Circularity. The cycle of seasons. I have a multitude of seeds and seedlings, stories that whispered in my ear enough to get their beginnings etched in pixels, but no farther. The more time passes, the more the newness and excitement wilts, until those pixels and words become foreign to me and new again.
Here in this season of winter and water, I feel the water rising, the urge to do. The wood element’s frenetic spring energy: the deadlines, the goals. I need to finish all these works-in-progress! Can I release three books this year? I’m ready to take the plunge into ads again. It’s time to step-up my newsletter!
I temper it with the process. Self-care. Being with possibility. Rumination. Edits. Checklists. A steady-but-surely thrum of doing. Dedicating a week to not-directly-writing-related projects. Waking up at five before the sun to capture a few words and then leaving it for a few days. Opening the day’s documents like meandering in a flower field, carefully selecting which color and form suit my mood. No rush but not quite stillness, either, this process of being with all the things that call my name: my stories, my children, my book cover business, and even myself as I push my self-care.
In some ways, tending this crop of stories feels like when I first started writing, a whirlwind of speed-dating as I got to know myself. So many styles, voices, and choices. And at the same time, I am so different. I’ve learned so much with each beta read and each book birth. I’ve learned that writing is my self-care that can too easily turn into a form of self-harm. It’s a passion which needs to be tempered yet is obliterated by demands. I’m learning to be present and okay with what is and I’m getting better at observing ... this time around.
It’s a grueling process, the ups and downs of a creative industry in a world so easily dismissive. I witness my struggles mirrored around me. And I’m starting to watch writer friends come and go. Some are leaving because they’ve found another calling. Some cannot maintain the course of this path. And some are called away before their time.
This writing microcosm really mirrors life, doesn’t it? I am of a season where I have a special room in my heart for those I’ve lost. I’ve learned that my memories are eternal in that room and I can keep my friends in this comfortable place where they feel just a phone call away. This place where we never age and time never marches on.
And then something happens, a common acquaintance, a song, or some odd trivia like the name of a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that belongs to another place, another time. It’s the seismic jolt of fault lines grating when I’m brought to a new awareness.
In time I realize that these memories I carry are seeds of them. Not the whole of them, no, but moments of a precious aspect of their essence. Katie’s abrupt honesty and ability to laugh. Casey’s ability to shine his fire with a twinkle in his eye for everyone he meets. Bob’s seemingly charlatan yet invaluable gift to turn any simple thing into an all-encompassing world. Adrienne's openness and courage in the face of pain and adversity. Tom’s evergreen posture paired with his easy-going smile and his readiness to be a defender to the bullied. G's open heart and insecurities provoking an immediate camaraderie.
I realize if I go, people will carry seeds of me. All of my singular interactions that are worthy to burn in their memory; it doesn’t need to be an orchestra. Each individual note and each individual player is precious, beautiful. Even the jarring ones.
And every story I write, there are pieces of me there too. My fun side. The flirtatious siren I keep buried under layers of mom-hood and responsibility. My curious side which insisted I minor in philosophy in college. My spiritual side that is relentless in my self-improvement. The critical side that has kept me quiet for so long. And even sides of me I’m still discovering, that come out in characters that leave me thunderstruck.
Until I’m back at the beginning, sowing seeds and nurturing seedlings, in awe of what they might grow into, this time around looking less like landscape architecture and more a type of mystified husbandry.
I might not see all of them to fruition, but I'm better for the process and not the product.
“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing–and keeping the unknown always beyond you.” ~ Georgia O’Keeffe