I suppose that most of us have goals. My goals as a writer tend to be mnemonic: I will finish the novel. I will publish another poetry chapbook. I will submit my work to literary magazines more frequently. Perhaps some of you share the same or a similar mantra.
Often, I will be in the second half of the year, however, before I realize that I have interrupted myself so frequently with a lapse of discipline, or my “real” life as a wife and mother, or, yes, even my own creative spirit (I can get enthusiastic about so many different projects and collaborations!), that I have not taken all the necessary steps to ensure that my writing goals will be met by a time certain. It is not that I am failing to accomplish things. I am just not always accomplishing those things I set out to accomplish.
Having deadlines set by others is usually a blessing, even if it is sometimes nerve-wracking. Having no deadlines works fine too … depending on what day it is. I learned long ago, however, that our lives and our work must follow a certain road in order to fulfill … what? Our purpose? I prefer “our potential,” I think. Or, perhaps, “our promise.” Sometimes the road seems crazy, with many curves and turns, and very few straightaways; however, the road is always … instructive. Do not misunderstand me, though – this isn’t another expression of the “it is the journey, not the destination” proverb. Far from it! The destination is part of the journey. It is the journey’s raison d’etre, for heaven’s sakes! It is the impetus, the inspiration, the drive. Of course, the destination is touched and shaped and often greatly altered by the journey. The two, however, are inseparable.
Yes, our road may be crazy, but as long as we are on the road headed toward our particular calling, we will get there eventually, even if the destination does not look quite as we had imagined. How do we know if we are on the right road? It is both simple and powerfully mysterious: participate. Do the work.
It is a new year. There is talk of change and hope and promise everywhere. Participate.