Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Art of Waiting Patiently

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?

4 comments:

  1. I like the act of writing, too. If I never publish a word, I'll still write. I can't HELP it. Truthfully, if it were all about being published, I'd spend a lot more time marketing and sending queries. I'd write things that fit far more neatly with what the world says a book's supposed to be instead of what *I* like.

    I'd like to have more people reading it because I like to tell stories. If I never make a dime off of it, that still isn't as cool as touching people and making a difference.

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  2. I write because I like writing, but actually most of my writing never gets written, because it's in my head....
    It's been assumed pretty much forever by my family and old friends that I'd write books. Possibly because I used to send them huge encyclopedic letters from odd places, who knows?
    But when I think of writing a book, to be published... Aaargh!
    I think "Who'd want to read it?" "What do I know about anything anyway." "The world's full of better writers than me."
    I'm too self-critical to get away with it, I think.
    In the meantime, I'll carry on writing undecipherable notes on scraps of paper, and composing prose in the secret library of my mind.
    The only public writing I do now is the occasional blogpost.

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  3. It is nice to have an audience, Stephanie, especially an appreciative one. Even without a huge one, though, I still feel the need to get all this stuff down.

    Soubriquet, your form of writing seems WONDERFUL--spontaneous, thoughtful, reader-centered. It's too bad you have the ugly voices telling you not to put it down. I have those same voices, but I argue with them. Perhaps that is why the outcome is not that important to me. My failure in that would give the voices too much ammunition.

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  4. Where do I find joy? Yes despite the rumors to the contrary I am at times filled with joy. The look in a child's eyes makes me melt, when someone says to me "Wow I never saw it that way." Last night when I got to cook for myself and it actually tasted very good. When in the chill of the night air that spirit speaks loud enough for my dumb deaf ass self to actually hear "You are loved." When a green leaf falls on me and I stop long enough to really see it. These are some of the things and times that truly give me joy and make feel a part of something more than just a planet full of people.

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