As much as I love the crazy, complicated chaos that is the internet, there comes a time every year when I sign out of Facebook, stop tweeting, and push the power button on all my devices.
Now is that time.
I will miss (at least a little bit) Lenny Kravitz’s wardrobe malfunctions and cats-vs-roomba and the latest kerfuffle in the YA community. I will miss (much more) the sharp insights and biting wit of my colleagues.
And I will miss you (a lot).
But I will be listening to pebbles and sliding through water on wings of my own flesh and feeling the smooth wood of a paddle shaft under my palms. The smell of wood smoke will curl through my dreams, and when I wake early, and the mist is still rising, I will crush a leaf of sweet gale between my thumb and forefinger and breathe deep.
It is time.
When I see you next, my dears, I will be more me and less maelstrom.
I know I blog a lot about being angsty. I like to rely on Ralph Keyes assessment that if you’re not a bit angsty and anxious, you’re not much of a writer, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to feel better a lot of the time. Hence, I paid careful attention to HAPPY, the movie.
You should watch this.
It summarizes several decades of “positive psychology” aka happiness and yields some serious gold.
About 50% of happiness can be explained by genetics. That means each of us have a set point that has a strong genetic component. I get that my set point for happiness is lower than that of say my uber-exercising, perennially-positive editor friend (you know who you are). I can deal with that.
About 10% of happiness (ONLY 10%!!!!!!!!) can be explained by wealth, health, and success.
The other 40% — well, it’s up to us.
And apparently the formula is simple. Play + Movement + Service + Friends = HAPPY
Who’s with me?
In general, I’m an advocate of the “YES” principle (also known in my world as “JUMP”). I’m a risk-taker. I push myself. I want to try new things, hard things, scary things. I’m not crazy or an adrenaline junkie. Instead, I believe in forward motion and growth rather than stagnation or withering.
Except right now… I’m curling up in my den and licking my wounds.
Over the weekend, my family was a serious car wreck. We were in a series of blind S-curves when a car blasted toward us half-way into our lane. My husband had a split second to try and get us out of the way, and a likely front-end collision turned into more of a side blow, taking out the rear tire and axel. Somehow we all walked away from a car that is likely totalled.
We humans have this remarkable capacity to forget. We forget pain. We forget fear. We forget that every second of every day we balance on a well-honed edge between life and death. Remembering takes me out at the knees, steals my breath, pummels me with the echo of loss.
I know I’ll come up swinging again, but today–and for as many days as it takes–I’m burrowing in and tending to some gashes.
I’ll be honest. I’m complicated. I worry about a lot of things. I over-analyze. I dissect. (Nod your head sympathetically toward my husband. He’ll appreciate the gesture.)
Sometimes I feel like I’ve got a whole universe jammed inside my skin. I’m stretched tight like a sausage with all the stuff I think about. (Bonus points if you know why I selected that image.)
I’m not going to tell you what I worry about. Mostly it’s boring, cliche, or embarrassing. But I will tell you that the worrying is analogous to my writing process. In the same way I might fret about my kids’ future, I turn the elements of my story around and around. I twist and tangle and ultimately untangle the narrative threads. Because I’m complicated, I write complex characters in shifting universes. I like to think that the personal anxiety has a purpose that is made manifest in the writing.
But the curious thing (and the point of this post) is that I never feel anxious about writing the book. Isn’t that weird? I worry about all these things, but there’s a deep down secure knowledge that I can write the book. I will serve the story. And I’m always learning how to do it better. Cool, huh?