During the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, I began to write my trilogy- the fictional story that’s been in my head for years now. I started in March and by summer time I had over 100,000 words written and three very rough and skeletal drafts.
Having my eye on the prize kept me motivated. The prize would be a finished and published product. I wasn’t too preoccupied about getting it published. If no one picked it up, I’d self publish through Amazon. My main goal was to get that music out. Like Elizabeth Gilbert says in Big Magic, if you don’t get your story out, someone else will! She then talks about a story that had been in her head, and she dragged her feet and then someone wrote and published the exact same story. I didn’t want that to happen. Also, Wayne Dyer says to not die with the music still inside you. This story was my music and I would do anything to get it out. Dying with your music still inside you sounded dreadful and sad.
Shamefully, I’ve only written a few thousand words since the summer of 2020. Afterwards, my work password was always bestseller2022 or published2022, or something to that effect. While it was always in the back of my mind, I had lost most of the motivation I had in the beginning.
This year it hit me. It doesn’t matter, and maybe Wayne Dyer’s quote doesn’t apply. The summer of 2020 was probably the most therapeutic time in my life. I had just hit my one year and narrowly escaped going back to drinking. If I had, I know that none of this would have happened. The pandemic left us hunkered down with our family, and while that was kind of nice, there was an underlying fear and sadness. During this time, I wrote for hours everyday, especially during the summer when my days were free. I’d sit on the deck and write for sometimes ten hours straight. The hours writing fly by.
Magic happened. I’d write scenes that real life would then mimic. Some of my ideas came from a place deep down, a place normally inaccessible to my conscious mind. The main character goes through some traumatic events, and I can’t help but think this helped me process and purge some of my own trauma.
When I think back to that summer, I do it with fondness and think of the magic- not the long days working. The work was so incredibly enjoyable to me.
And that’s why it no longer matters. I don’t need a finished, perfect copy to publish. Writing those drafts served a huge purpose. To discount that at all because I stopped where I stopped is unfair and stupid.
This realization took away that feeling that I was on the losing end of the fictional timeline I created. I’m not giving up, and would like to finish it in this lifetime, but it may or may not happen. I think that releasing this belief opened space for greater things.
This week I started another project, that I feel might be just as or even more healing. After several years of knowing it would happen when I was ready, I started my sobriety book.
I started it on Monday and by Wednesday night I had over 10,000 words written. The words have been pouring out onto my paper.
I spent a lot of time anticipating how to format the chapters, layout, etc before beginning. I think that was a mistake. Now I’m following my heart and know that it will take shape exactly how it’s supposed to.
Even though it’s only been a few days, it’s already been an amazing experience. I feel so grateful as I write my story. Going back to the beginning of my enormous adult struggle has been humbling. I could have so easily missed this path.
Writing about my mom’s death and the aftermath made me realize how much work and healing that’s already been done. It also reminds me that there is more to go, which will always be true.
I think more than anything, my story will be relatable. I think one of the most noteworthy things about my story is the fact that in all aspects, I should have grown into middle age without such excessive drinking. I didn’t have a traumatic childhood and did everything right. By my mid 30’s I had a decent (mostly good) marriage, the 2 kids- 2.5 car garage, the career, etc. Also, I didn’t live through anything traumatic, except maybe the first death of a grandparent when I was 32. I knew I should be grateful for having all four grandparents up until that point. By all means, I should have been happy.
But I wasn’t and I blame my alcohol addiction, 100%. Maybe I didn’t have anything traumatic happen, but I also didn’t learn self-care, self-soothing skills or coping skills for dealing with stress. My coping skill toolbox included a key to the liquor cabinet, and that’s about it.
A memory sticks out in my head. I was probably in 6th or 7th grade, and normally showered at night. One day, for some reason, I took a bath in the morning instead. I remember this as one of the most heavenly baths I had ever experienced. I remember thinking that I should get up early more often and bathe before school because for some reason it felt so relaxing and carefree to me- more so than a nighttime bath would. Plus I felt extra clean going to school that day. I never took the time to do it again though.
It wasn’t until recovery that this feeling made sense. For the first time I had experienced the joy of self-love and self-care.
I can only imagine how much better my mental health would have been if I had learned more self-care/self-love skills and strategies. I don’t blame my parents, of course. I don’t think they had these skills themselves.
On top of that, ironically, it wasn’t until I did face a huge trauma in my life, that I was able to begin healing. I simply didn’t know, how good I had it. My mom always stressed to be grateful, and it was always easy to say I was grateful for a multitude of things. However, I didn’t feel it. It’s one thing to say it, but a whole new level to intrinsically feel grateful. It wasn’t until after she died, that I learned how to feel grateful.
The anomaly I used to think I was, I now know is probably more the norm.
I hope my story can help other people and that my motivation can last until this project comes to fruition. Either way, it will serve its purpose, so I’m not preoccupied with a timeline or goal. Each moment of writing has its purpose and nothing else really matters.