This might be the Year of the Rabbit, but to me, it’s the Year of the Elephant.
Because I have an elephant in my room. She stands there, silent but looming; not menacing, but not going away, either. She just is. Large, gray, intimidating.
I try to ignore her. Goodness knows I’ve tried, for many years now. I try to make her go away, I try to reason with her, I try to pretend she doesn’t exist. But she does. She won’t leave.
The book that I’ve said, pretty much my entire life, that I want to write.
When I was a kid, I used to write little nonsense stories, create elaborate covers for them, and make books. I was always a voracious reader, and as I got older, I realized that there were some pretty crappy books out there…and I said well gee, if they can get published, so can I! I could have a real book in my hands, by me, not a fake one I made when I was 8!
This idea stuck in my head, and at some point in my 20s, I started writing. Fits and starts of different stories, but I never finished any of them. I’d write for a while, not like the story, start a new one. Go back and work on previous stories. Life would get “in the way” and I’d put the manuscripts away, only to be pulled out years later, and worked on a bit more. Still never finishing any of them.
Then I went to grad school for literature. Surely, as an English M.A. & college writing instructor, I’d finish at least one book. Isn’t that what profs do?
Nope, not me. Excuse after excuse kept me from ever finishing.
In an effort to “force” myself to finish, I told people I was writing a novel. Big mistake; I now have people who I may not see for months, but when I do see them, immediately ask, “Hey, how’s your book coming? Did you finish?” This does not inspire me. This annoys me. This makes me want to scream, dander fully up, ”I’ll bloody well finish it when I want to! Lemmelone!”
Guilty? No, not me!
So my response to my annoyance was to tell myself that I didn’t really want to write a book. Obviously I didn’t. Because if I did, I’d have finished one by now. This ridiculousness of saying I want to write a book yet not actually doing it surely was a big hint that writing wasn’t for me.
So I let it go, and pursued my first love: digital design. I’m building business around design, and I love it. I can (and do) design for hours (I can design every day all day and not get tired of it…but with writing, I get tired of it after a day or so and want to do something else, and that’s one of my excuses as to why I won’t finish). If I could eat & breathe design, I think I’d just meld into my computer, never to be seen again except as a blip in someone’s program, a la that X-Files episode where the guy & girl really did upload their minds into a computer network.
But what keeps swishing its tail, tickling the inside of my mind? That Darn Elephant.
See, I found out that ignoring that old dream of a book didn’t make it go away; it just pushed it underground, and then it popped back up as an elephant in the room of my subconscious. I don’t know why I don’t pursue the dream. I don’t know why, if I supposedly want to write a book, I don’t actually finish one of the four I have started (and two of them have a couple hundred pages written!). I don’t know why I think I want to write a book when I prefer spending my time designing.
All of this is on my mind because the past weeks have brought the book-writing goal back to the forefront of my mind. Lots of people talking about starting one in the new year, or happy that theirs was published, talk of book tours, etc. I try to shrug it off, in a “Oh, I remember wanting to write, but that’s not really me” kind of way.
Swish, tickle. Swish, tickle.
And a distant elephant roar.
So I decided to confront the elephant and figure this thing out once and for all, and that’s what the Elephant Coffee Klatch project is about: confronting my elephant, getting to know her, and deciding what to do with this lingering dream. To befriend my elephant, because ignoring her sure isn’t working.
The idea is to spend time getting to know my elephant, making friends with her. Not pressuring her, not making demands of her, and therefore not making demands of myself. Just spending time with her, chatting with her. Perhaps to finally break through the blocks that are stopping me from attaining this goal…or to finally release the goal, once and for all. If, at the end of the year, I find that I really do not resonate with this goal any more, I will let it go with love, and truly release the elephant back to the jungle. But if I find that I really do still want this goal, for honest reasons that speak to me, then I will commit to the goal in 2012.
I didn’t mention yet—my elephant’s name is Erma. (That’s what she told me, anyway.)
(Yes, I started talking directly to her. Silently. Not that I’m above talking to her out loud. My roommate might think I’m nuts, but what’s a little talking to invisible, unaccomplished goals between friends?)
Erma and I are going to go have more coffee before she heads off to snooze while I design.