Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Art of Letting Go

This year I let go of a lot of things.

My dining room table, for example. Also, I gave away the things that I recorded here, dutifully, for tax purposes. I just now read over the list and realize that I don't miss any of these items...except maybe the glass cheese plate?

A few weeks ago we hosted a party and it would've been nice to have that cheese plate. But oh well. We made do with another serving dish.

Shedding stuff from my house had a weird ripple effect. Once you shine a spotlight on things you've had for years and ask yourself: Do I need this? Do I want it? Really?

You might find that everything, potentially, is a candidate for the recycle bin.

For most of the year I was working on a stubbornly resistant revision. This was a book I had completely revised at least four times and for whatever reason couldn't walk away from and move on to other projects and so decided to tackle it again. There was a certain moment in the process where I broke through, a weird combination of pushing and letting go in which I shed all of my old versions, literally shoving the printed off manuscripts aside and starting on a blank sheet from page one.

But the real breakthrough was letting go of the weight of expectations, the perfectionism to "get it right" this time. I stopped caring about publication. I stopped caring if another human would ever read the story. The book became, instead, my own quest to figure out a puzzle:

What was this story about at the core of it? What was its hold on me in the first place? Why was it so important that I had to keep returning to it over and over again for the past thirteen years?

To answer these questions I had to tunnel into the past, face crap I thought I'd shed years ago, examine it again, and finally finally

cart it off to the metaphorical Goodwill in my brain and let it go.

I wrote the book but haven't found a publishing home for it, which in the past, would've made me frustrated and depressed. But here's a funny thing: I've let go of those feelings and the anxious manic pressure to achieve goals that are beyond my control.

My house is a radically different house from the one I lived in a year ago. I have books on my shelves that I love, pictures on the walls that my husband and I took ourselves. Furniture that he made (Did I ever tell you, faithful blog readers, that my husband is an artist too?)

I've started working on a new novel.

It's a messy draft, with numerous plot holes and inconsistent characters. I haven't been able to figure it out yet. There are no guarantees that when I do, I will be able to sell it. Each morning I head upstairs to my newly arranged office, surrounded by things that I love, and get to work.





6 comments:

  1. I join you, Jody, in getting rid of the clutter in my home, my job, my mind. As I do, I try to eat more greenly, live more healthfully, reminding myself that "a poor nomad is a pure nomad."
    Keith Lindsey

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    1. I love that quote, Keith. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. LOVE that Emerson quote. And I'm totally with you on letting go of goals beyond your own control. Happy New Year, Jody!

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  3. I, too, have been letting go of many things. Slowly, but surely.
    Happy New Year!

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