Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Who I Am

My current WIP has me thinking a lot about who we want to be, as individuals, versus who we really are. And how sometimes the two have to be reconciled.

Let me give you some examples.

I want to be a selfless mom, with endless amounts of patience, one who always sits down to play a game at a moment's notice, or never fails to make her girls giggle when they really feel like crying. That's the way I sometimes think it should be. But who am I? I'm a mom who can only take so much before she needs a break. I'm one who can't always drop what she's doing, or who feels like maybe a good cry would feel better than a giggle. Does this mean I'm a selfish mom? Not at all. It means I've discovered who I really am within the context of motherhood, and that I choose to be realistic about what I can expect from myself.

I also, at times, wish I could fit the "ideal" of a successful writer. I want to be one who carries the needed amount of discipline wherever she goes, who fights the negative thoughts, who sets time aside each day no.matter.what. And yet... Discipline is the hardest thing about writing. Sometimes sitting myself down to the task (or chapter) at hand, to really work at it, proves incredibly difficult. I fear rejection and judgment and failure. And I haven't yet come to terms with routine. Do I wish I could sit down and write for a solid chunk of time, every day from 8-10 am? Absolutely. Does my current life situation allow for it? Nope. But none of this means I can't be successful. It's coming to terms with who I really am as a writer, of that which I'm capable of at this time in my life. And making it work for me, instead of cursing it.

Being honest with ourselves, about who we really are, opens us up to our potential. Because if we're realistic about that potential, we won't fail. When we entertain thoughts of if only I had more time or if I could be better at [insert here], we set ourselves up for disappointment.

Don't think about what you could do, if. Think about what you can do, because you are.

And do it.

32 comments:

Angie Ledbetter said...

Sweet realties. Write on, mom/writer/woman!

Brian and Kelly said...

Amen! I think that's why I read-- its easier (and nicer) to learn about yourself when you'mre really reading about someone else. I imagine writing would be even more so!

Wendy Pinkston Cebula said...

That's a great post, and so true. (And also why I have never signed up for NaNo.) While I do think I could and should strive to be just a bit better, knowing how I am and how that works into my goals brings a sense of peace.

Joanne said...

I think a lot of knowing our selves is to live in the moment, and not, as you say, wish away time with if only's. Being completely in the moment as a writer, even in increments, you're giving it your all, your soul. And the same is true of being in the Mom moment, as I learned last week. I put myself fully into being a Mom, and found that no matter the title, Mom, writer, friend, daughter, there's no better gift than recognizing and owning each as needed.

Ladybird World Mother said...

This is a great post... I have absolutely no fear at the moment of rejection... I just want to get on and get published, even a small corner of my local paper... thats my challenge... while I am in this Fighting Mood!

Janna Qualman said...

Angie - Yes'm! :D

Kelly - You've got a good point, I think. Often, seeing something put into perspective by someone else makes it easier to understand.

Wendy - Thanks! And that may be the reason for my non-NaNoing ways, too. I have to set my own guidelines, and I'm comfortable with that for now.

Joanne - You've expressed this very well.

Ladybird - Thanks for stopping by! And good luck with getting in that local paper. :)

Turkey Lurkey said...

Great post Janna! I completely agree with you! I feel that it is good for my kids to see that I have interests outside of motherhood. Besides.. the things I enjoy doing are the things that make me who I am. Its good for the kids to see that too. To see that I am an individual and not just 'MOM'.

As far as writing goes.. I have to sit back and look at what is motivating me. Am I writing for my own pleasure, or to prove to others that I am a writer?

thedomesticfringe said...

Janna, that was a wonderful post! Thank you. It's too tough to be constantly working towards perfection or our idea of perfection. Somehow we always fall short anyway. Learning to be content with ourselves is a great lesson and one I need to work on more.
-FringeGirl

Janet said...

