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January 23, 2013

Lessons, Legacy, and Lost (and Found) Focus

Ever since I was a kid, I've had this feeling deep in my heart that all things happen when we need them most - even the bad things. Whether it be a lesson to learn, an experience to change our perspective, or an opportunity that slips away, some part of me has always believed these things fall into the timeline of our lives to add the twists and turns to our paths that make us who we are.

Almost a week ago, I got word from a friend that one of our mutual friends had had a very much unexpected and life-threatening turn in health. She was fine one day, and the next left her literally hanging on to life by a thread. This whole situation not only exhausted me with grief and worry for her and her family, it also made me start to wonder what I would miss or what I might leave behind if I were ever in a similar situation.

Basically, it got me thinking about my legacy.

I know, "legacy" is an awfully heavy word, but it boils down to figuring out what creative contributions I want to leave behind. To know that, I had to think really hard on all of my past goals, achievements, and regrets.

Sure, I have had plenty of goals and quite a few achievements to pat myself on the back for, but whoa do I have some regrets when it comes to the things I truly wish I had done. Instead of beating myself up about it, I decided to be proactive and start making the steps towards meeting those dreams.

First on my list was to shake up my writing habits a bit more than I had since the beginning of the new year. (Let's face it - I've been too soft and lazy about producing the quality and quantity that I know I'm able to create.)

My solution for this obstacle was to join a local writers' group. This is a huge step for me, especially considering that I've been a self-sentenced hermit since about October, 2011. Last night, I attended my first meeting and found it to be everything I'd hoped - a mix of motivated, creative, and friendly people who strive to offer constructive criticism and encouragement. BINGO.

I left the meeting with a refreshed sense of my own creative power, but more importantly with a new mental list of my priorities when it came to using that energy. I realized that I'm ready to push forward and finish a novel that has been treading water since 2010. I knew that I need to revisit the manuscript for Whitehall to refresh my memory and ignite the spark for that story once again. I also resigned myself to the knowledge that in order to get these things done, I have to make a real effort to stay focused and dedicate the time to them that they deserve - even if that means carving time away from something else.

As soon as I got home, I found an email message in my inbox telling me that basically I would not be working on a big contract (aka $$$) writing project like I had originally thought.


Was this the Universe granting me the time I need to give my writing priorities the attention they require? I like to think so, even if it means no paychecks for a while.

This topic reminds me of the concept of synchronicity, and that reminds me of The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I worked through the book back in 2007 when my focus was still primarily on visual arts. The two years that followed were the most creatively productive of my entire life. I'm eager to reclaim that flow, and I think it's time I revisited the book for some help.

Would any readers be willing to join up and work through the exercises in The Artist's Way as a group?

I hope you'll consider it!

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