I’ve posted about my word count tracker and daily / monthly / yearly goals in the past, but I haven’t provided an update on that in quite some time… probably because I’m disappointed at the low numbers and slow progress.
Life has been an airplane in severe turbulence for the last two weeks – rapid descents, attempts to climb out of the bumpy ride, moments of radiance above the storm before another cluster of dark clouds obscure everything else.
I know, everyone has results, or excuses–one or the other, rarely both.
My 18-year-old daughter, our oldest child, just got married a week ago. I’m a jumble of equal parts happy celebration and hopeful concern. The Bee heard all our warnings and listened to all our worries. But she remained determined to move forward, and we decided it would be better to stay supportive and connected than to resist and watch her do whatever she pleases without us being a part of her life.
She and her husband just left the island yesterday to head back to the States, where he will probably enlist in the Air Force soon after their return. That’s awesome and provides some certainty of security.
Our first of four leaving the nest is, naturally, a painful but necessary process. Wifey and I are working through the emotions and adapting to a new normal.
As I typed this, I was sitting at the base exchange getting ready to sign a bunch of copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Military Families Edition, in which I am a contributing author. I asked for permission to sign and place an origami bookmark in the two or four copies I expected them to put on the shelves–instead, they decided to order 40 and prepare a display. It’s a cool thought that something of my work will be out there for others to see.
On top of that, they’re crafting plans for a book signing or at least a meet-and-greet with interested customers. As the manager put it, there’s a community connection and an increased value in “I shook this guy’s hand, I talked with the lady who wrote this story.” (There’s another person on Kadena who contributed, so we’re trying to get both of us into the same place at the same time.)
The salespeople in charge of books provided enthusiastic help, placing bookmarks, lining up copies for signatures, and snapping pictures for some eventual publicity. They might even work out a radio spot.
Going from celebrating a wedding, to saying farewell to my daughter and her husband, to experiencing a form of success and publicity as a writer–it’s more chaos than a kindergarten class high on candy and Kool-Aid.
A couple days ago, I drove the newlyweds out to a shopping area so they could get some Indian take-out (my daughter’s last chance to eat at her favorite restaurant on Okinawa) and Japanese candy for relatives in the States. “I’ll just hang out at Starbucks while you do your shopping,” I told them. After all, that writing word count was still looking pretty bleak.
“You could come with us to the candy store when we’re waiting for the food,” she suggested.
It hit me that pretty soon I’ll have all kinds of time to sit in coffee shops, alone with my writing. I wouldn’t get another such opportunity to have time with my daughter for… well, we’ll see how long it ends up being.
Word counts are a tool, a motivational aid meant to track progress toward the overall goal of completed writing projects. But the word count isn’t the be-all/end-all of writing, and writing isn’t everything there is to life. (It hurts a little to type that.)
What matters more is the conscious choice about what I’m doing with my time. Word counts can help reveal when my efforts are slipping or when I’m succeeding, but sometimes it’s okay to see that string of zeros. Other things are more important.