Good wisdom. The whole Superwoman thing is a myth anyway, at least for 99.99% of us. I remember a motivational saying: "All you can do is all you can do, and all you can do is enough." Don't ask more of yourself than that.

That you are getting any writing done at all with a young family is impressive enough. I was never capable of it.

Ana said...

Happy to know you have re-connected with your realist self. That is the truest part of all, especially in experience.

Melissa Marsh said...

Wow. Excellent post, Janna. I know I had to come to terms with who I am as a mother, too. There's always that expectation of perfection out there, yet it's so unreachable.

Same with writing. I don't have the discipline to sit down at the same time every night and write, or get up in the morning at 5 a.m. and write for two hours before I get ready for the day. I'm not going to attempt to do that, either, because I know my limits - and I would fail miserably at this.

Janna Qualman said...

Turkey - That's an excellent question, the one about whether we try to prove ourselves as writers to others. Something to think about, for sure!

Aw, FringeGirl, you're welcome. I think it's important for us to go easier on ourselves than we first tend to.

Janet - But you've got 5 kids! My output would drastically change if I had any more than 2, that's for sure.

Ana - Hi! :) "The truest part." I like that.

Melissa - We hear a lot that we should carve out a time, even if it's before anyone else is awake in the house, so we CAN write every day. And my thinking is the same as yours: I know my limits, and cutting short on my sleep is not one of them.

spyscribbler said...

"Don't think about what you could do, if. Think about what you can do, because you are."

Oh, I love that, Janna! I need to have that framed. That's great!

colbymarshall said...

lovely post. You go gal!

Janna Qualman said...

Spy - LOL! I'm flattered. :)

Colby - But of course! ;)

JOY said...

Honest reflections. I admire how you write from that true point inside and express a calmness with your words. Just what I needed today. Thanks!

Janna Qualman said...

Joy - Wow! Your comment is poetic! Thank you. :)

Jen said...

Excellent post, Janna. Lots of really good thoughts here. :)

Josh said...

So Sayeth The Janna

Amen

Terri Tiffany said...

I have missed your daily thoughts.
This is a great point you make here! We need to live within who we are and be happy with what we can do to do it with joy.
I know my time is to work now but I also know it won't make me stop writing if I want it badly enough.

Rafael said...

The Eternal Quest! Good luck on your journey.

Anonymous said...

I am still trying to figure out who I am.
;0)
~Heather

Janna Qualman said...

Jen - Thanks!

Josh - Write it in stone! LOL

Terri - That makes me feel really good! :) Thank you for saying that.

Rafael - No doubt. Thanks!

Heather - That's easy! You're a devoted mom, steadfast friend, and feisty woman. :) Luv ya.

Anonymous said...

You are way too kind.
Love ya too!
~Heather

PS Ask me again after my birthday I will have it all figured out. That is my goal.

Kathryn Magendie said...

This is a wonderfully insightful post! yes!

Jessica said...

Ick. You just reminded me that I'm ignoring my laptop right now in favor of blogs.

Janna Qualman said...

Heather - Okey dokey! :)

Kat - Thanks!

Jessica - Oh, my apologies! :P

Barbara said...

Wow, we are on the same page. I promise I didn't copy your idea when I wrote my post. LOL. It's just that two great minds think alike...again LOL.

MichaƩle said...

I love this post...you are such a sweetie!

Janna Qualman said...

Barbara - So funny! :) I like being on the same wavelength as you.

MichaƩle - Aww, thank you very much. :)

Melanie Avila said...

I love this Janna. Sorry I'm a little late in commenting. I think the important thing is that you're true to yourself, not some ideal that other people set as the standard, or what works.

Do you ever read Erica Orloff's blog? She's published dozens of books while raising four children, the youngest of whom is three. She talks a lot about squeezing in writing when you can and not getting hung up on a routine. As long as you do it, you'll succeed, imo. :)

Janna Qualman said...

Melanie - Thank you so much! And no, I haven't read Erica's blog. Do you have it linked on your blog?