Monday Classroom: The angst we can heap on our pea-heads, or the joy – you are in control, right?

Sometimes I follow Good Man Roger into Ingles Supermarket as he shops for groceries (yeah, he does the grocery shopping and most the cooking because I just ain’t innerested, y’allses! Left to my own self’ses, I eat the weirdest stuff that does not require cooking, or very little of it). I wander the aisles touching things and going “Hmmmm . . . food good, like food . . .” or I’ll study the ad copy on some miracle face cream and wonder if it’ll make me look like the Tender Graces author photo my publishers airbrushed–I look like my younger cousin once removed *lawd!*

And while doing these la-tee-dah thangs, I suddenly think, “Oh, hey, hold up y’all! I just remembered! I’m a published author.” I lift up my head from bright-colored packaging and muse-i-vate, “Right this very danged ole moment, someone may be reading one of my books . . .” Oh wonderment!–and

I gots books and friends and family – lucky me!

no one even knows who I am. But what if someone does? What if that person who just walked by and looked at me and smiled as if they know me does “know” me. Lawd! Teeheehee! I’m an author and I done wrote some books and those books are out there somewhere on someone’s bedside or bookshelf, or in their Kindle or Nook or whatever, whodathunkit?

I inhale that moment with the mountain air. I swallow it down and it enters my blood and rushes through my veins and fills my marrow and I’m full full full of how wunnerful it all is. As if I can think, “My time has come at last.” Without hubris, for humility covers my head like a gentle hand staying the jittery jumping up and down in glee–yeah, that humility ain’t always humble in us, is it? But it sure will kick us upside our asses if we become too comfy in our authory skinses and think we’re all that and then some on a southern-fried stick *haw haw.* Dang. I wanna be all that and then some on a southern-fried stick, at least a little. Right? Riiighhht. For without goals, what are we? Goal-less I guess – teehee. But I need me some goals. Something to work for, and that something is You and You and You reading me me me. Right? Isn’t that what you all writers out there want? Besides some Pride in our accomplishments? Maybe a best-seller list. And an award–ohh, yeah, a big fat ole award telling us how brilliant we are! Oh, yeah, and our ever-present humility, too – haw!

Yup, there are those moments of such clarity, those that stop me short in the peanut butter and jelly aisle. Those moments where I feel gratitude, and a surreal fascination with the entire process of writing and books and language and publishing. And how I am a part of all that even if in a small way in the Big Fat Ass Scheme of Thangs.

Aw lawd, what if what if what if what if – I’m trapped in What If Land!

Then, lawd he’p me, there are the moments of terror. The expectations I heap upon my ole pea-head until it’s heavy and I have to go lie down and pull some covers over my weighted-with-angsty-lawdyness head. I lie in my bed and the anxiety curls itself around my innards. “What if this very

lawdy! gots my pea-head all tied up in knots!

moment someone is reading my book and thinks, ‘This isn’t very good. I think I’ll put it down and read something else . . .’” Oh horrors! “What if I don’t sell many books and my publishers and family and friends think I’m a failure?” Ungh  ungh! “What if the next book isn’t as good as the last? And was the last good enough?” Shivers on me timbers! “What if I let everyone down?” Oh Chicken Little, be quiet! The sky is not falling to bang you upside your head, lessen you pull it down your head. Right? Riiiighhhht.

There is such contradiction in this process of having your dream come true. For me, the original dream was to see my Virginia Kate novel published and to know she is being read and enjoyed by someone somewhere. I accomplished that. Everything else should be lagniappe (that’s a South Loooseeeaner term for “just a little something more.”) But when those little voices creep up and tell us how we need to do more, and more, and even more, and ever ever ever MORE MORE MORE MORE, this is when the joy of the language, the characters, the readers, the accomplishment of writing and publishing a novel is not enough and we think we have to have/do/be it all– and most of us can’t have/do/be it all. There’s always going to be Something More unless we find a way to put all this in some perspective, stop and take a breath, and then decide what our ultimate Goal is and how we will get there and if we do not get there will we be happy with what we DO have.

Welp, guess what? We really are in control of what we want to heap on our wittle pea-headed selves–much more than we give our selfses credit for. We can heap and heap, or we can not heap and heap.

Relax, relax, relax and enjoy life sometime . . .

I know I like me better when I’m walking through the grocery store and suddenly stop and that beautiful realization pops me upside my head that I actually did it. I wrote a novel and that novel is published and then I wrote three more of them and they were published, and any one of them could be, right at this moment, read and enjoyed by someone out there somewhere. Sometimes that is enough. Those Dang! Whoop! I did it! moments of tasting our accomplishments–rolling those accomplishments on our tongue. Sometimes, it is enough. Sometimes. Sommmmeeetimmmmmessssss it is enough *sigh*

My challenge to all of you is to stop where you are at this moment in your life, savor who and where you are—hold close to you the Right Now moment, before you move on to MORE MORE MORE. Then, when you move on to More, maybe it’ll have a Name and  Goal instead of “I have to have/be/do it ALL!”

squirrels ain’t stressing

Right now. Right here at this moment, a mountain breeze flies down from the ridge and brushes against my face, a bird’s bright eye watches me, a chipmunk fills its cheeks with seed, the red squirrels are fussing, the creek sings its journey song to the bold creek to the river to the ocean, the sun tips greened trees, and I feel a connection to every creature, every living being—through words and thought and life. I will soon begin my day’s work and it is good. It is good. Right now, it is good.

