Notice how I said preoccupied with writing, not just writing, although I do now have some pages and progress under my belt.
Not too long ago, I would have beaten myself up over this by telling myself a version of a story with its roots in early elementary school.
From around the time when school went from being mostly play (doing what you want) to actual work (doing what you’re told), I developed a reputation for having a wild imagination but a tough time staying focused and completing assignments either on time or very well (often both).
It wasn’t because the assignments were particularly tough, but just didn’t hold my interest. I considered myself a free thinker unencumbered by arbitrary rules.
In third grade, I went through a phase where I no longer felt like correctly filling in the answer circles on multiple choice tests. Instead I would draw my own circle in the general ballpark — part inside the lines of my chosen answer, part out, not always completely round. Doing it my own way turned it into a game, and appeased my boredom.
When my teacher began to notice the pattern, she pulled me aside and asked me why. I told her I just felt like it. Besides, as long as the answers were still right, what’s the difference? She told me to stop because people, like her, could take it as sign I had a learning disability. She told me I didn’t want anyone getting “the wrong idea” about me after all.
I realize she meant well and don’t hold any grudge. But the collective attempts of teachers to reign in my wild imagination “for my own good,” yielded unintended results.
It hit me a few weeks ago when I saw the brilliant new Pixar movie “Inside Out.” Each time I felt my creative spirit quashed, the connection to my inner happy town grew endangered until “work can’t be fun” became a torturous new core memory cut off from my natural, creative gifts without which not much gets done.
Joy is lost.
But thankfully, not forever. Like in “Inside Out,” although the past can’t be restored, new even more vibrant lands can pop up, a process that for me has begun through writing my book. With each draft, I’m tapping deeper into my emotions until more of the real me shines throughout. Evidence of this inner work — the preoccupation — will prove time well spent in the finished bestselling product. You could say my joy of writing has returned.
What have you cut yourself off from? What can you get back in touch with? What new lands are ready for you to discover?