Why, How, What.

I feel lost. Not just normal lost. Lost in a pitch-black chasm with schisms in the walls. I feel like I’m supposed to know exactly which schism leads to a path upwards; a path that will lead me out of this darkness, but I keep stumbling in the blackness regardless of my best efforts. I’m not afraid of the dark. I’m frustrated by it.

Mom and I watched a couple of TED talks by Simon Sinek. In the second one, he discussed what makes “authorities” (people with a plan) versus people/corporations who “lead” (people with a passion). The difference between the two came down one simple idea: do people know why you do what you do? Don’t tell them what you do. Tell them why you do it.

The discussion got me thinking, of course. I’ve been massively dissatisfied with the trajectory of my life for some time now, so I started examining my motives. Why am I in this job? Why am I writing? Do I have a sense of purpose anymore? Where did my passion go?

Mr. Sinek showed a three-step circular model. The outer shell of the model was What. The middle ring was How. The bulls-eye was Why.

Let’s apply that to my job. What I do: I work in IT, monitoring printer software and configuring applications. How I do it: I answer emails and mess around with a couple of computer programs. Why I do it: Because it’s my job and I’d like to be debt free by the time I’m 28.

Not a whole lot of passion there, and money has always been my least favorite motivator. I swore to myself I would never keep a job just for the money, but here I am. I’m not seeing many options, though.

Let’s look at my last job. What I did: I worked in customer service, helping airport agents get you on the plane. How I did it: answering phone calls, engaging with airport agents, and puzzling my way through a quirky reservations system. Why I did it: Because I love customer service and figuring out the ins and outs of SABRE was a blast.

The “whats” and “hows” aren’t all that different in practice, but the “whys” are eons apart.

Finally, let’s look at writing. What I do: I write new adult fiction. How I do it: By sitting down at a computer every day and fighting to put the scenes in my head into words. Why I do it: Because in the end, I want to create a world that inspires people to write, a world that inspires imaginations.

LoveInspire. Those are passionate words. So how do I find passion in where I am currently? I don’t know yet. I’m switching shifts in about a week. Maybe I’ll find a new answer to why I do what I do. If not, here’s to hoping that my writing will become something I can do to sustain myself, both mentally and financially.

I highly recommend you click the link above and watch Mr. Sinek’s TED talks, particularly if you’re any sort of leadership role. His perspective has sent me into meditation-mode for a couple of days now.

But in the end, for me it all circles back to one thing: I’m tired of feeling lost.

Start A Conversation

What is today? Wednesday? Hrm.

You know, back when I started this blog it was part of a class assignment. We had to write three times a week, so I did Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I don’t think I’ve done that in at least a year and a half. I wish I could promise getting back into that rhythm, but I’ve learned not to make promises I can’t keep.

(You know who else makes terrible promises? Groupon sellers. That’s another rant somewhere down the line.)

Part of my frustration with keeping up a blog is the interactive side of it. When I started, my classmates were required to comment and suddenly there was an interactive community. We were having conversations with people we otherwise would have stayed several seats away from in the classroom. For the most part, those students I connected with have disappeared from the WordPress world and I’ve never been able to cultivate that sort of community with people who weren’t getting graded.

Please don’t take this as whining. This has been a great platform to be able to go and meet other writers/mental health advocates/awesome people. It’s just been frustrating to write and feel like my words are falling into the abyss. It concerns me because I don’t want that to happen with my book, and I think that’s what scares me more than anything. I’ve poured so much passion into writing that I don’t want it to be for nothing. (I’m not saying I need it to reach the NYT Bestsellers List, but if it could cover the moving expenses from my stint in Seattle, that’d be awesome. That would mean people are actually reading what I wrote.)

What about you guys? Anything frustrating you? For my writers, does your social media presence hearten/dishearten you with regard to your future success? For my mental health peeps, how has the conversation on your blogs helped/hurt your growth as relates to anxiety and/or depression?

(Brett Eldredge’s “You Can’t Stop Me” just came on. Thanks for the mood boost, Brett.)

