Keep That Hunger


Eleven years ago today, I got off of Route 40 in Flagstaff, took I17 south, and headed home to a place I had never lived.

One night, a few weeks later, while sitting alone in my apartment, I said to myself, “I can’t visualize my life, going forward; but also- I can’t imagine going back.”

A few days later, I met Craig.

~

A year ago, I walked out on a profession I had spent 15 years building. 

With no plan.

I sat with the uncertainty. I faced all the fears. I melted into the sadness. And then one night, I said, “I’m a writer.”

I called a grant writer I happened to know and I said- I need you to help me get to where you are.

This led to a second opportunity. This time I busted through the door for the interview, placed my hand on my heart, and said, “Writing is my art.” 

A week later she called me and said- Come back here and help us do this thing.

Late Wednesday afternoon, a VP I didn’t know looked at me during the middle of a meeting, and said, “So. I’ve heard you’re a writer.”

I swallowed the excess saliva that had overcome my mouth, sat up in my chair, and said, “Yes. What do you need done.” 

Don’t give up on your journey just because you keep falling off the train and your shoelaces are caught on the track.

Follow the trail of bread crumbs home.

How to Write Short 


How to Write Short

This is the title of a book I read recently, (by the brilliant Roy Peters), that I can’t stop thinking about. Which words to omit, and which sentences to pare down? Where to play the darling word games, and where to cut to the chase?

Can we talk about commas? Do I even have a single-handed, Vaseline-tight grip on this? How many of the punctuation rules learned in grammar school am I using correctly, and how many of them have I bent and twisted as I’ve aged?

“Just go write!” my husband says, “get out of your head!” But where is excessive, heart-aching self-expression worth it, and where does it become utter and complete self-indulgence and redundancy?

Speaking of redundancy, have I ever spelled this word with any kind of confidence? Truth be told, there are a slew of words in the English language that I write on a daily basis that I can say- I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO SPELL. “Strength.” And “length.” and “exacerbate.” (See also: redundancy).

Which brings me to the point; does this matter?

It matters to me. It doesn’t have to matter to you. You know things I don’t know. In fact, it’s one of life’s greatest serendipities that we don’t all know the same things. So it matters to me, and it may not matter to you; and that’s- beautiful, actually. It means you’re holding up some other end of the fort that I would have a leg and a clump of my hair stuck in.

I’ll keep sharpening my pencil and you keep counting the numbers, teaching the kids, painting the art, and holding the space.

 

The Momentum of Being Lost

  
I’ve been lost. Okay. Many, many times. I’ve been lost in my personal life and my professional life, and in both cases I’ve found a few fundamentals to be true. 

1). Being lost is the single most mojo-threatening yet hopeful state of existence. It promises nothing, hopes everything, and swings back and forth on the hinges of faith.

2). Settling isn’t ever the answer. Settling has a powerful draw. Arguably a logical one. But the basic tenet of fit-ness remains ; if it’s not right, you’re just killing time. And your spirit.

3). Every time I’ve thought I had it figured out, I ran the risk of being very, very wrong. Take a look at the many parallels between finding a relationship that “fits” as well as an employment opportunity that “fits.” Years ago, I sat with a couple of then colleagues (who then became some of my closest friends) and we tore open this hypothesis we’d come to that the relationship you have with your work is much the same as the relationship you have with your significant other. Is this a good fit? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Can we laugh together? Are our hearts in sync? Do we share the same vision? Can we grow old together? Or will we crash and burn, scraping ourselves off the pavement with a pervasive confusion and partly inevitable binge ice cream eating after all is said and done. 

4). I have been professionally lost. For…. well a really long year now. I’ve tried some things, always well intended; only to find that they were not my soulmate. I mean a job is a job. Right? No one likes their work. Right? Well. After a year of this mess, I’m not sure it’s that simple. 

5). This month I tried three new things, simultaneously. One crashed and burned immediately. It didn’t only just scrape away at my layers of defensiveness. It didn’t promise to teach me any sound lessons. Instead it immediately shouted THIS IS NOT FOR YOU, my dear love. Walk away. And walking away is not a class act feeling. It burns through every layer of my sense of self. But as soon as I noticed my flesh was literally ON FIRE, I grabbed a hose, cooled down my skin, and threw the papers across the room. Don’t do the thing that sets your skin on fire. You’re going for soul on fire. Not skin.

6. So, exhausted, I brushed the burning embers into the fireplace and I reached my heart out. Again. Only this time I reached out to the one opportunity that has been feeling the BEST of all of them. All along. And I said, “what more can I take off your plate this week.” And that was it.

7. And then, magic. I got a reply so full of passion, so full of love. A reply of appreciation, of trust, of gratitude. And so I put the rest of my pile down. And I turned to face this reply. And I picked it up, and I held it. And I looked at it. And I felt it. 

8. And I decided- this is the one. This one is my baby, my partner, my selection. This is the one that gets me. The one that wants to hear what I think, what I believe in, and wants to read what I write. 

9. So, to my other my friends who are lost, I tell you this. Just like not settling in finding a partner; don’t settle in finding your career. Or your next career. It’s as much about fit as anything has ever been. Life keeps rolling no matter what, but you owe it to yourself to fall in love. With your work. 

Lost is the best place to begin. Don’t be afraid. Float.