk the dog, and anything else you wish to put here ________.
While money and security are important so is the chance to live fully and I don’t believe that you need to give up one for the other. You do have to make time for it somewhere and that’s where most of us fall short. Some folks seem to be better at managing it all. John Grisham used get up and write for a few hours before work and I frequently read about published authors who write whole books with babies in their laps.
I will confess that I have not been as disciplined in the past as I could have been with regard to my writing. I tend to spend too much time on research and other distractions and I am just now understanding the need to commit to a firm schedule of uninterrupted writing time. I don’t think I could do it with a baby in my lap and at this stage of my life, I am glad I don’t have to, but I do need to stop doing things that keep me from having total focus on finishing the stories in my head.
I would write whether someone paid me or not and blogging has been a good starting point providing a balance for me between writing for myself and being read. That said, a bit of financial success from writing would be good to have and is certainly part of the motivation behind the need I feel to focus and deliver a larger finished product than what you see here.
I have found a level of satisfaction and a sense of security through blogging that I could not have imagined from being seen and heard here at GOTJ, but with a desire to finish some of my larger projects, I feel a need to spend more of my writing time on the big stuff which means cutting back here a bit or at least putting myself on a tighter schedule.
I appreciate more than you know everyone who stops by and puts ” money ” in the meter with kind your words and support and I’m not disappearing just readjusting my routine. It might be good to subscribe in the top right corner if you don’t want to miss me and I’ll drop into your inbox each week like a letter from a friend.
Sometimes I have to distinguish between a heart’s desire (passion) and a whine. I had a case of this this very summer.
I realized I was feeling very sorry for myself because I’d never done a “season” at the Santa Fe Opera, like I’d been deprived of one of my heart’s desires.
So I said to myself, Just buy a season’s ticket. And I did.
Last night I finished the series of five operas. I really enjoyed one of them. But that’s not the point. The point is there was a reason why I had never “done” the opera.
For one thing, the opera house is open on both sides and the sun sets late in the summer (this makes such a stunning backdrop), so the opera waits until 9pm, my regulation bedtime, to start. For me, this involves trying to get in a nap in the afternoon, and having coffee for dinner, and a sort of a hang over the next two days just to be able to stay awake until 1pm. And even with that, staying awake isn’t possible. So it wasn’t deprivation that was keeping from the season; it was practicality and good sense.
Now I really know that going to the SFe Opera is not one of my passions. But next year, I’ll still go out to dinner with my friends and enjoy them, and then go home and meet my bed time with great gratitude. Buying those tickets was a fabulous idea!
Thanks, Elizabeth, for all you have shared. I stumbled upon your blog just a few weeks ago and have thoroughly enjoyed your photos and appreciated getting to “know” you. I recently subscribed in order to follow the comments. It really does save a little time–minutes that can add up if you check on several bloggers–the notices are great. Clck, click and the message is deleted, but then I only click on GOTJ when there is something new to read.
My library is seeking Writing Down the Bones for me–on your recommendation.
Looking forward to your future (though less frequent) posts and wishing you godspeed with your other endeavors.
I’ve been away – hence the sluggish reply to your question…
I find taking photos of birds really rather difficult (and I totally adore the little chap walking through the flowers further up on your page). What I did to get that tern photo you’ve enquired about was as follows: a monopod, a fast shutter speed (1/8000) and a a moment of good enough light. I shouldn’t have used the lens (a 100-400 zoom) but that was the only one I had at hand. I generally throw away between 50% and 80% of the bird photos I take –
I hope your writing goes well!!!
I’m glad you’re figuring out what you need to do to make room for your writing. As I noted a couple posts ago, it was tragic to live with someone who never fulfilled that need. What you have to say matters and I just affirm whatever schedule or rigor you need to apply to get the words out.
Oh Elizabeth..you’ve expressed so many of my own sentiments here with such perfect clarity. Such an important question to ask oneself – is it the writing…or the being read that is the most important. And how does making a living play into greater importance than making a life???
I fully appreciate..applaud and respect your need to cut back your time here in this blogging world. Best of luck to you and your writing adventures!
“Patrice’s comments made me think about whether it was writing or being read that was most important in creating the life I wanted as a writer and storyteller.”–
Oooooohhh good question. This whole post hits me right in the kisser, actually. I have been asking myself th same thing about my online time, and writing. I feel a need to get real about it. Treat it like a job. Now that both kids will be gone most the day,I don’t have that “baby on my lap” excuse, do I? Hmm.
Blogging also filled a need in me. And it still is true. But that is not all, anymore.
You go girl. You are an inspiration. You remind me of one of my favorite quotes: “You only live once, but if you live it right, once is enough”. I am sooo looking forward to reading your “great American”, oops, make that reading your “great” novel. Wonder who will play me in the movie?………….too bad Grace Kelley is gone………
Justy a guess here and it will be interesting to see if things come out as I guess them, but I think once you have that discipline set up as a habit, I suspect that your writing and blogging will both feature large in your life. They meet different needs, at the same time as they overlap.
But in any case, I and many others support your decision and your wish to focus as you feel is needed. xo
It’s so hard to find time to write. Even though my kids are teens, I want to spend time with them on weekends and at night when I am not working, so I have two unfinished books I really want to work on and very little time. “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans” is one of my favorite quotes, from John Lennon.
Go to your dream! I look forward to hearing updates on your ‘longer’ projects. I think it’s important for you to make time to seriously pursue them.
Ah, what a most wonderful post. I have let my blog lie fallow this past week as I once again rethink writing. Writing or be read? I’d like to have both. To write words to inspire others, to be a cheerleader and spread joy of life. Private words in a journal, not meant to be read are special too.
Writing requires discipline and it is during these halcyon summer days that my discipline is so easily misplaced. Ah well, sometimes one needs a break from writing to find new inspiration.
I have always lived my dreams although with age they have been redefined and reshaped. Money is always worrisome but I need little to survive.
Those who say would have, could have, should have are going to be so sad when they look back. Always try. What’s the worst that could happen?
Thanks for an inspiring post.
Dear woman, you are an inspiration! Write away and keep us up to date on you when you can. Thanks for taking us along as you dream out loud.
I had a very lucrative career as a TV-movie writer for about 25 years and while I miss the money, I have to say for pure creative freedom and writing enjoyment, blogging has been the best. Go now and write your stories. Write for yourself and from your heart. Good work always finds an audience. I’m signing up for your feed so I don’t lose track of you, my friend.