Confession: I cried at a writing workshop.
It was at a lunch table and I was talking to my awesome workshop leader. My frustration was that I wasn’t as published as I wanted to be. But really, as my workshop leader said, it was my life.
Then she gave me a piece of advice. She told me to stop writing.
Not all at once and not forever. We talked about what I gave up for the writing life. For me, the writing life included all the years as a journalist. What did I give up to pursue this?
The list was long. I wasn’t living the life I wanted personally or professionally. I didn’t feel that the life I created for myself was what I wanted or, frankly, deserved. My base level expectations weren’t high, they just weren’t there. I was existing, not living and my writing suffered because of it.
So, I created an intention at the end of my workshop. I would not write for a month while I focused on putting down roots on the life I wanted.
Yeah, that was a moment in my life that brought me the right amount of pain for the hope of joy.
In the past 30 days, the following happened.
1. Several new ideas for the Jennie Manning book
2. Career change
3. A big move back to my home town
4. The deterioration of what I thought was important
5 The opportunity to make things as simple as possible
6. A test of faith
Well, that last one is still happening.
In my life, the past 30 days or so have been the most life changing. What I thought would be an easy-ish 30 days of figuring things out has really been a revision of my life. A hard revision.
Among the biggest lesson making my life simple. For me simplicity went beyond taking things easy. I parred down my belongings, things I’ve spent a good part of my adult life putting together. I chose to go home and not stay in the DFW. I chose to restart my life in a different way. I chose to be surrounded by life and authenticity than everything but.
These were easy choices on paper, difficult to execute in real life.
And thus the deterioration of what I thought was important. That meant changing my point of view on success, on what was the big passion of my life, of what I wanted in a work and social life. All the things that I thought was important, and what I was meant to believe was important, really wasn’t. It just wasn’t. And the price I paid for it wasn’t worth it.
The faith part of this entire journey–that’s the hard part. It’s not about religion or spirituality, it’s about faith in myself that I could see this through to what I know will be the new chapter of my life. Faith that I wouldn’t lose it with each obstacle. Faith that I could solve problems differently. This is an exercise in faith and everyday I’m working out.
Despite all the change and upheaval, the 30 days of not writing was the exact right thing I could do for myself at the exact right time. It was a long time coming.
The result? I’m not writing full time yet. I’m actually in the middle of a move. But I’m easing back into the writing LIFE. That’s the difference. I’m thinking about my life as a writer not writing for my life. That’s the difference. I think of the whole picture — the books, the office hours to take care of the plotting and planning, the courses, this blog, learning and relearning things, growing a business and the life that goes with it. That includes birthday parties, baby showers, happy hours, family gatherings, and visits just to say, “Hey”.
That’s what I didn’t have before. THAT’S what I wanted. THAT’S the life I wanted to live. It only took 30 days* to get it.
*Give or take a couple of years
Icess Fernandez Rojas is a writer, blogger, teacher, and journalist. Her commentary has appeared in The Guardian and on Huffington Post Latino Voices. Her fiction has been published in literary journals/anthologies such as Minvera Rising and Soul’s Road. Her first book, the beginning of the Jennie Manning series, will come out next year. In addition to writing, Icess teaches fiction writing classes. Want more on what it takes to be a writer? Sign up or contact her and ask a question.