Quest2015: twelve days with twelve visionaries to envision my best work in the next twelve months.
But these twelve are not exactly the Twelve Days of Christmas. The gifts of these prompts are loaded ones; they are not light, fluffy offerings, but rather, invitations to sit with the darkness, to grapple with giants, to push off the edge of the map into the bits past the cautionary label “Here Be Monsters.” Like the magical objects offered to the questing third sons in fairy tales, these prompts come loaded with powers that can turn on the wielder like the slip of a sharp knife.
Today’s prompt, from visionary Seth Godin, is titled, “Who Will Miss You?” Seth asks
Who would miss you if you were gone? If you didn’t show up to work, didn’t send out that newsletter, didn’t make that sales call, didn’t tweet that tweet… who would miss it? How does your answer shape how you’ll live out 2015?
You know who would miss me if I didn’t show up to work?
I don’t mean that to sound pathetic. It’s simply true. I’m an unpublished writer. I show up to work at my laptop, the only witness a geriatric terrier. When I write, we’re happy–I’m doing what I’m meant to do, and she’s curled up in a little ball of fuzz doing what she does best, what she can do even in her sleep–keeping me anchored, at least a little, in reality.
I blog weekly, tweet when I think about it, query agents, and keep on writing. Sometimes people read what I write and I think they find value in it, but I don’t know that anyone would have a hissy fit or even particularly notice if I didn’t write for a while.
It surprises me how little this bothers me, and for this realization I’m thankful. Sometimes I worry that I’ll get too caught up in the desire to publish, to make a living doing what I love. I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that, for me, writing is necessary. I couldn’t not write and be a remotely happy human being. Writing is how I think, how I make sense of the world and myself and others in it. I want to be published–I want it with a burning intensity that sometimes scares me a little. I want it with a ferocity that the non-publishing non-writers in my life don’t entirely understand. For an awkward introvert, I’m pretty ambitious. But I don’t want to write for the sake of being published. I want to be published so I can support this addictive habit I have of smooshing words together on paper.
And I want to be heard.
Right now, my fiction is reaching an audience of the select few critique partners and beta readers who’ve been gracious enough to spend time with it. One of my novels is with an agent who requested it several months ago. It feels like several million years ago. I’m learning patience–never, ever one of my strong suits. Maybe this is why, right now, I’m okay with my canine witness of one. I’m learning that things happen in the fullness of time, that success never comes overnight, no matter how much it may appear that way to a casual observer.
I want to be heard. I want it to matter to people if I stop writing. But I’m not at that point yet, and that is okay. That’s what I’m working toward, and my experiences with writing over the past several years are gradually rewriting me. I think I’m becoming a better writer–and human–because of them.
So for now, I’m content to know that the only one who’d notice if I didn’t show up is woman’s best friend. She’s not even here for the words–she’s just in it for the company, for the connection.
And really, ultimately, that’s what this writing gig is all about.