I am nowhere near the end of my 30-Plus Day Challenge to rewrite my young adult novel, but this essay is an ending of sorts. This post completes my goal of publishing 52 consecutive Tuesday morning flyingnotscreaming essays. Dorothy Parker once said, “I hate writing. I love having written.”
Luckily, this year I have learned to love the process of writing as much as the satisfaction of having written. In fact, the hours I’ve spent at my desk have been some of my happiest, but also some of the hardest. I recently read that the opposite of joy is not sadness, but fear. This makes perfect sense to me. Opposite emotions run parallel to one another, and putting words on paper these past months has been a crazy dance back and forth between knee-buckling fear and heart-swelling joy.
The other night my oldest daughter, a budding writer, asked me if I was still posting an essay each week. When I told her I was, she said, quite insightfully, “That must be a lot of work, Mom.”
Yes, it has been a lot of work. As a matter of fact, next to motherhood, it is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It seemed like just when I got one essay done, another one was due. I have found that I write more slowly than I would like. Or I should say, I write well more slowly than I would like. Often I started with ten to twelve pages of a rough draft only to throw out most of it. With what was left, I’d spend hours reworking and polishing every sentence until I had something worthwhile to post. My writing hours were often interrupted by sick children, school vacations and holidays, and even an unexpected surgery. The unpredictability of my schedule added a lot of pressure, but it also fueled my determination.
As did the readers who faithfully subscribed to my site and returned week after week to read what I had written. Thank you for your comments, for your ideas, and for your willingness to let me write about you.
In some ways, this has been a very selfish project. Not only did I get to hone my writing skills, but I got to explore the issues that cropped up in my life. I got to spin out my ideas across the page–sometimes over and over again as with the issue of happiness–and see where I ended up. What I have learned has been invaluable, and well worth the hard work. In hindsight, I realize that instead of me shaping each week’s essay, the essays have been shaping me.
And I’m not done. This isn’t a farewell post or a last goodbye, but it is time for me to take a little break from my flyingnotscreaming site. I will still be writing, my young adult novel is at the point where it needs my full attention reach completion, but I admit it will be a relief to take a break from the pressure of a weekly deadline. At the same time, it makes my heart heavy to think of not posting an essay next week. I will miss the daily unspooling of ideas across the page that help me sort and order my thoughts, and eventually teach me how to look at the world a little more clearly.
This past month I have been searching for a way to continue my flyingnotscreaming site with a little less intensity so I can attend to some other writing projects I am eager to pursue. I have been thinking about my new year’s theme to “do less, and be more.” The writers I admire most–Ernest Hemingway, Edward Abbey, Willa Cather–all have a spare, but powerful style. They say more with just a few plain, well-chosen words. In the spirit of their legacy, I have decided to limit my essays to 500 (or so) words. I will still post weekly because that deadline gets me to my desk on a daily basis, but I will hopefully learn to hone and sharpen my writing skills. Learn to cut to the heart of the matter efficiently yet skillfully and occasionally beautifully. (I am also adding some flexibility to my weekly deadline. If an emergency crops up and I can’t make a Tuesday morning post, I will hang out an “Out to Life” sign for that week. My ultimate goal is the longevity of flyingnotscreaming, not necessarily relentless consistency.)
I hope that you will continue to join me in my ongoing process of learning to fly. I love having you with me. I look forward to meeting you here again in March. Until then . . .
(If you subscribe to my site using the Email Subscription box to the right, you will then be automatically notified when essays resume.)