You may be wondering why there has been nothing but radio silence from my end for the last few days. Well, here’s my chance to tell my story.
Some of you who have followed me on Twitter would know that I was writing a story for a project that got me excited for a whole month. It was an exciting opportunity, and I tweeted about it actively while I was writing. When the opportunity came to publish, I was ready to take it seriously: lining up an editor, looking for cover illustrators, all that jazz.
Then the deadline came… and it came as a shock.
There was no way I could get my work done as perfectly as possible for that deadline. I already have enough deadlines as it is as a graduate student – why should I complicate it further by forcing myself to turn in rushed product as a writer? Don’t get me wrong, I loved that story a lot and I worked with some amazing beta readers to help me polish it. But a polished product is a polished product, and I couldn’t do it while working on my academic deadlines at the same time.
I won’t deny that I was angry and sad for a long time, and I probably depressed the hell out of my friends while I vented and ranted about the unfairness of it all. Then one day, I woke up, and I realized that what I had in my hands was an answered prayer.
For the longest time – for as long as I’ve been writing – I’ve been driven by the need to have my work be validated and recognized by others. I’m not going to lie, it’s a personality flaw, but it’s a flaw that has fueled my career, and it has brought me to the point where I was able to get myself self-published. For that I will be grateful, and nothing will be able to take that away from me.
What I didn’t do was stop and think.
People did look up to me as a published writer, but I was always at my laptop thinking more, more, more – more readers, more legitimacy, more recognition. My writing was my lifeline, after all, and yet I was honestly not as happy as a writer as I was when I was still writing. I wanted to be part of the table with the popular ones, yet at the same time I still didn’t belong there because I didn’t work hard enough.
In my own way, I became resentful.
So when the time came, and I had to choose, I ended up choosing my academics over my writing, even though I knew that it was going to be more stressful. Why? Because it was the only way for me to get out of my own way.
I’m not going to go all Frozen on all of you and sing let it go, let it go,because that would be a cliche. Nor will I tell you that this is my way of finding my genuine self, because this isn’t the right time to be touchy-feely about that sort of thing. What I can say, however, was that I had a better offer for my time on the academic side – and that offer was something that couldn’t be put off for too long.
As my friend Scribeymom recently said to me, deadlines are only for papers and journalists. And the academic paper that I had to write was an opportunity that may never come my way again.
Sometimes we have to accept that the right opportunity will come at the right time, on better terms and conditions. Sometimes we have to accept the fact that we have to choose the path that leads to the least amount of heartbreak, because we’ll always get our hearts broken no matter where we go. This is not to say that we should give up what we love altogether; come to think about it, it should strengthen our resolve, give us the chance to pick up where we left off and start over again. But sometimes we have to admit that our fears come from wanting too much and not giving enough.
Sometimes all it takes is to get out of your own way.