Edit: If you’re reading this in 2025, you’re still welcome to comment on this or any other post. Like I said, this is about starting a conversation. There’s no time limit on when that can happen. Although, I imagine if you’re commenting around 2091, it might be my grandkids responding since I’ll be a centurion centenarian (who the hell knew that was even a word?).

Jealousy v. Success

This question has been posed twice in the last week: What will I do if one of my friends gets published before I do?

The honest-to-God truth is that I’ll be fine. I’ll even be happy for them.

This sounds like I’m giving the “right” answer rather than the “honest” answer. My mother and I had a pretty lengthy discussion where she didn’t believe me at first, but I convinced her in the end.

Here’s the deal: I am friends with amazing, talented people who are all working towards the same goal. We all want to be authors. We all have a need to share our philosophies with the world. We’re all weird, and we’ve all taken turns being “the next one” who might get published.

I’ve worked for this for 12 years, rewriting the same story over and over and over. One of my friends has been piddling around with a couple of ideas for about 10 years and finally settled on one focus a couple of years back, but hasn’t put a single word on paper yet. What if he gets published two years from now and I have to wait another five? That’s okay.

Patience is a magical virtue that some people really can’t grasp. One colleague ripped into me about not chasing my dreams–“You’re not going to get published if you don’t start working toward it.” I waited for her to let it all out (took approximately 10 minutes; that was a test of patience right there) before I told her that I had in fact finished the novel twice and rewritten it because of feedback gained from others. I had moved 1500 miles to study my other settings. I had gotten specific jobs and studied specific disciplines just to improve my writing. She didn’t realize how thoroughly my 12 years had been dedicated to this craft because she can’t grasp the concept of patience.

That patience is why I’ll be okay. I might get upset for a minute, an hour, a day, but in the end it doesn’t matter. Someone else’s success doesn’t detract from mine. Hell, if one of one my friends moves forward faster than I do, he can start dropping my name.

I believe in a world built on “my success is your success and your success is my success.” I don’t adhere to an “I deserve this more than that other person” mentality–anymore. I did for a long time and it got me nowhere. It got me further from Nowhere; I actually went backwards. It took me about six years to pull my head out of my ass and see how immature I was being.

If you put in the work, you deserve success. It’s not up to me to decide who gets there first.

Brief Update

The briefest of brief updates:

1) There’s no way it’s been a month since I last posted. I’ll remedy that here soon.

2) I just sent out my first queries in years so I’m a tad nauseous and slightly exhilarated, which is converging in this massive migraine.

Dear agents, welcome to my humble abode. The “VHAMA” page listed under the “Writing” tab above will give you more of an idea about the novel I just inundated your inboxes with. The rest of the blog is merely a chance to see that I’m clinically nuts.

I’m going to go hunt some ibuprofen and tea. See you soon, friends.

 

Manuscript = Done.

Hi, guys. It’s been a bit since we last spoke. I’ve been distracted–extremely distracted–between work and writing. The new job is going frighteningly well. I’m a little worried about it, to be honest. Writing, well . . . writing has been a little exhilarating.

I swore to myself a few months back that wherever I happened to be on May 24th would be where the novel ended. I kept that promise and finished the manuscript on May 27th, with an ending that surprised even me. I didn’t intend to leave my readers conflicted about my primary spy’s true allegiance, but it made for a good place to stop.

The novel is currently in the hands of three trusted friends, one of whom already finished the read-through and demanded I finish the second book ASAP. Taylor, my dear brother, talked about the first half of the novel for about half an hour without pause, which also made me happy. They give me hope that I’m not chasing an empty dream.

I’ll be back soon, ideally with all three reviews in hand. May was an extremely stressful month which started with the daunting task of finding toothpaste that doesn’t contain peppermint. Do you know how nearly impossible that is? I’m currently using children’s strawberry-flavored toothpaste and praying the redness on my face from years of peppermint exposure fades.

Ttyl.