Last spring I signed up for a memoir class at the local college that started in June. I’ve been working on my book since I was living it but haven’t done much in the way of formatting, editing, or adding to it since I finished the Arizona sections upon completion of the list. I know I need to do it. The book isn’t going to write itself, and although many things have happened in the years since I turned 30, this story is a memoir of one specific year in my life. I’ve struggled with figuring out how to weave the items on the list together in a cohesive manner and how to make my reader care enough about me and my goals to keep turning the page. I’ve also struggled with whether I really learned enough to make it a true and compelling memoir. I haven’t traveled internationally in over a year now, and I’m not a diplomat (we’ll discuss the current state of American politics another time), and I’m not working to make the world a better place, and I’m barely making music. What happened to those big dreams? What happened to what I learned that year?
The memoir class was awesome, and just the kick in the pants I needed to get back to writing the book. In class I wrote a rough draft of a section of the book I’d been afraid to write this whole time. “What if my grandma reads it?” I’d wonder. Well, there was a delightful 82-year-old woman in class who told me she wants a copy of the book after I read that section aloud. There’s my answer. “What if writing about how I crossed 30 things off a to-do list isn’t very exciting?” Well, the professor actually inhaled an “Oh, that’s good!”when we went around and discussed our topics. After we took turns sharing in class and giving feedback, I remembered not only do I have a story to tell, but I’m telling it to connect with others. At my core, that’s what I am: a communicator. I communicate words, music, ideas, stories, solutions. I try to connect with others. Maybe that stems from often feeling like a loner or like I was just on the fringes, never really part of the action (until I made the action happen when I was 29).
I also had to face up to the fact that I was the only thing holding me back. I’ve been choosing to browse around online instead of writing my own story. Both acts involve staring at the screen, but one is active and the other is very passive. (I’ve also been taking a class online about music/arts and social action – maybe that’s helping motivate me too. Writing is an art…) I’d like to lead an active life. I don’t want life to just happen to me. If I want to write a book, I need to write the damn book. If I want to book a ticket to somewhere new to me, I need to put up the credit card. I know that wherever I have ended up in life has always been because of myself and my choices, and I need to get back on track to make better choices.
I’m the type of person who thrives on having goals and checklists – probably why my 30 Before 30 list worked out so well. When things are up in the air it can be really challenging for me to focus my energy on any one area and I tend to feel stagnant even when going in a million directions. Right now we’re trying to figure out our next move, but since a lightning bolt has yet to appear with a flashing sign saying “you two are supposed to move to New Zealand and own a winery” or something similar, we’re weighing our goals and dreams with our options. But just because I don’t know where we’re headed I can’t stop writing about what I’ve already done. I lived it. I turned 30. I had those experiences, and I’m not really honoring the person I became through that year by letting the writing take up space on my hard drive.
So here we are, after I’ve barely posted for the month I was taking the memoir class, and I’m publicly renewing my goal to make at least one blog post per week (as an average, by the end of the year…clearly I’ll have some catching up to do). I’m not telling myself how long they have to be or what they have to cover, but I need to write. My professor suggested even 20 minutes a day will get the cobwebs out of our brains and help us focus on what we actually, really, truly want to say. I can most definitely find 20 minutes most days that I’d otherwise squander on clickbait and recipe-planning. But I like goals and to-do lists, so it’s my concrete goal:
Average 1 blog post per week for the year of 2016. That means 52 posts by the end of December.
Good luck to me.