This Fabulous woman is the incomparable Jamie Raintree. She is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, A multiple participant and winner of Nanowrimo, and a published author. She taught a class this past Saturday entitled Your Most Productive Writing Year, on behalf of RMFW at the Blair-Caldwell African-American Research Library in Denver. It was quite the treat. (Her website is here.)
Without going into too much detail Jamie spoke at length about setting reasonable goals for your writing life. Now, I had
already set some goals for 2017 and I’ve written about them here. But it was still a treat to listen to the pro’s talk about the things that are near and dear to my heart.
Like making your actions reflect your values.
Too many times in my life I have told myself “This is what I want to do.” And then I don’t do it. I procrastinate, I put it off, and then I get mad when it’s not done.
When I was teaching in public schools, people would ask me “Why do you teach history?” My answer was always “History is about people. Their values, their motivations & their stories.” Yet I was miserable as a teacher! Why? Because I was supposed to be a story teller, a writer. The funny thing about my whole teaching career is in the answer I gave; I liked people’s stories. I was supposed to be a writer and I didn’t even know it.
This photo was taken by me this past Sunday evening. I turned 46. As I reflected upon this past year I realized I was really happy. Why? Because I am working towards my purpose. I’m not working some job because I have to make credit card and mortgage payments. I’m not wondering into a school angry and depressed trying to figure out what the Hell happened to my life? Even the most boring writing drudgery is uplifting to me because I have found my calling.
Now, am I able to provide for my family yet? No. But I’m working towards that. Will it be hard? Of course it will, but I am confident because I’m willing to do the work – and Right there is the key.
I love everything around writing. So the dirty work of writing queries, editing, finding magazines and agencies to submit to, I don’t mind. It’s all fascinating to me.
I don’t mind beta- reading other people’s work. I don’t mind helping a friend out at critique group. I want to hang out with other writers. You couldn’t pay me to hang out with other teachers when I taught.
So what does any of this have to do with goal setting and the amazing Jamie Raintree?
Writing New Year Resolutions, creating yearly, monthly, and daily goals can pinpoint what you really want to do with your life. If you spout off the same old platitudes about getting in shape, or getting out of debt, or finishing your bachelor’s degree, and six months later your still where you are, then clearly these aren’t priorities for you. And THAT, is OK!
Be honest with yourself. What do you want to do with the time you have on this rock hurdling through space? Be honest with yourself and figure it out.
If you want that degree, then get it.
If you want to write, then write.
But don’t waste your precious time living a lie. Find your truth.
I’m a BIG Captain America fan. Recently on Facebook I posted a line from the Civil War story in the Marvel comic books. Spiderman asks Cap why he does what he does. (The story is Amazing Spiderman #537) Cap then tells this story about how he was reading Mark Twain and paraphrases him. Here’s what cap says.
Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or
the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something
wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above
all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the
odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world
tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth,
and tell the whole world — “No, you move.”
Now I’m not Captain America, but the principle is the same. Your obligation in your life is to find your river of truth, and plant yourself there. Don’t worry what anybody else thinks. Don’t worry about how old you are or how many times you’ve failed.
Will it take longer if you have commitments and responsibilities? Of course. Am I saying run off and abandon your life and the people you love? NO. What I am saying is that you need to find your truth and live it. That river will nourish you, help you to grow. When you find yourself in the deserts of your life, that river will quench the parchedness and refresh you.
Soon you will find likeminded people living their truth and you will refresh each other. When that happens all the distractions, frustrations and obstacles won’t seem so daunting. You’ll find courage and grit. And then one day, you’ll look back on your life and find you’ve created a legacy.