Monday, January 7, 2013

Baby Steps Still Propel You Forward

I can be an impatient person. I see an end goal, a final project, and all I want is to have it DONE. Although I have the ability to also foresee the many, many steps involved in getting to the end of something, it is often hard for me to calmly take each step, knowing that eventually what I want will materialize before me, not with a *POOF* as if out of nowhere, but instead out of the many small steps I have taken in the right direction.

This has been especially hard for me lately. I am planning a move, and the move requires many small steps that will eventually leave me in the new place where I desire to be. In turn, moving will give me some time and space to focus, which will then lead to more time to write, something I want so badly it leaves a lump in my throat.

I have been craving time to write for years. This craving is what led me to quit my job in Bellevue – it led me to make a decision to divert part of each paycheck into a savings account that I never touched; to stay at the job in Bellevue for a year, wanting to tear my hair out, as my baby steps eventually led to the day that I turned in my resignation and walked out with the money to start again.
I learned about publishing in baby steps: how the industry worked, the advantages of self-publishing, the slowly changing behemoth of traditional publishing, and the joy of learning of other like-minded individuals who want to breathe life into their words and share that life with others.

I wrote my cookbooks in baby steps. Talk to wineries and restaurants; create recipe templates, call, email and cajole contributors, make appointments to take pictures, test recipes one at a time, lay out pages, edit, edit, EDIT, print, sell, one Facebook post, one local retailer, one Amazon sale, one new friend at a time.

I have grown confident of my writing in baby steps. Regardless of how long I have called myself a writer, it has only been recently that I have started sending out essays to publications, no longer afraid of their rejection. Suddenly I realize that I have something important to say and all I need is to find the right place to say it. This is not to say that I will not continue to improve, but only through writing for the past four years have I finally gotten to the point where I can realize that I am actually a writer in a way that feels real and visceral.

I have found my way here through baby steps. I feel a book trying to emerge, and I want it to come out in one fell swoop, leaping out of my brow much like Athena leaped, fully formed and ready to fight, out of Zeus’ forehead. The task seems overwhelming. It seems like I will never finish, because it is so hard to start; because the baby steps seem so infinitely small.

More than a year ago, two writing friends and I decided to do the Artist’s Way. It is a 12-week program to help people rediscover their creativity, in whatever way, shape and form it may take. One of the essential parts of the course is the morning pages: first thing in the morning, you take a pen and a notebook and write. At first, I got up an hour early to do this. At first, I wrote the three pages suggested, but then I realized that I was taking on more than I could handle. I cut it down to a page, got up a half hour early, and found it was the most joyful part of my day. Fifteen months later, I look forward to waking up, making coffee and settling in with a cup in one hand and a pen in the other, a notebook resting on my lap. More often than not, I fill two or three pages before I realize what I’ve done. I have filled more than 500 pages – front and back – with my scrawling handwriting. 

I am impatient, and yet the mountains I have moved the farthest are the ones that I pushed a little at a time. Although the ones ahead seem daunting, all I have to do is look behind me to see how far I’ve already come, one baby step at a time.

Love and baby step kisses