Some are born behind – like my Husband. As the last of nine kids with twenty-five plus years from the oldest and him eight years younger than the former baby of the family, he has spent much of his life just trying to catch up. He started looking for his wife in Kindergarten. By the time we tied up together and got married, most of his siblings had five or more kids. Now they all have atleast six (except one who opted out of family) and one sibling has ten kids. Not to mention job, homes etc. He’s been better about it but it’s a hard habit to battle.
Then you have people like me. I was so far out of step from people around me that I didn’t even see the point. I am a middle child of a much smaller family and felt no rush, not to drive, date, get a job or even graduate from college after nearly five years of attending. I managed a generic associates and was just too busy exploring classes and majors. My personality type tends to value the process far more than the completion and I was rarely provoked to competition. So I’m usually content to simply be “making progress” in my own, unmeasurable way. It drives my Husband nuts.
Then I befriended a bunch of writers. It’s nothing like fellow students in a college writing class where you see a couple short stories perfected across a semester and never hear from the person again who may or may not ever draft another word (or revise one) after leaving the class. You just didn’t usually have announcements like “I finished my novel!” or “I’m almost done with the sequel,” or “So what publishers are you submitting to?” let alone “My book is being published!”. I certainly didn’t hear those things. Someone might get a short story published…most often in the school magazine.
Now, I networking with the survivors – the die-hards who are set on doing whatever it takes to get their books published and who simply can’t give up writing. And out here, those sort of successes happen often… To someone. They come from all different age groups, walks of life, health situations. Some got hooked on writing when they were older, but most seem to start young, like I did.
At first, it wasn’t that bad. I was a novice in the professional arena and I knew it. It wasn’t until after I got married that I started meeting these people really, that I started looking for them and connecting. Five years ago I thought I was close to publication. I had a cleaned up manuscript in Forger and started submitting. Then I shelved it and started over. I think that’s when I really started feeling behind.
I watched and cheered fellow writers as they seemed to grasp success or move to the “next level”. Human nature nagged me about my blind wanderings and whenever I voiced them, those writers assured me that it was only a matter of time.
However, as a homeschooling Mother of four, life is pretty busy. Between morning sickness and feeling too sick to write anything of value and trying to keep up with the un-ending housework, progress often seemed to crawl. I confess that there are moments when the thought of sending my kids to public school and “finally getting something done” is really tempting. But I know that this choice is inspired for me and my family so I will stick with it.
The last few months have been the worst. I’ve invested unusual amounts of time to art and yet I’m still not done and have a deadline looming. I have a short story that I really should revise and resubmit … Surely then it will find a home. Plus if I could just manage the submission package – blurb, synopsis etc for Hall I want to submit it to another publisher before I lose the nerve.
“What? You mean you don’t have that stuff for Hall?”
Well, technically, I do… but I’m currently displeased with my former versions and determined that I must do better. Meanwhile I’m too stressed out about it and about hate every new attempt, too.
And so in the end, really the only actual writing I’ve been doing has been the Renegade Project. True, that forces me to write some every week… but it won’t get Hall published or finish these other half-done projects. I’m not working on a novel, unless you count outlining, and it’s really making me edgy.
Meanwhile, I see such progress among others and feel so left behind. Part of me is just itching to dive into the sequel to Hall, but yet if I’m just avoiding the other projects I do myself no favor. I’m excited about the story and ideas, but yet my Husband has appreciated more of my focus on “real life”. To him, “I’m thinking about starting another book” is a legit threat – and I can’t blame him.
In “rational moments” I know better. The logical path proclaims itself as focus and close out the “easy wins”. This emotional conflict is the sort of stuff that I help my Husband work out all the time. It’s an illusion and my progress has nothing to do with others … but yet here I sit.
I guess that’s why FlyLady puts it on the end of every e-mail, “You’re not behind. Jump in where you are.” Even when I should know better, it’s important for me to hear. Some times, that is the biggest thing I get from her. And there are hundreds of motivational and inspiring people that repeat similar assurance. Repetition is vital for us humans. Don’t believe me, look at the Bible. That thing would be a whole lot shorter if God could trust us to get it the first time.
So what of you? What makes you feel behind? And what do you do about it? Or do you just ignore it and press on?