When the theme of limits was chosen for this month, I groaned. I know I'm supposed to be all happy and upbeat and rah-rah: there are no limits, you can do anything you put your mind to, you just have to believe. Reality TV has made an industry out of this idea. Just don't give up; eventually, someone will see your gift.
And hey, it worked for me. From the time I submitted my first novel to the time Finding Kate got published I spent more than 20 years writing, getting rejections, learning the craft, doing more writing and getting more rejections. I could have given up (and for a while I kind of did, flitting between projects for several years). Getting Kate published took over 5 years all by itself.
So, yes, believing in your dream is important, but let's also acknowledge that it's exhausting to keep believing all the time. "You can do it if you just believe!" has its limits as an effective strategy. Acknowledge that. Give yourself a break from time to time.
As a person with lots of things going well, I know that most of my limits are self-imposed. Take my latest accomplishment, for instance. In December, I sent my latest MS off to my editor. Hooray, right? I should be proud and happy.
Mostly I'm feeling relieved and guilty: relieved because it's finally done, and guilty because it wasn't done sooner. I missed several self-imposed deadlines along the way, and I feel terrible about that. Sure, I was busy with my teaching obligations and shifting into the demands of a new job, but there were plenty of times when I lacked the self-discipline to make sure that the work got done when it needed to.
When it came time to write this blog post, I asked one of my writing group buddies for help. He said, "What if there were no limits?" I wanted to laugh. And maybe cry a little. So much of my life has been bounded by my perception of my own limitations: the things I can't do, or shouldn't do, or won't be allowed to do.
So what I'd like to do this year, as I begin my next novel, is allow myself to think without limits. What if, for this novel, I took baby steps towards thinking that my writing is a valuable and important part of my life? What if I demanded time for writing and took it seriously, professionally?
I'll be honest with you, just writing those words feels like a joke. That right there, those are my limits.
Any advice? Thanks for listening.