Posted by : Sherri Cornelius Saturday, July 11, 2009

It's one of those blank-brain mornings. Hubs woke me early this morning, now he's snoozing and I'm wishing I was. Takes me a lot of time and care to get to sleep in the first place. I can't just "fall asleep" like he can. There's no "falling" about it. More like "dragging under." So it's not worth the effort. Since I didn't get to wake slowly on my own, I can't even remember my dream or I'd blog about that. I think it was interesting...

So what about dreams? On some list somewhere I read that people don't like to read about other people's dreams, but I like reading about them. Am I unusual, or was that list writer just a cranky old goat?

Do you know what I hate about writing? It's not how long the business process takes, not anymore. It's how long I take. It's always longer than I think it will be, and then I feel like a failure, even though I'm the one who set the bar on impossibly high pegs. I never adjust my timeline, either. Once the date passes, I just have a constant feeling of lateness. What a self-defeating attitude! To wake up every morning feeling like a failure already because I didn't meet some arbitrary goal and don't have the brains to realistically adjust it.

Well at least I finally realized what I'm doing. I'm always telling everybody else to take it easy on themselves. Well now I'm going to take my own advice, whether I'm feeling like the greatest writer in the world or a complete hack, I can only do what I can do, sometimes that less and sometimes more, but it's always adequate.

I think it's probably less about my goals and more about giving away my power. Putting other people's intentions for me ahead of my own. Trying to live according to other people's standards, even when I'm not entirely sure what those are. I've been doing it my whole life but only recently realized the full impact of it. I think if I can get out of that habit my whole life will open up before me. It's not even a habit at this point so much as a personality trait, I've been doing it so long. I don't have my own standards, I've been living by other people's for so long.

Is this what middle age is about? Finding out about yourself? Throwing off the mantle your parents and husband and friends and in-laws set on your shoulders in the first half of your life? If so, no wonder it causes crises, because I'm just about ready to tear off that mantle, stand naked if necessary before I wear someone else's mantle ever again.

It would be good if I could find a way to do that without bothering anyone.

{ 6 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. At some point you'll stop worry about bothering other people, too. I mean, there's only so much one person can take, and eventually self-preservation must prevail.

    As for the failure feeling -- boy, can I ever relate. If you find a cure let me know. Not sure yours will be the same as mine -- though we share that feeling for those reasons in common -- but it's a start!

    You're not a failure, or a bother. Not to me. Not now, not ever.

  2. I imagine that throwing off a mantle will bother anyone who helped put that first mantle on. But hey, if they love you, they ought to be able to handle it.

    Let's see--you've got a lot in this post. Okay, I never feel I've done enough in the right amount of time. I could always have done more. I hate that feeling but don't know how to stop it.

    And when I was young, I thought that I'd have myself better figured out by 40. Or that I'd care less what people thought. That I'd have more confidence. None of this has turned out to be the case. What is middle-age about? Hell if I know.

    Having standards set by others is not necessarily bad. Sometimes they are helpful. Sometimes they are weights around your neck. It is hard to tell the difference.

    And last, I like people's dreams--but I've heard that saying too and I've stopped telling people dreams--unless that person happens to be in them.

    Go see how far you can throw that mantle.

  3. I try not to go too nuts over my lack of writing production. I am not a productive writer and likely never will be. Too distractable, too tied to the 'need to fail' or the 'inner editor who says it's all crap, crap crap' or whatever. Instead, I am doing things that I can succeed at finishing, which is to say I've shifted focus to short stories. And I've kept my goals low, as in a couple stories a year.

    I have to be in teh mood to read about other people's dreams, but I can find them interesting, too. Since I wake to an alarm most of the time I forget to jot down my dreams, but I used to keep a detailed dream journal when I was in college, and if you remind yourself to recall your dreams, you can get really good at recalling many details. I used to amaze myself. Now what I recall is a big blobby blur with a general theme or visual attached, lol.

    But I constantly dream I find myself back in the military again, particularly going through basic training again after a long hiatus and me worrying that I'll be found out as a fake or unable to keep the pace physically. And I always seem to be running barefoot, and I prefer it that way...

  4. Yes, throw off those mantles! I bet you'll find that your're not naked, at least in a vulnerable and exposed kind of way- jsut at home in your own skin.

    These days my writing time isn't about how much I "should" write- it's just plain physical. When I was younger I wrote until I dropped, and it took me along time to reach that point. Now I'm good for much less than that, but I'm more in tune with when my body needs to stop. I also set the bar for myself somewhat low, at least compared to what I used to churn out: 500 words at a sitting. (it seemed like the only way to survive the marathon of writing a novel). So when I meet or surpass that, I feel good about how much I've done. And those times when I hit less that 500, I push it. It all seems to even out in the end. And Marta, I have to say I didn't start really feeling the middle age thing until this year, when I turned 49 and headed down the course into fifty, but now I'm actually finding myself at home in it.

  5. I think dreams are interesting, and I like trying to figure them out. My opinion is, if I can remember it, it must mean something.

    I think taking it easy on yourself for not meeting your writerly goals is a good thing. And here's my permission too - it's okay to readjust the bar! :D

    As for mantles - here's what I think - we don' need no stinking mantles! Off with their ... uh, fabrics!

    I love you as you are. Without mantles or writerly goals. Remember that. :)

  6. What you said about how you set yourself up to feeling like a writing failure: thats where I am right now. I know im being too hard on myself, but that isnt making it any easier for me to get writing.


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