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Overly ambitious, yet again August 18, 2010

Posted by Christine Coleman in Goals, Writing.
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shoot for the moonSo my plan to write a new draft of “Summer of ‘94” this month has not panned out. Why I set this goal anyway, I’m not really sure – why can’t I be content with the baseball blogging I’m doing and leave it at that? Actually, I do know the answer: my ultimate goal is to be a novelist. Writing about the 2010 Cardinals isn’t advancing me toward that goal, although it is keeping me writing regularly (which is something I was not doing when I started this blog in March). So why can’t I just say “OK, I’m going to start over with this novel” and then write when I can? Why did I think trying to writing a novel draft within a month was the only way to go?

My friend Linda will nod her head in agreement at this: the goals I set tend to be a little high, and this is a perfect example. We’ve had an interesting discussion this week via phone and e-mail about goals, which led to discussing what is “enough.” Why can’t we be content that the strides we are making and the things we are doing are enough? As I said to her in an e-mail, “Doesn’t it sometimes seem like we live our lives based on what THEY expect of us – even if we don’t know who THEY are?” Her response: “Yeah, I don’t know why we never feel we’re enough.”

We’re both reading the book “The Happiness Project” right now for our book group meeting later this month, and it’s been thought provoking. Gretchen Rubin, the author, realized that life was passing by quickly and she wasn’t focusing enough on the things that mattered to her, so she decided to devote a year to learning about happiness and improving her life in specific ways. She developed her “12 commandments” to guide her through the year and the first was “Be Gretchen.” Of the 12, it definitely struck me the most and made me realize that’s what I need to do: be Chris. Which starts with recognizing that I am overly ambitious, but I need to be realistic as well. There are only 24 hours in a day (and I really do need to use more of them than I do for sleep!) And I also realize that watching the Cardinals, frustrating as this team can be, is definitely a priority for me as well.

What does this mean for my fiction writing right now? That I will write when I can. My full-time job is perpetually hectic. The intensity of the Cardinals season is increasing with about six-and-a-half weeks left. I’m back to exercising regularly after a hip injury (which I never wrote about here) and want to start running again, with more realistic goals this time. (No more 10Ks or beyond!) But I do still get up very early in the morning, and want to devote that time when I can to something productive toward my fiction writing.

So, yes, my ultimate goal is still to be a novelist. Time is passing by so quickly – my recent birthday reminded me of that. But maybe with age is also the wisdom that it’s okay to have high ambitions, but I also need to be realistic about the results.

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Comments»

1. Joni B. - August 18, 2010

This strikes a lot of chords with me, Chris. I can relate. Don’t knock yourself too bad for ambitious intentions. No matter the frustrations that may accompany them, I’ll take Optimism and Idealism over Realism any time. Like I told somebody just last week, if I can’t maintain dreams and aspirations and beliefs that I will one day do and accomplish things I feel I’ve been chosen to do and accomplish, then you may as well dig a hole in your back yard and bury me right now.

I love that you hold on to your Ultimate Goal. Keep your pen moving and your fingers hovering over a keyboard. Enjoy your blogging — you’re writing, you’re exercising wordsmithing and creativity. Just write. It’s all practice and it’s all positive. Some novel of yours is stewing inside somewhere. When the time’s right, you’ll write it. I know I’m like a broken record, but I can’t help but wonder if the reason you’re unable to go back and re-write “Summer of ’94” is because you’re not supposed to. There’s such history there and such opportunity waiting out ahead of you. I can’t help but wonder what might happen if you take your intentions and aspirations and start fresh on something else. Could that get you where you want to go?

One final thought: you’re already a novelist, my friend. So what if you’re not published. You’ve already written a novel. What’s stopping you from writing another one?

Christine Coleman - August 20, 2010

Thank you, thank you for your thoughts! Yes, definitely a novelist (actually written two different complete ones, not counting all the versions of “Summer,” plus 100+ pages of two others), so I should clarify that I’m not a published one yet.

Your positive boost definitely helps. Looking forward to seeing you soon!

2. linda - August 23, 2010

just catching up with stuff after being out of town – yet again I am struck by how well you put into words the complexities we feel.

So, I suppose I should take a note from your page and be content to be Linda, whoever that is. Dang, it shouldn’t be this hard. 🙂

3. It’s almost November … « Christine Coleman - October 28, 2010

[…] about on this blog many times (and the novel I planned to rewrite again a few months ago, but then didn’t). Creating a new draft of an old project relieved some of the month’s angst – like […]


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