Thank all y’allses for reading: Now . . . what is your right now, right here moment?

And what is your Ultimate Goal?

Advertisements

15 thoughts on “Monday Classroom: The angst we can heap on our pea-heads, or the joy – you are in control, right?

  1. Ah, you’ve reminded me. I wrote a similar guest post last fall, and titled it Already There. I’d been making my pea-head spin by loading myself down with expectations and comparison to others, etc, etc. In the post I told myself and everyone who read it that I was going to be gentler with myself, and to realize how much richer my life is for having written the four manuscripts, and how I was going to do my best and surrender the outcome. I was just going to enjoy this writerly journey. Now, just a few short seasons later, and I’m right back there, worrying and fretting over an outcome I can’t control. My pea-head was spinning again, and I was so dizzy I didn’t even realize it.

    Thanks for the reminder. It’s a gorgeous day in May–not too hot, blue skies. Already been to the beach for a walk today, and will go again tonight with my lovely bride. All I can do is the best I can do on this rewrite to make it be both the book of my heart and one someone else might enjoy, surrender the outcome, and enjoy my evening walk in early summer weather with still hardly anyone here for the season.

    That’s a pretty darn good here and now moment. I’m a lucky guy, in no small part for having great writerly friends like you in my life. :-)

    • I do what you do, Vaughn – go for a walk in my cove or go hiking in the forests of WNC – but, once home, I still have to be careful of those “voices” —

      It can be a tough business – the things you think you want are never enough – so what is ‘enough’ we should ask ourselves, in reality . . . ?

      Glad you came by, my friend!

  2. I took a few moments to thank myself for who I am. And to thank God for my family and how they make me laugh and feel good. If a person puts down any of your books, they are a pea-head. Or a squirrel.

    • *laughing* Thank you, Karen.

      I am so behind on my blog-walking — need to have my “Karen’s Blog” fix soon!

      Usually people think of summer as “vacation time” but it is oft-times my busiest . . . lawd!

  3. Oh boy. Like Vaughn, I get caught up in the expectations and comparing myself to others. Right here, right now for me is time, all morning, to crank out words on my first draft. I am learning, ever-so-slowly, how to relax through this early process of novel writing, knowing that it will get done. Sometimes I kick myself for not writing through the weekend, but then if I did, I would have missed all that sunshine we had, the garden planting, badminton with my boy, snuggling with my girl, living.

    Thanks for this post, Kathryn!

    • We MUST have those weekends! Especially when there are children involved -really, the children should come first. We writers can fixate on “us” and the books and characters, but really, our children and grandchildren need our attention and love and time – so I think you did well!

  4. I remember when you first started your blog and you were writing your first novel. Then you sent it out for a long time and finally got it published. Your dream was to buy your mountain. I am reading you book right now, at night before I go to bed. I love it. I savor it. You write wonderful. So when you say probably someone is reading you book, I am. I hope you buy your mountain someday.

  5. This post has ME, ME, ME written all over it and I’m loving [and hugely comforted] by the reminder that, yep, while it’s a joy to have our books in the hands of readers at long last, it’s isn’t always-every minute-all the time-joy. There are plenty of those angsty gnawing torturous moments when doubt and worry attempt to climb upon our comfy cloud, and the best thing is to see them for what they are and respond with a swift kick back into the abyss..

    And a BIG ditto with Connie T! I am right now savoring Family Graces and just loving it. Life has been largely crazy these past weeks with moving three daughters to three differing locations. But at the end of every insane-to-the-eyeballs-day I have the joyful anticipation of knowing that your book is patiently waiting. I’m trying so hard to slow down and savor every beautifully crafted sentence when my brain wants to sprint ahead into the unfolding mysteries of these beloved characters. Your writing is simply delicious, Kat, as are those well deserved moments in the Peanut Butter & Jelly aisle!

    • Thank you, Barbara – you know how much I loved your work, so this coming from you is making that smile of mine spread – oh oh – humility! humility! *laughing!* :-D haw! :-D

      But seriously – thank you . . .

  6. My right here, right now moment is thanking you for reminding me to is to savor reaching my first goal.

    My ultimate goal? To write the novel I know I’m capable of.

    Bless you, Kat. :-)

  7. This post I needed to read. Just this week I found a publisher for my very first novel, and even though I’ve worked hard, written eight novels and dozens of stories, sent out dozens of queries, even made a Halloween costume out of my rejection letters…even so, now that I’ve achieved this big-was-never-going-to-happen goal, I am flooded with holy-crap-what-was-I-thinking-this-is-going-to-be-a-nightmare-my-friends-are-actually-going-to-read-what-I-wrote-I-shall-go-crazy thoughts. (Okay, I bet that many friend won’t really read it–but that thought isn’t helping either.)

    But there are those happy I-wrote-a-novel moments…they are divine. If fleeting.

    • Oh, I understand those moments, boy do I?

      So, take those moments to stop and breathe and remember what you have accomplished. Enjoy all the little moments — yes, the “big” ones, too, but those little moments add up and mean much!

Comments are closed.