Would they miss you if you were gone?
What would have to change for that question to lead to a better answer?
This felt very familiar, so I dove into the rag-and-bone shop of this blog and found Seth Godin’s prompt from last year:
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?
My answer then: my dog. My little terrier-mutt, Dijji, who was my constant writing companion and this woman’s best friend. She was the one who witnessed (or at least slept through) the creation of everything I wrote. Years of blog posts. Five novels. Letters to friends. Journal pages crammed with hope and fear and longing.
And now I’m missing her.
I dreamed about her last night, as if my brain somehow anticipated the resurrection of this prompt the way the snowdrops anticipate spring. She was skinny and scruffy, her eyes rheumy, as they were toward the end. But she walked up to me and my heart swelled with comfort at the sight of her, and I touched her soft grizzled fur and for a moment, the world was put back together the way it used to be.
I don’t think I will ever stop missing her. And I don’t think I want to.
But who would miss me? Who is this nebulous they?
I feel fortunate to have very supportive friends and family. The online Quest pack and my critique partners and beta readers have kindly and generously uplifted me at all stages of the writing process. But my novels aren’t “out there” in the larger world yet; I’m still working on this. It’s a long, long process. It’s taught me a lot about patience, about hope, about working toward a goal in manageable stages, about the importance of striving to keep the work uppermost even while working toward its dissemination. You have to keep the love of writing alive no matter what.
I was disheartened last year to read a post by an up and coming author who wrote that if she didn’t get recognition for her work, she wouldn’t write. I can’t imagine not writing, whether the people who would miss me were a legion of screaming fans, or just me.
I know what I need to do, and it isn’t glamorous or earth-shattering or revelatory. I need to just keep on keeping on. I need to finish this novel revision and resubmit it in January.
The new thing I’m planning is to put more of my creative work on this blog. Since I write mostly novels, this is logistically a bit tricksy. But I do have some shorter pieces, and I think it’s time to share them for the sake of the sharing, for the sake of vulnerability but most of all for my holy grail, which is connection.
So I guess my answer to the first question is you. I hope you would miss me. I know I would miss you. Thanks for being here, for witnessing.
And my answer to the second question is this: stay tuned.