I think too much.
Overanalyze, over-think, noodle too long.
My dad observed this in me as a child. He said my brain was always whirring.
I believe this accounts for my difficulty sleeping.
When I try to sleep, I just keep thinking. Not fretting or worrying, just thinking.
Dreaming small dreams, processing big ideas.
I have always over-thought the writing process.
Let me back up for the rest of the story.
The same aforementioned Dad was a simple man who worked a simple job to support his family. In his off hours, his imagination took flight. He crafted stories set in his native Ireland, with characters roughly resembling family members. They were lush and full of wit.
I thank him for giving me the vision to write. I do believe it sustained him, as it now sustains me.
As a child, I imitated his practice. I wrote short stories that I precociously submitted to The New Yorker and The Atlantic and such. Some of the editors were quite kind and encouraged me to keep writing. One in particular told me to live life fully because that was the stuff from which my best writing would spring.
Writing got put on the shelf for many years. Undergraduate school, then law school served to suck creativity out of my brain. But an unavoidable longing remained. The gift of full-time motherhood allowed me to begin to express that longing to communicate.
My early years of mothering were frustrating and frightening. I didn’t know how to handle the intense levels of love and irritation that cycled through my days. Some days I thought I would surely go mad!
Then I remembered my dad, taking fountain pen to notebook paper and using his bits of remaining energy from the day to craft something lovely. I never had the luxury of silence to sit at a desk with a fountain pen (although I often use them), so I started to carry a clipboard with me wherever I went. Loaded with a stack of notebook paper, it slid comfortably into the side of my diaper bag.
It all started to flow out of me. Whether I was waiting in a parking lot, or picking kids up from ballet, I began to fill pages on that clipboard with ideas, fears and hopes. Encouraged by publishers, I pushed out seven books into the Christian marketplace is the span of a few years. None was a bestseller, but readers have thanked me for speaking into their lives.
Then I fell and I couldn’t get up. My husband’s cancer and some of the challenges my children faced froze the flow. The emotional energy to simply endure these dark days exhausted me.
I picked the pen back up and began to express my pain over these locust years. No one will ever read these, but the process brought healing. With my heart on the mend and my faith bolstered, I press on.
As I look at what I will write in this 3rd act of my three-act life, I once again over-think things. I sign up for blogging courses and fret over building a mailing list and monetizing my website. These ideas intrigue me – who doesn’t want to make money? – but they don’t make my heart leap. It smacks of manipulation and smarminess.
So I will return to the dreams of my father. Simply pouring out my heart, from one imperfect person to another, for the simple joy of it. I hope it will bless you. That will be my measure of success.
My fountain pens are filled and fresh paper awaits me.