This Is Writing, at 40

I’m feeling reflective this month, and I’m not sure if it’s because I turned forty last week or because my kids are growing up so fast, or because I recently traveled abroad.

Or, perhaps it’s because I’ve been on submission with my novel for nine months now, and nothing has happened. (Yes, this might very well be it.)

But here’s the gist of what’s been cycling in and out of my mind:

I thought when I turned 40, I would be at a different place than I am now.

I could list a whole lot of examples here, but quite frankly, it’s boring, stupid stuff. I wish I weren’t so superficial. I wish I could be zen about life. I wish I could spend my days meditating and writing profound things and be at peace with where I am in life.

But I can’t. I am a deeply flawed individual who cares too much about achievement.

I have no one to blame but my own, Type-A self.

But turning forty has helped me to realize something– I need to recalibrate my thinking. I have to take a step back more often, and step away from the pressures I inflict on myself. I have to stop pushing myself to do more or be more.

I have to understand that the ultimate measure for success in writing, is the joy in the process of writing. Not the result at the end.

Amidst the angst of being on submission with my novel, I seem to have forgotten what incredible joy writing this book has brought me. I have forgotten about the dreams I’d have where I’d come up with a great plot twist or the chills that would crawl down my spine when I realized that one of my characters had a far darker side than I’d ever imagined. I forgot about how it felt to bust out laughing while sitting at the dining room table when I wrote something funny.

SunflowersHow could I have forgotten what it felt like when I got to the end? To type, THE END so loudly and proudly I nearly busted the keys in my laptop? To print it out, all 300-something pages, and tell my kids– Yes, I wrote this. I wrote this whole thing by myself.

Somewhere along the line, the novel had transformed itself from a piece of my soul to a mere email attachment garnering rejection letters.

When did I forget the joy? I don’t know. But if I am lucky enough to live another forty years on this earth, I hope never to lose sight of the joy of writing again.