It shouldn’t be surprising, given that my origins involve being a quiet girl. But this is a very different kind of quiet. Not at all to do with the shyness that characterized my early years.
This is quietness of purpose.
You may have noticed I haven’t been blogging as often. It’s not because I have less to say. In fact, last year, I couldn’t put my finger on why I wasn’t doing the newsletters as often. I called up the usual suspects, like “too busy” or “lacking motivation.”
But none of those old excuses were the reason. I was very busy, and I did sometimes lack motivation. But those things never stopped me before.
The reason was that I needed to be quieter.
The Year Ahead
Last week, I sat down to write out my goals/ideas for 2016. Part of my process involves looking back on my goals of the last few years. Two years ago, heading into 2014, I had this goal of wanting to get my writing out there in a bigger way. I felt that I had important things to say, and I wanted to figure out how to get a bigger audience, how to share my writing more, and ultimately, how to build a platform that would allow me to become a sought-after essayist and thought leader on storytelling.
And then a few things happened. These things did not seem related to anything as they happened. But now I see the picture of it.
One of the things was that my literary agent encouraged me write fiction. In the first breath, I thought she was crazy. In the next breath, I couldn’t wait to try. She’s been working with me on a completed young adult novel, and I’m in the middle of writing a second one. I love how I feel when I’m doing the work (it’s what brought me to the writers’ colony last year). However, I still have much to learn!
Another thing was that I started to feel the smallness of our 1,200 square foot house in a way I hadn’t before. Our kids (a boy and a girl, ages 7 and 5, respectively) share a room. That was fine—up until about a year ago. Bedtime, especially, has become awful. The kids fight and scream and feed on each other and generally act terrible almost every night.
They need their own room—as I always knew they would.
We live in a neighborhood where they are tearing down $150,000 houses and putting up $550,000 houses. We are getting close to being priced out of the neighborhood, if we want to buy a bigger house. It makes more sense to work with what we have, and built a modest addition that will allow us to rethink the bedrooms and my office.
This means I need to make a little bit more money this year. Nearly as soon as I had this realization, some fantastic opportunities for steadier work with content marketing and web site design/development agencies starting appearing. (It always seems like luck when things align, but in truth, I worked to make them appear, by tweaking my brand to talk more to this sector, including making my video about creating extraordinary content).
These opportunities give me the chance to put the things I care about—like storytelling, clarity of language, and starting with why—into practice, and at the same time, learn the best practices for web writing and design in 2016. Web content is a very different world than it was even just a few years ago (in fact, I need to redo my own site very soon).
Between expending my creative energy learning the finer points of writing fiction and navigating the world of today’s content, I’ve gotten . . . quiet. Not because I lack things to say, but because there is a season for everything. There is a time to be humble and quiet and put your head down and work and learn and create—without needing to feel like an expert in any of it.
That’s where I am now. It’s why I used words like steady, persistence, humbleness to describe the 2016 I envision.
I’m not giving up on the idea that I want my work out there in a bigger way. Not at all. I’m simply taking a different path, and putting my energy where I think it will serve me best for now.
The other handy thing about getting quiet is that the less I talk, the more space there is in my head for insights. Of course, my instinct is then to write about those insights—which brings me right back to the world of the talking! It’s a balance. But honestly, it’s quite a lovely problem to have.
So, in 2016, some weeks I’ll be here, some weeks I won’t. Know that I’m never very far away though.
Happy New Year.