I have discovered that over the years I have developed patience. I can sit for the required amount of time to unknot a chain on a necklace or go line-by-line through a story, essay or novel chapter to provide the needed commas, semicolons, dashes or periods. I am also capable of sorting through a drawer and separating out the safety pins from the paper clips. Who knew I would ever need that skill?
I believe that my writing has taught me patience, not just in the actual time it takes to produce and edit a piece, but also in the plans for publication – or not – of that work. The truth is that time has taught me not to always expect that something I consider exceptional will be the right fit for those who have the power to publish and with that knowledge comes a shift in expectation. I no longer expect to publish a novel or essay or short story that will make me famous; I only expect to continue to write to the best of my ability and hope that someone somewhere enjoys the end product. Ah, but this could be perceived as resignation, yes?
I supposed it is true that I have resigned myself to the improbability that my work will suddenly catapult my name to the top of the writing world and I will become one of those few famous writers. Of course, I still nurse a secret hope deep-down that I will produce something so real, true and exceptional that I will find myself unexpectedly rewarded for my efforts. So, I wouldn’t call that total resignation.
I suppose instead I would describe my current state of mind as a shift away from product and toward process. After all, when I unknot a twisted necklace, I don’t expect to suddenly be the star of a reality show called “The Greatest Unknotters,” or when I spend two hours line-editing someone else’s piece of fiction or nonfiction, I don’t presume that I will be featured in next month’s edition of “World’s Best Editors.” I simply do what needs to be done by focusing on the task at hand. I am not looking for fame or fortune or even recognition. I simply see that the safety pins have somehow gotten mixed up the paper clips and I tease them out of the clump, one by one.
That is my relationship with my writing at present. I simply see that something needs to be written and I sit down and do my job. No big fanfare announcing my beginning, middle or end. Just me and either my computer or pen and paper coupled with an idea for a story or an essay.
Patience is a great asset in life. It keeps the demons of restlessness at bay and instead nurtures staying in the here and now with no expectation for the future. Well, maybe a little expectation. That the necklace will unknot; the fiction/nonfiction will read better; the safety pins and paper clips will be separated; and that stories and essays will be written, not necessarily perfectly, but well enough to produce a satisfied sigh.