Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Radical Departure: The Home Stretch

© 2011 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

I have issues with completion. The psychological roots of this problem are clear to me, but thankfully, they don’t apply to every aspect of my life. I’ve managed to finish college and a three-decade government career. I’ve tied up any loose ends left dangling in almost every one of my relationships. However, there are certain things that have been difficult for me to finish. Getting a full-length book on the market is one of them, yet it has been a huge goal for most of my life. The Crystal Ball will be the first time I do it—thus, the publication of this humorous mystery will represent a monumental personal milestone. (There’s an irony since it was long a mystery to me why I couldn’t pull it off.)

Like nearly everything else in life, my paralysis in owning my destiny as an author came from an emotional logjam from my personal Chironic wounding. The details belong in a counselor’s office, where I have repeated them enough times; I’m sick of them. To spare you both the inappropriate crossing of that boundary and the melodramatic details, I’ll share just one of many “messages” I internalized—the one I consider the most factual and the least emotionally sticky—behind why I have sabotaged myself for years.

Quite literally, I was “held back” from being born. My mother’s personal physician wasn’t on the premises, and the hospital staff wanted her to hold off till he could get there.

What a revelation when I found my birth mom and learned this bit of personal history. Of course, the message my psyche took in was to hold myself back, to hold off giving birth to myself. I cannot separate being a writer from who I am. Once you start writing books, you’re really “out there,” as far from the figurative, protective womb as I can imagine. My other core issues, sometimes still stumbling blocks, are closely related by theme.

Given this psychological set-up, the “home stretch” is a dangerous place for me, the one where I am most likely to trip myself up or create something, consciously or “un,” that will do it for me. That’s because it’s the last time I can bail.

Here I sit with only one chapter left to write and a week to go until my November 22 deadline. I am watching myself like a hawk for any signs of self-sabotage. Entering the St. Martin’s Press First Mystery contest was not only a swift kick in the seat of the pants to encourage me to take the leap I’ve been postponing most of my life; doing it in community, sharing the process, makes me responsible, not only to myself, but to others to finish it.

Thanks for being there for me! Your support goes deep. My five years combined of blogging on Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights and The Radical Virgo have helped me, post by post, to put myself out there as a writer. This blog, in particular, has gotten me out of training wheels and into writing three e-books. It has given me the courage and self-confidence to make the final leap to full-fledged author. My work has been so well-received here; the only person left to conquer is me and my residual fears. Blogging has also been a real training ground for the task at hand. When I’ve felt overwhelmed and questioned my ability to crank out my manuscript in time, I told myself, It’s just like writing 25 blog posts. You can do it in your sleep.

Next week, I plan to tell you the book is in the mail. With that, I’ll explain my next steps. I’d like to close this week’s update with an overview of what I’ve learned on my way to becoming a writer. That “school” has intensified since I retired from my civil service job. Wisdom alert! The following anecdote might also contain some great advice for baby boomers getting ready to retire or who have done so recently.

When I left government service after more than 31 years at the end of 2005, I couldn’t wait to start my first writing projects. Wow! Now I could tackle all those book ideas. I was as eager as a panting puppy.

The reality? It was like climbing uphill in cement boots to get the smallest thing out of my computer that I’d be willing to send out into the world. I struggled and struggled. It didn’t feel like writer’s block, but I couldn’t pinpoint the malady

Finally, after nine months of this quagmire, the same time it takes for human gestation, it finally dawned on me. All tolled, I had worked for over 37 years straight without much more than a few weeks’ vacation at a stretch. My body was trying to tell me that I needed some serious down time before I headed out to my next career. (Got that, Workgo?)

I retired in December 2005. I gave myself permission around Autumn Equinox 2006 to do nothing for as long as my body and psyche needed it. After only six months by Spring 2007, I was back! That’s when I discovered blogging and the fact that I couldn’t start a new career as CEO—LOL!

Transition is a powerful time of learning and experimentation. I’m not just in the home stretch of writing this book; I’m in the home stretch of a much larger transitionbeing reborn as a writer. I’m doing that Chironic, transmutation thing I talk about. I no longer aspire to be a writer or think of myself as a writer on the side or as an astrologer who writes. I now see myself differently. The culmination of this transition is that, for the first time, I feel like a writer because I know I am a writer.

One of my favorite quotes by Rumi is “Lovers don’t just meet one day. They are in each other all along.”

Writing is my love. We’ve met, and we’re telling the world.


Photo Credit: © Alison Bowden - Fotolia.com


Ruth said...

This post is very inspiring. We all have transitions in life, but few of handle them with such grace and patients as you are handling yours.
I an also in transition but have not yet found the words for what I am transitioning into - you are now a writer, and I, for now, am a seeker of the next me. Good luck with your book!

Joyce Mason said...

Ruth, thanks so much for letting me know this post inspired you. I appreciate the compliment on how I'm handling my transition to writer and your good wishes on my book! Most of all, I love what you said: "I am a seeker of the next me." That could be a mantra for all of us, as we live and learn and grow. That inspires me back, and I'm grateful for it!

Thanks for sharing,