A recent game I tapped into on Yahoo Games had a cute message as it loaded up:
"i am somewhat impatient, but i know that the game will be loaded soon"
It made me think so much of my own life--well, two aspects of it, anyway. You see, all my life I've been struggling with my weight. I could never fit into my older sister's hand-me-downs as a kid (and that was pointed out quite often, given our financial hardship), and even now, as a Zumba Fitness instructor and careful eater, I still have trouble losing a pound. My husband gives up desserts and loses ten pounds without really thinking much about it. He admits he would have given up years ago if he'd seen as little progress as I have in trying to lose weight.
Yet I've seen the same sort of success in my writing. (Translation: not bloody much). I've sent out tons of queries and received nearly as many rejection slips (nearly as many only because many agents and publishers don't send replies if they don't like something). Not a single request for more material. My plays have been only slightly more successful, only because I've been pretty lucky to find places where I can do a staged reading or get some great feedback.
So why do I do this? People have asked me why I don't just give up. Why continue to do Zumba if it doesn't make the pounds drop off the way it seems to for everybody else? Why keep writing if I don't sell any novels?
I see the rational basis for this. It is logical. But it errs because it's based on an assumption which simply isn't true: it assumes I do these two things only because of the outcome I'm hoping for.
I know many who do. I know all sorts of people who try Zumba--or vegetarianism, or some diet fad--only because of the outcome they hope for. I know writers who are only concerned with completing a novel so that it can be marketed.
They and I do not work towards the same ends. Or perhaps, for me, the ends simply aren't as important as the act of doing. Why do I do Zumba? Because I adore Zumba. It is more fun than I have doing any other physical activity. It fills me with joy, fosters in me a belief in my own beauty and sexuality, frees me like nothing else does. The act itself is fantastic, no matter its outcome.
The same goes for writing. I don't write to finish. The process is what matters. Writing is my therapy, my shy chance to speak, the who I am in a long list of whats. It's part of my chromosomal make-up, and the only frustrating parts of it include not making enough time for it and not being as good a writer as I would like. But writing is bliss. Sheer bliss.
I suppose the title is a lie, then. I don't have to be patiently waiting for the outcomes I would love to happen. I'm delirious in the moment, charged with energy and elated by the passion of these two activities. I'm not really waiting patiently for anything. It's already here.
Where do you find your joy? Do you hold onto this, or does the outcome matter more?