26 May 2015

Still Searching After All These Years

For the past six months or so I've been thinking a lot about my time left on this earth and how I want to spend it. I wouldn't say I'm in the midst of a mid-life crisis because, frankly, I doubt I'll live to be 100, plus it's hard for me to recognize an actual crisis when my daily life already buzzes with near constant elevated-threat-levels of stress.

So I've been searching. Searching for motivation, examining my choices, trying to reconcile why I think I'm here with what I want to accomplish. Trying to find the soft spot between acceptance and failure.

This is nothing new. My mother always said my favorite word was "why," which I hoped was a comment on my inquisitive nature but was, more likely, a belligerent stall tactic. Mine is a restless addict brain served with a side of creativity, so for most of my life I've been struggling to strike a clear path through the world. I've had jobs, ideas for jobs, exciting opportunities even, but most of those plans have derailed or, more accurately, sputtered and succumbed to the realities of my life.

So I've been examining. Examining my ideas of success, questioning my self-perception, deconstructing the myths of happiness. Trying to be at peace with who I really am, or think I am, anyway.

This is not easy. It's not that all this reflection is revealing a side of my personality I'd rather not hang with, but rather that it's forced me to get to the core of things. And what I've learned is that the gooey center of my world is...small.

This mundane realization has been a little soul-shattering because my restless/creative addict brain really thought I was destined for greatness. And with that in mind, I've set out on most of my recent endeavors. But the truth is, I'm not that spectacular. There are better writers, more creative artists, even superior mothers. That's not to say there hasn't been interest in my writing. Last November an editor asked for my full manuscript, and the request filled me with dread. Not because the manuscript isn't worthy, but because the thought of  revising it again and then committing to produce MORE BOOKS made me nauseous. I even asked the kids for their help.

"Boys, I'm going to have to really concentrate on editing if I want my book published. Can you help me by doing what I ask, like going to school, getting your homework done without arguing, and helping around the house?"

One, Three, and Four: "No problem. We've got this, Mom."

Five: "Sorry. No guarantees."

Even though his answer made me chafe against the yolk of motherhood, I wasn't even angry. These past two years have been really difficult and I've tried, to the best of my ability, to not completely lose my mind. Except for a few questionable decisions, I think I've succeeded mostly because Four and Five really needed me. I have, quite literally, saved their lives. There's honor in that.

"Of course there is, Megan!" so say you all.

Well, it took me a while to realize it, to stop comparing my success, to think about my wins in individual family units. It's helped me focus on what's most important to me right now and what I've been great at for the past 27 years: not doing drugs, being married, and raising kids. And, in the only version of trickle-down theory that works, this approach has pretty far-reaching implications. Entire generations of people will be affected by my decision to not do anything else! 

It's been liberating to contemplate getting small (shout-out to Steve Martin), shedding the ideas and concrete clutter of a life lived mostly in my own mind. But, as is my way, now I want everything to be smaller: my obligations, my possessions, my house. I want to flee social media, shed friends, remove relatives.  I want to be Little House in the Big Woods small (shout out to Laura Ingalls Wilder), to be free of all distractions on my new and narrow byway!

I want to be BOLD in my smallness.

The wrinkle in my plan to be entirely self-contained is that it's, well, a little self-centered. As much as I want to chuck ballast into the sea and sail off for an island, there are more than a few landlubbers on board hoping my latest cruise is really just a three-hour tour. What I think is freeing they might consider isolationist. It's a thin line between "lone" and "alone," and I'm not sure I want to walk it.

Sigh. I think I'm still searching.


  1. Megan, what a great, thoughtful post and oh, my, how I identify with the desire...the need to be small. I've written and published four books in the last three years and yet, although I do believe I'm a great writer, I know I'm not going to be a huge success as an author. I'm not bold enough or maybe narcissistic enough to plaster myself all over social media and frankly, fleeing it sounds damn good to me. I'm going to stay with you on this, so keep us posted, okay? <>

  2. Great post, Megan, and I've had many of the same thoughts. It was really hard to give up my dream of writing a great novel, but when I did, the main thing I felt was RELIEF. Hugs to you and your crew and you never know how you'll be able to recreate yourself once your kids are older (something I'm struggling through myself right now). Totally get your desire to escape from social media, but check back in when you can and let us know what's going on.

