We as writers are architects of a sort. W e build and create worlds, universes, characters, and a story that we hope sets the world on fire as the next phenomenal success. OH come on, we all know writer’s fantasize about such things.
A great writer and friend recently announced his success with a huge contract. I was so excited for him, yet slightly discouraged at my own lack of contract. I’m not jealous, bear with me here. I happen to know for a fact that this person is hard-working and diligent in his writing.
I have to admit a certain bit of self-pity for why I didn’t have a contract, but in all honesty I let things get to me and I quit writing for several months. First, there was the sabotage and destruction of several years of my work. I felt devastated and betrayed – how would I ever recover? * insert melodramatic arm over forehead here* Which was shortly followed by accusations thrown at me like a barrage of live ammo. This led to confusion, heartache and more feelings of betrayal. Then on the heels of that came the news that my friend who was in the process of leaving her abusive husband died in a car crash the day she finally decided to seek shelter in a safe house; she never made it there. My aforementioned personal grief tied with the grief of her untimely death led me to an automobile accident. I think sleep apnea also played a part in the unclear thinking as well.
I was far more rattled than I admitted or would ever like to admit. Between the psychological effects of the other things and the physical injuries from the accident, comments like “Wow you are lucky to be alive” were made light of and was quickly reminded why it was all my fault.
I was responsible for the car crash, I freely admit that. Ruined a perfect driving record up to that point, but no consideration was extended to me for why suddenly I had a lack of judgment. Whatever, I’m not trying to make excuses here, just saying it like it is.
My point is I withdrew. I didn’t write, I didn’t talk to many people. I didn’t do any of the things I knew I should be doing. I just couldn’t handle it emotionally. I spent days fighting the sensation that my world was falling apart at the seams, and that my trust was betrayed on such an intimate level I may never recover. Through all of it though, I’ve had some great friends that slowly coaxed me out of that shell, and back to my usual self. Getting the sleep apnea addressed also had a tremendous effect on helping me to get my feet back under me.
It is not easy for an overachiever such as myself to admit failings; any failings or weakness. It’s not easy to be in a place physically that the pain is mind numbing and I can barely walk from the bedroom to the kitchen without wincing. I’ve been so busy beating myself up over not being able to do the 3.5 miles that I was doing just a year ago, that I didn’t allow myself any sort of praise or sense of accomplishment for walking 1.8 miles because it was a ridiculously slow pace. I was too focused on what I didn’t do to acknowledge that it was 1.8 miles more than I was able to do a few short months ago.
Set backs happen. We just aren’t used to them happening to us. I’m a great coach for my friends, cheering them on with the smallest accomplishments but extend absolutely no mercy or grace for my own small progress.
So, you may be thinking I’ve gone on another tangent but I haven’t. You see, my friend Abyrne’s success was a reminder to me of what I was working for, what I’ve been trying to achieve. Before my life went to hell, people were coming to me for advice, for hints and tips. After I crashed and burned - sat on my butt and felt sorry for myself and reverted to old habits – nobody was seeking me out for advice.
Several people have given me opportunities to assist them in building their own dreams. I took a few, let a few pass. Maybe I chose the wrong ones, maybe I didn’t, but every single choice is a learning experience. In each opportunity was a hard and fast reminder of my architecture.
What am I building? In assessing what I’ve done for this year, not much. I hooked my wagon to a team of horses that didn’t go to the destination they claimed. I’ve given a lot of hard work to someone else’s dreams meanwhile my own blueprints lay on the light table gathering dust. I’ve been building someone else s dreams, not my own.
How in the world can I be upset with Abyrne? He has been diligently plodding away doing what writers do while I wallowed in my own self pity and newly acquired injuries wishing it to happen. It doesn’t work that way. Nobody is going to work on my dreams. Nobody is going to build my dream castle. Yet, here i was giving some of my best efforts to someone else s dreams. Whose fault is that?
NO, Abyrne inspired me to do what I knew to do in the first place which is to write. I know I can write well. I know I can put a good story together. I’ve spoken publicly and had the audience rolling, holding their sides from laughter. I also know I can put another sort of story together that keeps my readers on the edge of their seat wanting more and turning the next page.
So . . .
I am exercising that little word that I have trouble with – NO! I am reclaiming my own dreams and blueprints. I am spending less and less time donating my time to other people’s dreams and building my own! I Like Pitbull, the artist. I like the line he says in “Feel this Moment”:
Time is money only difference is I own it! Like a stopwatch let’s stop time and enjoy this moment.
I can’t say that I owned it. I knew better – know better! When you recognize a bad habit though you change it. Working class exchange time for money whether in a 9 to 5 job or through other means of income. Wealthy class exchange money for time. I want to get to the point where I can pay someone else to do the things that are taking up too much of my time. For now I have to regain my time for money and it’s not for minimum wage. I have skills, knowledge and abilities. My time is valuable and I have to be the one to set the boundaries.
Here’s a truth that is universal: people will treat you like you will let them treat you. How are you being treated? Do you like it? Do you feel like you should be treated better? Treated with respect? What are you doing that you are allowing them to use you and treat you poorly?
I was feeling sorry for myself and feeling like I wasn’t worth anything. I was being treated as such. NO MORE!
My architectural firm just began its latest project: a long overdue dream castle!
What are you building?
Write on my friends, and don’t sell yourself short!