Friday, December 14, 2007

Ending the War With Myself

by Julia Buckley
I'm a bit late posting today; lots of people have been posting here about the stress of holiday obligations, the need to get things just right, to be appropriate for the season. Often it's motivated by a need to not let the family down.

Added to this, if you're a writer, is all of that other stuff that you didn't think that being a writer would involve: the stress of deadlines, the onerous (and expensive) task of promotion, the feeling that if you're not doing something right now you're probably failing in some way--failing to reach a potential audience, failing to make a sale, failing, failing.

Well, I don't believe in that conflict any longer--I think it's an illusion, and I'm backing away from it. Somehow I've kept this holidays relatively serene; last night I watched my son in his final Christmas Concert (they end at third grade). It was sweet, and poignant, and real. It's what I want as my priority. I sat and watched fifty children perform "Stille Nacht" with sign language, accompanied by harmonic strings. Fifty children touching their closed eyes to indicate "sleep" and fifty children sweeping their little hands toward the domed ceiling to represent "heavenly." I realized, in that instant, that it doesn't really matter if I get out all the Christmas cards, or scrub every floor, or even do some sort of picture-perfect holiday thing like caroling door to door. No one, other than me, is going to remember anyway.

The same is true of my writing. If someday I'm writing blockbusters, that will be a lovely accident, but it's not going to happen as a result of me putting all of my energy on promoting and taking it away from my family. Ultimately, the world will go on with or without books by me, sad as my ego might be to admit that.

In the meantime, though, I can make an impact in the present with the people who are with me now, and in a sense I think that focus will make me a better writer in the long run.

Am I existential today? I'm curious to know what other people might say.

In any case, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Joyous Kwanzaa. :)

14 comments:

Mark Terry said...

I am SO in agreement with you.

Joe Moore said...

What Mark said but double it.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Beautiful posting, Julia! Enjoy your holidays and Happy New Year!

Keith Raffel said...

Serenity. The best holiday gift of all?

G.M. Malliet said...

Lovely and timely posting. Thanks.

Felicia Donovan said...

I'll sixth that. Great post, Julia.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Julia,

Years ago, Liz Curtis Higgs told me that while the world has other authors and speakers, she's the only "mom" in her children's lives.

I often think of that. My son is working on his college apps, and I get weepy just thinking about him going off. So when he says, "Mom, will you watch a movie with me?" or like last night, "Want to come read with me before bed?" I'm so there.

Julia Buckley said...

Thanks, everyone. I was expecting this to be a more controversial post, but apparently not. :)

Joanna, I agree. The bigger they get, the more you realize what you had, and probably wasted, when they were small. So much to appreciate, so little time.

Nina Wright said...

Julia, the older I get, the surer I become that family and friends matter most. In the end, they may be all that matters. Happy holidays!

Bill Cameron said...

Yes. Me too.

Candy Calvert said...

Amen! You made me smile (and choke up) with the image of those children touching their eyes and pointing heavenward.
Perfect post--thank you!

Joyous holidays to you and your family, Julia.

Candy

Jess Lourey said...

Has anyone ever told you you're a really good writer, Julia? Great post. Thank you for the cosmic adjustment.

Julia Buckley said...

Thanks, Jess, Bill, Nina, Candy. I really appreciate all the positive reinforcement! :)

Anna "Micky" Land said...

I liked your children's performace comment. I could just see it in my mind's eye. Interestinly enough I have written a book with the same title Ending the War with Myself. If you have time look over my site. endingthewarwithmyselfcom. I love the two or shall I say one woman wrestling with herself. That about says it all. Micky Land