I tried to put it into words in a conversation last night with my best friend: "It's as if everything else has to fall away so that I am forced to do what I've been avoiding, so that I'm forced to do what I have to do."
That's as eloquent as I could be but she understood: The writing is done because the teaching wants attention. As long as I can justify writing a book or working on an article, I will not pursue teaching opportunities, and honestly, I want to. And I need to.
I never thought, after the last fourteen years, that I would reach a point where I wouldn't be writing anymore. But I'm tired of my freelance life; I'm tired of juggling three jobs that don't provide a routine or financial stability. The pandemic, and the new focus on Indigenous writers and writers of colour, has shrunk publishing, leaving little or no room for the gentle musings of a white, middle class, middle-aged woman. It's sad that my writing is better than it ever has been, but it's still not good enough.
This happens. A great hockey player gets hurt and can no longer play; what does he do with the rest of his life? A famous soprano develops nodes on her vocal chords; what does she do with the rest of her life? A brain surgeon hurts her dominant hand in a car accident; what does she do with the rest of her life?
You get my drift.
Someone is always letting go of a dream, of a goal, a plan, a relationship, a future they'd hoped for, counted on, really, really wanted.
Right now, I have five books on submission.
Five. In four different genres. That's incredible. Incredibly stupid, perhaps. It's just me doing what I've always done: not putting my eggs in one basket, throwing a lot of rocks up into a tree to see what I knock down, trying to keep my options open. If no one wants my non-fiction, why not try fiction? If no one wants my novel, maybe they'd want a children's book? People seem to like my spiritual writing so let's pitch that book. It doesn't matter, as long as I'm writing.
Then again, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result.
I've run out of options, and I've run out of hope. That's why I've shifted to curiousity. Hope is attached to something - a certain book I want to publish, a particular class I'd really like to teach - and that hope can be dashed. But curiousity has no attachment; curiousity allows me to try, apply, reply, to see what happens, and be happy when it does, whatever it is. It's different, I promise - hope versus curiousity. The non-attachment is important; it frees me up to let go of writing, let go of expectations, and lets me try anything. Curiousity gives me confidence, whereas hope makes me anxious.
Trust me, I know what the opposite of hope is and it's not a happy place. So I'm curious about what is going to happen next.
I'm still writing, of course, but there's no pressure on it. It's contest season so there are four essays to submit to four competitions; likely the last year I'll do this. There's a novel I'm going to work on but I'm not thinking about getting it published; it's just to keep me writing, it's just to say I finally finished it.
Being adrift -- drifting like snowflakes in the wind -- piling up and melting away -- is not so bad. I'm curious what I'll end up doing. I'm confident I'll end up doing something interesting. I realized the other day, I've always done interesting things, I just didn't realize it. Didn't appreciate the opportunities I was given because I had certain ideas about my life and my goals locked down -- which didn't allow me to see better ideas.
What am I going to do with the rest of my life? I don't know. For the first time, I'm not concerned. I'm not even scared -- and I should be! I really should be! That's the power of curiousity: Something better will come along, and now I'm ready to welcome it, whatever it is.