This year has been one of major introspection for me. A year where God has placed it on my heart to ponder what I love to do, why I love to do it, and why I have so many hangups about actually doing it. My life has been taken up with writing, and writing all sorts of things: films, blogs, novels, etc. I'll admit that my relationship with writing has shifted, swinging dramatically back and forth between love and hate, a pendulum of impatience with the process. Writing aside, this same pendulum swings in other areas of my life, all seeming to focus on my desire to just get there already! Wherever there is.
I wish I could just slide a book off of the shelf, and have it be mine. My name, a pirouette of cursive along the cover and spine. A gloriously delicate photograph smooth under my fingertips. The book, a comforting weight in my hands. If I have that, at least I can say I accomplished something. However, over the years, I've realized that a lot of my challenge with most things has to do with impatience. Always wishing I were at a different stage. Always trying to keep up with the masses, or being dragged down by the voice in my head taunting that I'm a late bloomer.
A few weeks ago, whilst fully immersed in the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom publicity coverage, I watched an Unscripted interview with Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chris asks Bryce if there is anything she loves more than movies. Knowing somewhat of her background, Bryce's love of film runs as deeply as an old oak tree, what with her father being Ron Howard. Of course she would love it, having experienced it from the ground up at such a young age. However, her answer to Chris (quoted above) was surprising and enlightening to me. Before now, it seemed to me that so much of an artists' delight lies in being able to see the finished product come to life. Sure, you hear teachers and masters in the field say, "Get into this because you love the work," but, up until now, much of my love for the work was so connected to the finished product. You get to say 'you're a writer' once you've been published (finished product). You get to call yourself a filmmaker once your film has been accepted to Sundance (finished product). You're a novelist once you're giving a talk on your book at Barnes & Noble (finished product). Until then, you're just an amateur fiddling around until something glorious happens. All of these thoughts have buffeted my mind for years, and after a while, I was so stuck on them, and opinions, and wanting to get there, that I stopped thinking about the process. The pure milk and honey fundamentals of loving what I am doing.
Now, more than ever, I've been really gleaning from artists who inspire me, specifically taking in their reasons for what drives them towards the work. One of the many epiphanies I've had is that you cannot love any kind of work mainly for the finished product, or for the instant gratification of an audience heaping praise on your work. I think every person in a work that gives to someone else, hopes that someone will love it in the same way that others' work has inspired you. But I think I can see now, that if you're only doing what you're doing for the end result, the feeling it leaves is kind of empty. It seems that the emotional weight of your end result are the victories, hurtles, and small delights you experienced to get there. Your 'why' can't be so connected to the result that it has the power to influence whether you continue on with it. It's like dating to get married. Sure, we pursue someone to get to know them in the hopes that one day it will bloom into something significant. But if your eyes are so firmly placed on marriage, you miss those soft and slow moments of getting to know them. Of aisle roaming at Target on a Saturday afternoon. Yelling at at the television screen when the Seahawks beat the Giants 20 to 10. Heavier growing moments when you experience their hardships. That one argument you had about nothing.
There are so many things you miss by wanting to get there already.
I want to cultivate love for the experience. For the slow moments in life. For the process of writing. From the outline, to jumping off of the cliff into the work, to brainstorming sessions with writing buddies, to going back in with your sculpting knife and finding just the right word for that scene. There are so many things about writing to love, even that it can seem like wearing your Mickey Mouse pajamas in front of everyone at school. It's part of the work. It's part of living a wildly candid life.