In the introductory class of one of my new courses the lecturer spoke of reading widely in these terms:
‘Reading widely is like walking along the beach in the sun. You get a sun tan slowly even though you don’t realize it is happening.’
As my skin complexion is way deeper than tan under normal circumstances I’ve edited it to suit my preferences. Thus, ‘You get sun espressoed even though you don’t realize it is happening.’
The people who know me best will tell you that I put immense pressure on myself. I blogged a couple years ago about the way I tend to feel like all my writing opportunity is slipping through my fingers and very soon there will be none left. I know it is silly but everyone has those little, irrational fears that seem to persist despite logic.
I currently write around 14 000 words per week on my current projects. I’ve been beating myself up about it because I know I’m fully capable of writing over 20 000 words per week. I guess you can imagine how annoyed I was with myself when I realized I was going to have to cut my word count from 14 000 per week to 10 000 because I also need to edit the first piece I’ve finished and I’ve said: ‘This is the one I need to publish.’ I wish I could just add in an extra hour per day for editing but I can’t. I still need to focus on my LLM and so that extra hour needed to come from currently slated writing time.
Every day I’d meet my 1500 word count goal and be vaguely ticked off with myself that I wasn’t writing 3000 or 4000. This has been going on for a couple weeks and in all of the anxiety and pressure I’ve managed to convince myself that I was at a standstill in my writing.
Then, something amazing happened.
About fours weeks ago I stumbled across an Amaryllis bulb in Tesco. I impulsively (especially because I was so broke) spent 5 GBD to purchase it. My name, Rilys, is derived from the flower and so the idea of growing an Amaryllis from the bulb was symbolic for me. According to the instructions, the flower was expected to bloom in 8 – 12 weeks. I thought I’d use the weeks to work on myself as well and fix some of the things in my life needing fixing. For the past week I’ve been looking at the plant thinking ‘Have I managed to kill my symbolic self? This thing looks the same way it did when I bought it.’
This morning, in frustration and slight panic, I pulled up the photo I’d first taken of the bulb and compared it with the plant in front of me. It was only then that I realized the flower was growing slowly, but steadily, all this time. I was so impatient for results that I missed its steady progress.
In an instant I realized I was doing the same thing with my writing and to a smaller extent my life. I know many people do this do. It’s the real reason many people fail to achieve what they set out to. Not because of lack of talent or capability but because we give up. We often believe that slow progress isn’t actually progress. And, if we can’t see the progress it isn’t happening. Sometimes it’s necessary to let go of the panic and the pressure and trust that you are being sun espressoed even if it is happening slowly. Sometimes we’re blooming even though we can’t see it. Remember this whenever you feel like throwing in the towel: you’re doing better than you think!
So today I promise to let go of it all and have faith in the fact that as long as I work at this consistently and steadily I’m one step closer. It’s not a sprint. It’s the life I chose.