Mind Over Psyche.
Every now and then, we have Tabata week at the gym I attend. If you don’t know Tabata, think of it as being in labor: 20 seconds of hard pushing and pain, followed by ten seconds of rest. Of course, drugs are discouraged and your trainer might not appreciate it if you snarl, “This is your fault!” but it only lasts an hour, and then you’re done until the next day. Sometimes, I enjoy going to the gym, but it had been a crazy week, anyway, and my motivation was low, even less so for Tabata, but I went.
Why? Even though I didn’t look forward to going, I enjoyed having gone.
That’s how it goes with writing sometimes. There are plenty of times when I don’t feel like writing. Sometimes, other things in life seem much more important, whether planning a surprise for my husband’s retirement or doing dishes. Sometimes, it’s looking at my Amazon sales and realizing that, should something horrible happen to Rob, I would not be able to support my family on my writing. Rarely, but on occasion, a bad review or comment from someone will make me wonder why I bother.
But why I bother in those moments is the same reason I bother to go to the gym: Even if I don’t want to write, I invariably enjoy having written.
There’s a definite satisfaction in a scene well crafted, a character who comes alive on the keyboard, or a sentence that makes your eyes sting with its poignancy. (Just wrote one of those today, in fact.) There’s getting that message out of the blue from a reader saying they loved my book, or from an editor asking when the next story is coming. There’s that hope that this story, this novel, will be the one to break through—but of course, that will never happen if I don’t write it. I know, too, that I’m in this for the long term. I love writing. I love having written, and I love going back over my own stories and marveling anew at the adventures I lived without ever leaving my chair.
After eight months at the gym, including four or five weeks of Tabata, I’ve lost 25 pounds. That puts me at just under 145. One of the ladies asked me what my ultimate goal was. I suppose I could go for 120 or 125, which is what my weight from my teens to my early thirties, but I realize that it doesn’t matter as much to me, any longer. Maybe I’ll get there, but if I can stay around 140 and keep going with my exercising, then I’m satisfied.
You know, I have to keep that same attitude with my writing. Someday, I may make the NYT best-seller list. I may find my Amazon sales grow enough to let my husband quit his day job. But if that never happens, then if I can keep writing and producing and find readers who love my work, then I’m satisfied. Even when my motivation is low, and things around me discourage me from my craft, I keep pounding away at those words, the same way I pound away at the weights (minus the labor-like groaning, of course.)
After all, the real satisfaction is in having written.