I used to work in a public school. The two libraries I helped oversee served 5th graders through seniors, and I often ended up in the building way past the hours that I stopped getting paid. There's always something going on in a school, and basketballs bouncing in a gym have a way of calling to the ex-athlete, as does the ring of softballs hitting aluminum bats.
I don't get a chance to play much of anything anymore, taking the kayak out in the spring and hitting the gym three times a week is how I get my exercise now. But I'm often drawn into school sporting events, and while I know that the past is golden, I see some definite differences from the proverbial way things used to be.
I see the parents of fifth graders keeping stats in the bleachers, kids being pulled aside after games by coaches and parents alike (sometimes with a referee in tow for official backup) about what they did or didn't do, and how they can improve. I see adults talking about college admissions, scouts, percentages, injuries hurting playing time, and having conversations more suited to ESPN than a gym with fading paint.
Kid's faces are intense, and don't get me wrong - I think that's awesome. I know exactly how it goes in the moment, when a turnover under your hands feels like the end of the world, when sliding into home and winning the game could very well be the best thing that ever happened to you. Yeah, that's all true.
But sometimes I wonder if anyone out there is having fun anymore. Or anyone in the bleachers is either, for that matter.
Writing often feels the same way. I spent ten years receiving rejections for books that I was certain were Pulitzer material (they're not, for proof hit up my hashtag #BadFirstNovel). I was writing with visions in my head of awards, fame, and yes, money (that's a whole other post).
What I wasn't doing was writing because I loved it. I was writing because I was intent on making it my everything, and proving to myself and the world how freaking awesome I was.
Reality check #1 - I just wasn't.
Reality check #2 - That's partly because there was no heart in my writing.
After ten years of failing, I gave up. I truly did just let it go for a few years. I came back with a recharge and the thought that maybe I should try writing YA, since I had just started working in a high school. I came up with an idea I loved. A fun idea, nothing that was going to land me awards or even a sale, but something fun. Something I liked.
And I wrote it.
And while it didn't garner representation or achieve publication, I rediscovered the enjoyment of writing. Which prompted me to write Not A Drop to Drink, which opened up a whole new chapter of my life.
So if you're mired in your stats, or singing sad misereres over the dusty bones of the novel you've been rehashing forever, try to remember why you started doing this in the first place. And then maybe have some fun with it.