The following is a recap of my writing ups and downs from this year and the current status of where my writing is headed. It is a private reflection made public.
2013 Writing Goals
I started off the year 2013 by writing a lot. I was motivated by my own ambitious writing goals and set to work. For the first half of the year, I did a great job with my writing, patting myself on the back a few hundred times. An unfortunate side effect of so much work, though, has been an increased number of headaches and fatigue. Being sick and sluggish all the time meant it was time for a change. I decided to take time off to reprioritize my projects and create a better work-life balance.
The last three months have seen far fewer blog posts from me than I set out to achieve which means, technically, I’ve already failed in my 2013 writing goals. However, is it necessarily a bad thing to miss the mark on a set of goals that we produce for ourselves? And it also begs the question: Why create goals in the first place only to let them fall without some sort of accountability? Answering those questions depends a lot on the personality of the person who creates the goals in the first place.
So I looked to myself and started really pondering what I want to achieve out of life and visualizing the rest of my year. I have also been thinking a lot about the current state of my personal affairs. I suppose I could have thrown myself a pity party and renewed the contract on unhappiness indefinitely, but that would only set me up on a perpetual cycle of failures. Why do that to myself if I have the power to change my mood and the course of my life?
It is easy for us to feel down on ourselves for not achieving everything we set out to accomplish. It’s much harder to give ourselves a break and come to accept that life is not always as smooth and error-proof as we’d like it to be. Goals don’t usually include line-items for mistakes. Goals also don’t depend on peoples’ lack of support or friendship, even though we think they may be integrally connected somehow. In short, goals are personal to us and only we can decide what is best for us. Only we can determine how to get to the pinnacle of what our hearts tell us to do.
Amanda Socci’s Goal? To Have Success in Writing
For the last three years, my pinnacle has been “success in writing.” Note I didn’t just say “writing,” because I’ve already achieved that many times over. How exactly do I achieve success in something to which I don’t dedicate enough time? Easy, by spending more time doing that which will bring me happiness.
I had been on a special rollercoaster of emotion for most of my life, whizzing by the billboards of writing success and envying the super-skinny models and their sexy jeans as they advertised how easy and fun and delicious it was to write, get published, and get paid for it. (All metaphors, of course…) I voluntarily denied myself the pleasure of writing success until fairly recently, when I experienced one major problem that threw me head-on into a bull-pit of angels that were fitting me with halos and gowns and prepping me to become an expert on a topic that really surprised me – - faith.
After that major life event, I set out to write. And write I did! I was so happy to write consistently by blogging frequently and turning up the stove to high on my social media efforts. But where was my family in the middle of my quest to writing success? Were they relegated to endless hours of television watching and fending to themselves because their career-hungry mother was too busy to be a mom?
The Work-Life Balance Leads to Refinement in Writing Goals
Quandary, I know. Have kids and send them off to daycare and make a cool $80k a year with a rich lifestyle means the kids get no personal attention. On the other hand, have kids, deny yourself the career you want and the kids still get no personal attention because the mind is constantly immersed in what-would-have-been.
For me, it has not been as clear-cut as those two extreme examples. Just like everything else in my life, my quest for writing success as balanced with my motherhood priorities is a hybrid. As much as C. Hope Clark keeps telling me to “just write!” my current lifestyle doesn’t permit me to be so black-and-white with my decisions.
I can’t say with a straight face that I devote 10% of each waking day to develop myself professionally as a writer while happily tending to my struggling husband, happy flock, and domestic chores the rest of the time. No life is so perfect as to be neatly compartmentalized into exact timeframes. Kids get sick. Husbands need to be transported to work in a one-car household. Kids need to have fun. Someone has to do daily chores. Someone has to read the mail and respond to it!
I can’t start complaining about my life, though, because that would make me an ungrateful tool. If there is one thing that my current financial status has taught me is to be grateful for every single thing I have, no matter how small. God has taken me back to the starting line so many times, that I’ve come to accept any setbacks in writing with grace, humility, and a deep faith. I have faith that God will restore me to my writing desires and help me finish my writing projects when he feels the time is right.
The timetable of my life tells me that when my youngest starts kindergarten, I can probably devote my attention full-time to doing what my heart has yearned for so many years. But then, at the same time, the irony of more writing time is that the sweetness of the firsts in language development of my 28 month-old will be long gone. The solution? To savor each innocent moment of seeing my daughters blossom before me and tempering them carefully and more precisely with a concentrated devotion to writing.