When I was a child, it took forever to get from one birthday to the next. Time was a slow-moving beast whose sticky paws held me down and made me wait. Now, whole seasons pass in what feels like an afternoon. I turn my back for one minute and Memorial Day has become Labor Day, and then Halloween and the holidays.
When you are a child, you don’t need to do anything today because there is always tomorrow. You have no sense of urgency, no true belief in “The End.” When we grow up, time shrinks. The long, idle days of doing nothing are suddenly filled with a jostling crowd of demands that turn hours into minutes and months into days. We are so busy wrangling whatever is right in front of us that we lose sight of what’s ahead. Suddenly tomorrow is yesterday and all our good intentions have been shuffled into a dusty corner, where they huddle – forlorn and reproachful.
I am a writer. I have always been a writer. I will always be a writer.
I write almost every day: morning pages, journal entries, marketing content, a bi-weekly column (and occasional feature) for my local paper, lots and lots of blog posts.
And yet, my good intentions are getting restless.
They want more.
They aren’t fooled.
They want the real deal, and so do I. I don’t just want to be a writer; I want to be a Writer. I’m deeply grateful that I’m able to make a living playing with words to create brands and content for my marketing clients, but in my heart of hearts I’ve always wanted to write a different kind of story – the kind of story that keeps readers up until late into the night because they just have to know what happens next.
That’s what I dreamed of doing when I was a kid and had all the time in the world.
A year in the life of a writer is not measured in days or seasons; it’s measured in beginnings, middles, and endings. A writer’s year is measured word by word and story by story. It’s measured in truths revealed and true lies told well.
When I look back as a writer on the past twelve months, I am happy to be able to count many small victories, but I am also keenly aware of all the good intentions still waiting in the wings. I have excuses for neglecting them – very good excuses, all very valid and believable. But, excuses won’t stop the years from slipping by like the blurred scenery outside the window of a speeding train. One of these days, that train is going to pull into the station and the ride will be over.
It’s time to pull the emergency brake.
I will not beat myself up over lost time or opportunities and neither should you. The past is the past. We can’t change it. We can only change the present. What action can you take right now – this minute – to bring your good intentions one tiny step closer to being realized? What small choice can you make to put your Important Work ahead of your busy work? What will you do to keep your promises to yourself?
Each year in the life of a writer is a good year, even the ones filled with strife and heartache and disappointment. Everything teaches us. Everything becomes raw material for the work of putting down words and shaping stories. Sometimes, the deepest tragedies can be our greatest gifts. Sometimes, our own shortcomings can be the fuel that pushes us past our fears and excuses so we can become the writer we want to be.
There is a new year on the horizon. We are rushing towards it even as we look back at the old one. It is good to take a moment to see how far we’ve come, but do not tarry too long with what was. You don’t live there anymore. You live here, right now. This is your time. What are you going to do with it?
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.