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Becoming a Process Person

I was not very into the idea of process during my university years. I liked that word about as much as I liked the words busy, bibliography, and bills.

In the decade since, I have learned that my schedule will always be as full as I let it be, that there is always boring paperwork to correspond with the interesting work, and that paying bills is an inevitable and manageable part of life.

I have also learned that I will never arrive. I will always be in process. For several years, I fought this. Sometimes, I still do. There are days I see where I want to be, and I wonder why I can't just get there and be there immediately. Why can't I change this stubborn heart, when I want to? Why can't I get the job, when I know I'd thrive there? Why can't I be a perfect friend? What if I never get better at any of these things?

These days, I try not to listen to fear or frustration (which is little more than pride proved wrong). And in doing this, I'm taking more risks, doing more things, getting further along and deeper into the "process" of living.

I'm making a concentrated effort to write every day this month. Of course, the first few days produced absolutely awful results and I thought to myself, "I will never make it as a writer." But the story I'm telling kept taking shape in my mind, and I found myself daydreaming it, playing out all the threads and wanting to write it anyway.

And serendipitously, a library book I'd placed on hold before Thanksgiving finally came in. Anne Lamott's writing advice/memoir, Bird by Bird. In the first chapter, she writes:
But I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all that it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do - the actual act of writing - turns out to be the best part. It's like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.
Ah! She is on to something. The more I write, the more I remember that I want to write. I somehow need to write. And as I write, the process becomes the goal. Or rather, I am so focused on the process, on doing and creating and living out where I am, that the future prospect of results and arriving become far less vital (and stressful).

I still hope it happens, writing and life-wise, but I'm not "there" yet, and for now, I'm embracing the process. There will be (and have been) some gloriously awful first drafts. Some things make it through to round two, and as I keep digging in and drilling's amazing what rich rewards I find.


kat said…
I loved this. I also love that I can always count on you to encourage/remind me to write.
Beth said…
yeah, kat! write!

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