"Ambition should be made of sterner stuff..." - Marc Antony, Julius Caesar
I’ve always had more than my fair share of ambition. Constantly ready to tackle a new task, finish it, and move onto the next thing. This goes back practically to birth. My mom loves telling people about the time I told my 2nd grade teacher she was wasting my time. That I was just going to test out of school and start college where I’d actually LEARN something. Couldn’t imagine something like that coming out of my mouth. :)
But I’ve always been like that. It wasn’t something I heard from someone else and repeated. Just 100% Pure Smarty Pants. I always had an answer for what I wanted to be when I grew up, complete with a 20 step plan on how I was going to get there. What college, what degree... had it planned. I even questioned the adults around me about what they were doing with their lives. Cute kid, huh? Anyway, I hit college full force. Finished in 2.5 years with summer school and 18 credit semesters. Hit grad school. Finished it in a year while working full time. I was in a hurry. I was going to save the world. Go to law school. Take on Washington. Blah, blah, blah...
My idealistic little heart got crushed several years ago by a tractor-trailer called 'reality.' I was disillusioned by the political process and decided that was setting myself up for years of pain and frustration if not ultimate failure. Combined with reaching a point in my life where it wasn’t so easy to achieve measurable goals – unless I wanted a PhD or something, I felt lost for a while. I spent time wondering what the point of my life really was. Billions of people get up every day and just live their lives without some greater purpose. I could do it too.
So then what? I decided to pursue a dream I’d had but hadn’t given much real consideration. I’d written stories alone in my room since I was old enough to type. I decided I wanted to be a writer. (Yes, as though the road to publication wouldn’t be as painful or frustrating as politics...) It gave me a new way to achieve goals – finishing books, even if the ultimate goal of publishing (Yes, I know that’s not a real goal because it’s out of my control) was never achieved.
Reading Rocki’s blog this week about losing the joy...I have to thank her for being honest. I know everyone goes through this, either privately, or my venting to dear Playfriends. I haven’t lost the joy yet but I can see how easily it can happen. I’ve had a couple dents in my joy with rejections and bad contest results. Mostly, my joy is in tact. I do, however, go through long periods where I lose the ambition. I wrote DD in 6 weeks. It flowed out of me. Everything was great. Then revisions came and I just lost interest. Without the deadline, the editor or agent breathing down my neck...there’s nothing to push me when I am no longer pushing myself.
I fear this declaration might get me in trouble (ie. Last winter when I was forced to write 1 pg a day and post it so everyone knew I did it) but this time, I don’t think I’m alone. I think several of us are in the can’t/don’t/won’t phase.
When you can’t gather the energy to get off of the couch, much less craft a piece of literary brilliance, what do you do for a kick in the pants?
(PS. Speaking of ugly-cute pets, ie. Instigator's post last week, I have posted my latest guilt adoption. His name is Buddy and we 'caught' him on Sunday.)