The Fine Art of Letting Go

Posted by on Jun 30, 2012 in Writing | 10 comments

Sometimes there’s no answer but to breath deep.

Last time I wrote a blog post, over six months ago, the ramifications of my mother’s dementia hadn’t sunk in. My sisters and I thought she’d maintain her then level of dottiness for at least a few years. Talk about ignorance being bliss! There’s nothing like senile dementia to make me–the daughter who didn’t sail into adulthood gracefully, the daughter who longed to remain forever a pseudo-adult–to…well…grow up. I’ve had to let go of the notion that I’m fancy-free, that I can succumb to my wanderlust at anytime.

Might as well have told me that I’d have to chop off a leg.

In the last six months, I’ve also let go of the notion that I can continue on with no health insurance, working as little as I can get away with so that I can write fiction. Full-time job, here I come, and, believe me, I’m ambivalent.

And, last but not least, I’ve let go of the notion that I’ll land the perfect agent and land a fabulous publishing contract. Not saying that it couldn’t happen, only that it’s not a slam-dunk, and that given the new indie world of small presses and self-publishing, I can now do what I want. I know so many established novelists who are self-publishing, yet, it’s like cutting off the other leg to let go of my dream of the fancy New York agent and editor.

Make decisions about Mom’s care…Make decisions about my financial and physical wellbeing…Make decisions about how to achieve readership. Sounds like full-fledged adulthood to me.

Truth: I’ve been holding on so tight to my cherished notions about myself, my lifestyle, and my dreams that I’ve squeezed the life out of them.

I titled this post “The Fine Art of Letting Go,” but I don’t know if there’s a fine art to letting go. It’s effing demoralizing and frustrating and depressing. In my case, there’s been a lot of screaming while I drive (cathartic) and crying into my pillow (not so cathartic).

What I do know is this: holding tight is all about the ego, and my ego is the ultimate harridan. She’s a beady-eyed, shriveled thing who points her finger at me, sneers, and says, Choke down that humble pie, oh unpublished novelist. You’re a failure at the one dream you’ve ever had and now what will everyone on Facebook think of you?

Hard to ignore the ego sometimes, but the truth is that I’ve got to deal with what I’ve got to deal with: family, finances, health care…All that boring, unspecial stuff. I’m just like everyone else, after all.

I may not know squat about the fine art of letting go, but I gotta hope that there’s a fine art of letting IN new possibilities. That’s what I’m working on now.

10 Comments

  1. Terrific post! Grow up? Full time job? Arrrrgh!!! Er, uh, I mean Awesome! You could land one of those ultra-boring jobs that breed insanely brilliant characters. Or, you could become one. Wait. You are one already. Right?

    • You know what they say, Fake it until you make it. Too bad I’ve never been great at faking it!

  2. I wondered why you’d been so silent for so long on your blog. I’ve missed your voice. I’m so sorry to hear about your mother. As for your ego, you need to have a very strong ego to continue being a writer in today’s market. I’m not sure you should let go of it. Just balance it a bit with smaller expectations…at first.

    Remember, Lisa, you’ve got your whole life to achieve your dream. I have to say the health insurance is a good idea because the longer your life goes, the greater your chances. I have no doubt that as long as you keep at it, you will get published…it may start out with a small publisher, but one of these days, you’ll land an agent and a bigger deal.

  3. Thank you, Tanya. That’s so sweet of you to say. I thought of you recently, actually, because you self-published, and it was great experience for you (from what I could tell).

  4. Hey LIsa! I like to think of Letting Go as giving up on the illusion that I have any control over the future. The more I let go, the more energy I have for what I do have control over, which is what I choose to do right now. I’m glad you choose to keep on writing!

    • Hi there, Christina! I like that, I like that alot. It’s about mindfulness–being in the present. Right now is where my life is…Catch you later!

  5. My hero is the man who spent everyday, during his lunch hour writing. His novel was published. I agree with christina too. Knowing you, nothing wil stop you.

  6. The purpose is not to be a published author, but to have many friends who adore you. In that, you are mightily accomplished, and much more so than most.

    • Thanks, Liz–you’re a wonderful friend. Sometimes it’s too easy to forget who I DO have in my life!

  7. I think this is a great message. I lived with my grandma, who has dementia and Alzheimer’s for over a year. All I can say is that I have many, many stories about the ups and downs. You can check them out here:

    http://caseykurlander.wordpress.com/category/grandma/

    Thanks!
    Casey

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