“Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.” – T.S. Eliot
Taped to the edge of my computer screen is a yellowing newspaper horoscope from September 25, 2003:
Please remember that you are not competing in a sprint. You are running a marathon. Be sure to pace yourself and not be overly concerned about the fast starters who have sped ahead. Clear your beautiful mind of envy and self-doubt as well as the pushy expectations of people who don’t know the intricacies of what you are doing. Use your fine mind to figure out how to be motivated by pleasure, not pressure.
Some days I still beat myself about the head and shoulders with the accomplishments of others. Don’t get me wrong. I love to see the people I know succeed. They show me what is possible. But sometimes I forget it’s not a race.
Of meditation practice, Shinzen Young said, “It’s not whether you meditate every day, but will you still be meditating when I see you ten years from now?” Natalie Goldberg asks, “Who among you will still be writing in a decade?” I want to be the one who still picks up the pen. I’ve watched some of those who sprinted ahead burn out. Some aren’t writing at all while others have become disillusioned. It’s the old tortoise and the hare business. To finish the memoir, I put one word after another, day after day, year after year. To finish this novel, I’ll need to do the same. Meanwhile I send query letters and submit the memoir to contests. Bit by bit it adds up to a writing life.
So let’s notice the scenery as we trudge along. If we miss our lives, we’ll have nothing to write about.