  3. I suspected I was going through a midlife crisis, so I started (of course) googling it. Read the following article--it seems to be a very common phase, including the comparing yourself to others, course correcting, looking at goals achieved and not achieved, feeling like you haven't done enough etc. ...I find comfort in being Typical sometimes, lol. So I've embraced my MLC. I'm not happy, but I've accepted it as normal. ;-)


    Your conclusions sound very interesting! So as the ladies above said--will be interested to hear how you go on. And now I leave you with Dante's very poetic description of the MLC:

    Midway upon the journey of our life
    I found myself within a forest dark,
    For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
    Ah me! how hard a thing it is to say
    What was this forest savage, rough, and stern,
    Which in the very thought renews the fear.

    Take care. :-) xxoo

  4. I can relate. I was forced to leave the ranch and speak to humans not of my immediate family today. First time since my plane from Dallas touched down after RT, which was a week ago Saturday. So you could say I've been keeping my world as small as possible.

    And here's the thing I learned at RT. Yeah, I got a book published. Yeah, I've got a contract for more. But when I stood on the edge of a massive ballroom where SEVEN HUNDRED writers are signing books and at least a few dozen of them are perpetual residents of bestsellers lists....yeah, baby, I be SMALL. And I can live with that. Most of the time.

  5. I've always admired you for your deep insights. What you're going through in questioning your path in life is normal. I read Deepak Chopra's book, The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, some years ago, and that helped me to understand me a lot better. I was in a very good place.
    A few years later, I started publishing books and got on that whirlwind track of writing, editing, publishing, comparing, monitoring, searching numbers, yakking away on social media, and I hit a brick wall after my sixth book. I had this understanding that most of what I was doing was meaningless. I knew I'd never achieve greatness. I'd probably never hit a bestseller list, or make any money off my books, and I questioned why I continued. I finally understood and accepted that what my writing did for me was please me. There is no need to compete. Simple as that. If I never published another book I'd still keep on entertaining myself with my stories.
    Keep on digging for answers. I'm sure you'll find them. I'm sure you will reach a point where you say this is what I do. I like when I do it. I'm happy to do it just for me.

  6. What brilliant followers and friends you have! Everything above me is insightful and true.

    I'm "questioning and transitioning" right now, too. We'll see where we land, hopefully it will be near each other.

  7. KarenB27.5.15

    I'm laughing in that rueful kind of way when it's funny but not but oh so relatable. Excellent comments and let me know if you figure it out because maybe your conclusion will help inform mine, if I ever get one.

  8. There will always be more creative artists and better writers. And yes, there are probably better mothers, but, I'd venture, not many.

    That said, you do what you have to do to take care of yourself. If that means cutting out online friends, then I will miss you and I will be sad. But I will also be happy because you are content, or at least on your way to it.

    Remember it's more than okay to write for yourself without publishing as a goal. Remember you deserve peace and happiness. Remember we love you.

    Take care of you.

  9. What everybody (everyBetty) said. I'm having something of a crisis myself, in part because I have finally achieved a measure of success as a writer (a novella and 2 books out last year, a contract for a novella and 3 more books, plus a revised version of an older book for next year) and well, I'm not enjoying it much. Dammit.

    Don't get me wrong--I'm grateful for whatever success I'm having, and in theory, for any to come. And I'm not comparing myself to anyone, because that way lies madness. Just trying to be the best Me I can be, as a writer and otherwise.

    But holy crap, the pressure! Publishing these days is insane. I already had to say on the current contract, "I can't possibly meet these deadlines and give you anything good." And frankly, I should have pushed them out even further. Next time. I'm learning, I hope. But I need to make space for a real life and healthy patterns (more exercise, more sleep, you know the drill). I'm learning my own limits I guess. We'll see how it goes.

    In the meanwhile, hugs and love to you and everyone else. Looks like we're all in the same boat. Can't wait to give you that hug in person at RWA in July.

  10. Thank you, everyone, for your comments! I was looking at the history of the blog and saw the post tallies. It's a quick glimpse into what my life looked like these past few years-SUPER BUSY. And even though it wasn't busy in any way I would have hoped, it was the truth of my life. And that truth is what's pushed me to this point.

    So, I don't think I want to completely drop off the face of the earth-I WOULD REALLY MISS YOU GUYS-but I do have to be realistic in what I can and want to accomplish. The WANT is the hard part. Robena and Delia struck a chord. I enjoy writing. But I don't feel COMPELLED to write. There aren't stories in me demanding their freedom. I actually enjoy writing the blog the most because the stories are easy (it's my life, after all) and I like the challenge of the structure. So maybe that will be my outlet for now.

    All I know is I need LESS of everything else. For now. I always say nothing is forever, and you can always change your mind. Let's see.


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