It is Wednesday evening as I write this, and the reason I can write it is because on Monday night I wrote three times my new daily word count on the novel.
The daily word count is something I never wanted to have to do. I’m artsy and rebellious like that. I figured having the freedom to not write every day was the only thing I could really call my own. But four years after publishing my first book, and over a year since I abandoned the manuscript for my first novel, it’s time. Done matters. So I’m on the manuscript for novel 2, and I’m going to finish it by my hard-set deadline, and I’m going to do this by my measly, zen-habits-approved underachieving goal of 514 words per day. (See Tip #1 at that link: “do less each day than you think you can.”) Yes, I will. I wrote 1990 words Monday evening, so Tuesday evening I could watch my recorded, two-night finale of Dancing with the Stars, and Wednesday I could write to you.
I used to be mad every day because it was so difficult to find the time and the energy to do what I dream. I wanted things to change. I wanted the day job to change. I wanted grocery shopping to die. And I wanted to continue using a drive-through for all our weekly meals. I would go ’round and ’round the mountain, “I want things exactly how I want them,” “I can’t make that happen yet,” “I’m so mad about it.”
I would tell you, and I would tell myself, there are only two options when you feel unhappy about a situation: You either change it, or you learn to love it. I decided early on in the mountain that the day job is totally the right one for right now, grocery shopping is an absolute must, and I really had to stop with the drive-through if I wanted to A) live until retirement and B) have any savings toward it. I knew these truths down cold. The things could not be changed. But for all that is selfish and unholy, I could not find the love.
I’d go through my grateful list. I’d remind myself all the reasons these have-to things were good and important and even fulfilling in the deep, soulful part of me. But the truth is, I did not want to love them. We can’t love all the things, and cooking was simply never going to be my personal art. And I have an almost principled dislike for not being in my perfectly suited daytime career. (Principled, as in, wouldn’t it be as bad to never pursue my best as it is to dislike my less-than?)
I was a broken record. And I was so sick of being a broken record. Really sick of it, finally. So I went around the mountain one more time, and this time I found another way. I still could not change my realities, and I was tired of trying to hang on to renewed love & gratitude for them. The only thing I could change was the broken record itself. I could stop saying it.
What happened immediately upon this brilliant revelation is that I even stopped saying it to myself. Not, “I wish I was at home writing instead of at work” but, “Tonight I get to write.” No more, “I hate cooking,” but, “I love my new kitchen.” I don’t look for the glorious in the mundane – that’s somewhat more evolved than what I’m doing here. Rather, I’m just looking for the glorious and shutting up about the rest. I talk about the glorious. I think about the glorious. I focus on the glorious.
Someday I will have the career of my dreams. And a cook. And when that day comes, I don’t want my household to feel they barely survived the years before I got there. And, bonus, I’m no longer barely surviving myself. Say better, feel better. I think that’s how it goes. It’s definitely proving true for me.