I confess that I am a stubborn person. I think that writers have to be because we so rarely get the affirmation that an ordinary person might need to continue pursuing a task. If I wrote based on acceptances alone, I wouldn’t write very much at all; instead, I write because it is part of who I am.
This stubbornness has a shadow-side which I am only now learning to acknowledge. Because I am single-minded, I can be mulish and ignore the very real evidence that something I’ve committed to is wrong for me. I tend to stick out situations that many folks would abandon. Yet, how to balance this very sharp sword? The continuum between mulishness and flight in the face of failure is very long indeed.
For the next month, I am working with my students on a large conference. There are myriad details and frankly, it’s been frustrating in the extreme to keep track of everything and to help the students shoulder much of the responsibility (without letting it crush them). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought to myself, “You should have just said no when the kids came to you with this idea.” But I look forward to the moments when we are in the trenches and the students are receiving accolades for all their hard work. At that point, I know that all of this stress and drama will have been worth it – that my students will be more confident and better leaders because of it.
I apply the same “long view” thinking to my own writing and the life decisions that I am rapidly facing. What will happen when I am no longer wearing my “teacher face”? Who will I be then? What will my writing become when I can focus upon it? At some point, I wrote down a little piece of advice that is helping me every day:
First, ask yourself what you like. Second, try to go in that direction.
Oh yes, I like to write, to read, to make things with my hands. I like to garden and cook and weave. I like alone time to create and together time to celebrate. A community to share things with and a place in the natural world that is wide and stunning. I think that I can look at this list like a map that I confess is heading in directions I have never imagined. But it is my map, and my life, and perhaps my stubbornness in following my own compass will bring me someplace inspired.