the desire for greatness

letting go of the 'potential' for greatness to celebrate the is-ness of the here and now

the desire for greatness
Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash

I haven't opened my WIPs in over a week now. I'm thoroughly enjoying this break from writing fiction and trying to earn a living from doing so.

Although, technically speaking, those two are entirely different endeavours. But, especially in the past couple of years, they've become inexplicably intertwined in my head, and I'm not able to do one unless it is accompanied by the other.

Meaning, I've gotten into this mindset that I can write books only if they can yield me a living. That writing books that no one reads (ok, that maybe 1 or 2 people other than me read) is not worthwhile. That I need to have a large catalogue of books to make money.

What ended up happening was that I couldn't take a break without feeling guilty. On days when I hadn't added to the word count in some way, I'd start to feel as though I'll never get to the goal.

Although making a full-time living from writing is a vague goal at best, because even if I did earn a pretty penny for one month or one year, there's no saying how the next month or year would turn out.

Unlike being a salaried employee wherein you know how much you'd earn in a given pay check, even though holding on to a job is also not so much of a guarantee these days. Although there's likely more stability on that front than on the publishing side of things.

Anyhow, I digress.

But turns out I haven't been able to balance writing and monetizing it as well as I was hoping to. Or maybe I haven't given myself a long enough timeframe, but somehow mixing arts and finances has only led me to burnout and frustration.

So much so that I've been so happy to not open my manuscript and work on it. This break has been good. Much has been happening on the life front, and I expect this summer to be extremely busy too. So writing fiction is one of the things I'm going to have to let slide.

For me, it requires headspace that I don't have currently. I could make room in my head to write but then that seems to leave little room to hang out with D and engage with him fully and with presence.

I know what I value more, and it's interesting that I'm finally able to make this choice without feeling guilt or overwhelm, without 'should'ing myself or comparing myself with peers who seem to be able to juggle ten times more things with that much more ease.

There's something else I've come to realize.

In this pursuit of a large readership or a pay check, I've been holding on to the belief that my efforts don't matter unless it has a great impact.

And despite all my spiritual learnings and experiences, I've turned to looking outwards for that validation.

But the truth is I have the best writing experience when I'm in the process of it. At that time, it doesn't matter whether someone will read my words or not. The very fact that I expressed myself in this way had nothing to do with whether anyone else will read this or not, but entirely to do with that act of expression.

It's only in the aftermath, when I've released my work to the world, that I start to judge its merit based on how many people have bought it and read it, how many 5-star reviews it has received, what the readers are saying about it.

All that has simply toxified the entire experience, eliminated the joy of writing.

My writing and parenting journeys have so many parallels it's almost uncanny. Just as I was thinking about my efforts and the 'potential' I'm always trying to reach but that forever seems out of reach, my favourite conscious parenting coach, Dr. Shefali, has released a podcast addressing this same issue that we face when it comes to our children.

Our deep desire for them to reach their 'potential'. If you watch the video from 21:09 onwards, you'll know what I mean.

As Dr. Shefali says,

Start celebrating the small wins instead of focusing on the potential grand wins that may never come!

It's the same for me. Instead of focusing on the 'potential' of making a career out of writing books, I can start celebrating the fact that I love writing and that I show great intrinsic motivation in writing and publishing stories I love.

I have made the outcome (earning money) so important that I've crippled my own joy of writing, coming from a sense of lack and shame.

So here's to letting go of grand expectations and celebrating what's in front of me, right here, right now!