The first week of 2018 is coming to a close. How are everyone’s resolutions going? I don’t usually make resolutions but, moving forward, I am resolved to be kinder to myself. I tend to be hard on myself, demand a great deal of myself, and then fall into negative self-talk when I can’t meet my own expectations. In 2018, I resolve to say positive things about myself and focus on what I believe is my calling. Writing.
I didn’t always think writing was my calling and, by ‘calling’ I mean the one thing I loved to do above all other things. Writing was a hobby, nothing more. After all, there were many other worthwhile things I could be doing. I liked reading, enjoyed words, and always wrote even if it was just in a journal but it was always the thing I did to keep myself sane while I pursued that worthwhile thing. And yet, there was always an image in my head: an example a friend set for me that always had me asking myself, is this worthwhile thing something I love doing?
That friend is Tara Novak and the example she set for me occurred on a New York trip we had opportunity to take with our High School drama group. Tara is an immensely talented violinist and she brought her violin on that trip. In the early morning, Tara was practicing her violin in the stairwell of the hotel our group was staying in. That has always stayed with me. With her talent, no doubt Tara could have taken a few days off practice and no one would have ever noticed. She didn’t. No matter what others might think or say, Tara was running scales before breakfast, honing her craft. I never asked her if she did so because she loved violin too much not to play: whatever her reasons, her example is the standard I have measured my choices against.
I have taken enjoyment in many things and, perhaps they were worthwhile, but none of them was the thing I’d do in a hotel stairwell. The only thing I’ve never wanted to take a day off from and, yes, would do in a hotel stairwell, is writing. I love words. Reading them, writing them, finding that one word that perfectly expresses what I want to say. Words are my passion.
Pursuing that passion isn’t always easy. I have some physical limitations from the car accident that can make writing difficult and I am not always nice to myself when I come up against those limitations. I tell myself if I was a better writer, more talented, I would be able to write less drafts and my book would not be taking so long to complete. I find Tara’s example a comfort in these times. She wasn’t in that stairwell playing Bach’s Chaconne from Partita in D Minor (though she could have done if she wanted!): she was playing scales. I like to think of my writing that way. I have thousands of words and, even though they aren’t yet honed into a manuscript, each word is like a note in a musical scale: the necessary practice for the manuscript that will come. I remember Tara in a hotel stairwell on those days writing doesn’t go well or I’m especially tired. She reminds me to never give up and I am able to show myself kindness. I will always be grateful.