Before I get into it, I had to sit down with the Wee Horde this morning for a business meeting.
“I know you miss Mommy, and you’re upset that she’s gone, again.” Mrs. Dave vamoosed for parts more conducive to Freedom and Democracy a couple days back, and we had a pretty solid day that morning, and then it really sunk in to Wee and Wee-er Dave’s heads that Mommy Is Gone, Again. And … while all heck hasn’t broken loose, it’s certainly been more stressful for all three of us.
“But deliberately working to upset your brother/sister/father with poor and, or rowdy behavior only serves to make things harder on all of us.” I mean, I don’t exactly enjoy it when Wee-er Dave decides instructions, or even Daddy’s voice, are worth ignoring. Or hitting. Or biting. Or screaming. Lots and lots of screaming. Not the “I’m in pain” screaming, but the 0-60, Thwarted Will rage-shriek. And it’s a good one, too, by my discerning ear.
“And it’s extra hard because I still have lots of things I have to do. I have to cook food for you, and do laundry, and clean the house, and wash dishes. And all of that cuts down on the amount of time I can spend with you, and that frustrates me just like it frustrates you.” And it does, though I’m not completely altruistic about how I spend my time. Daddy needs Without Littles Time, and that’s unfortunately one of the first things to go by the wayside when Mommy is away.
“Can we work on being kinder to each other? Less angry and violent?” And the heck of it is they immediately settled down and got on task. Don’t ask me why. Could have to do with the simple acknowledgement by Daddy that we’re all having a rough time, and it sucks, and we have room to improve. Or maybe it was just focused attention and a calm voice. Either way, I’ll take it. Of such things dreams are made.
Speaking of which (he says, pulling the cured pig-meat gloves off) it’s time we talked about what gets your soul revved and moving. I’m pretty sure I’ve brought this up before, but it’s an important topic, and, ahhh, topical (sorry) to me right now. And since I’m the least professionally accomplished of the Mad Geniususususes (that one’s hard to stop spelling), you get what’s going on with me and how it can be of use to you. Learn from my mistakes, Ebenezer Scrooge! *rattles notebooks*
There are the basics. Dreams are the things that rev the engine of your soul and get you moving forward. Once Upon a Time, “become a NYT bestseller” or “publish with X house” were not abnormal (still aren’t, though you maybe should have your head examined), but these days – at least among those frequenting our Dark und Scurry corner of the Interwebz – it’s more likely to be things like “quit my day job and write full time” or “pay all the bills with writing royalties.”
Goals are what keep us moving forward, and depending on how you break such things down, they’re dreams made concrete. “Write a chapter a day” or “increase income by X each month” are reasonable goals. I’ve heard it said that Dreams are things that happen to you, while Goals are things you can actually make happen. I’m not sure I entirely agree with this, but it’s a useful metric. For example, “distill award winning whiskey” is a dream, as it depends on someone else, while “finish X series” is a goal toward which you can work. While you can learn to distill, and build a distillery, acquire permits, source and acquire materials, do the work, and produce whiskey, there’s no guarantee that you’re ever going to win an award for it. See also: the Gray Hag’s fixed list. Write the best book you can, and there’s still no guarantee anybody’s going to buy it and love it.
Thanks for being a downer, Dave. You’re welcome, and I’m glad you came to my little Theodore talk. See, the thing is about recognizing the downsides, and proceeding from there. While you may never write a book everybody loves (or even enough to keep you in beer and Skittles *cough*) you can write the best book you can, and then do it again, and again, and again. And that’s dead simple: put words together, in an order which describes a series of connected events, and how a person deals reacts to them. Not easy, necessarily, but dead simple.
I’m talking at you about dreams and goals because I’m having trouble remembering what it’s like to dream. Parenting, especially solo parenting, narrows your world to such an extent that dreams become things like “have a truly clean house,” or “finally clear out the garage.” Seriously, that last one weighs heavily on my spirit. Through some conversations with a friend, I’m working to stretch those atrophied muscles, and figure out what I want out of life. Somewhere out beyond “get more sleep.” And I think it’s going to help my writing, if only because it’s a creative process, and the more creating we do, the better we get at doing it.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. So much of our existence is constrained by our circumstances and our habits. Still, breaking out of the rut can be as simple as sitting down for a few minutes and pondering what could be, if only… And from there, it’s often surprisingly easy to start working out the steps between Where I Am, and Where I Want To Be. Even if it’s only a creative exercise, it gets revs the engine. What’s more, it brings hope, and I find we’re all in need of that.