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Living in Between

· Writing,Advice

One of the most maddening things about the writing process is how much of it is spent at points in between. In between where you started and where you wanted to be. In between finishing and knowing whether your work will ever launch or see print. In between submitting a draft and receiving feedback.  

I have said before that writing is a bold, stupid, reckless, hopeful journey, and I think it's one reason why it's so easy for writers to fall into despair. It often seems like hope is a glass ball you are trying to keep aloft. Drop it and it shatters, letting loose all the demons of self-doubt, the terrible lie that tomorrow will be no better than today. 

The work is often the salvation. You might not be there yet, but you can work on getting there. But what about when even that is out of your hands and all that's left is the waiting and hoping? Waiting for stakeholders to greenlight a project. Waiting for beta readers to reply with feedback? 

It can be all too easy to live for those moments of arrival, those discrete times when everything becomes clarion. The game will ship or it will not; the story needs revisions or it does not; the draft is finally finished--now, on to the next. As if each of those moments isn't all too transitory, all too ephemeral; here and gone again in the blink of an eye. If you're lucky, you can save up some part of each of those moments, and with enough of them, perhaps, you can construct a vessel that can keep you afloat during those times when the ocean between seems limitless.

But so much of this craft, this life even, is not about arriving, but about being underway. Yes, it's a cliche to say "enjoy the journey" but it's all too easy to become trapped in a pattern of thinking "I'm just waiting for X." And then X comes and goes and all that's left is the waiting. And the hoping. Over and over again. 

So how do we do it? How do we make peace when we're adrift, unsure of when or whether we'll arrive at our destination? How do we not let the ball of hope shatter, let the demons run free?

I have no easy answers, but I think the secret must lie in looking back at all of the arrivals that have come before, at the journey(s) to get there, retracing their paths, seeing the swerves and dead-ends and U-turns made along the way. Tomorrow will not be the same as today; but today is already not the same as yesterday. And that might just be enough.

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