I have commitment issues.
My wise friend pointed this out over lunch at the sushi place. I was forking my way through a super vegetable roll while rattling on about blogging.
“I’ll blog when I have something to say, and not because the powers-that-be suggest that I blog to attract followers or build a writer’s platform,” I said. “I’ll blog just for the hell of it and okay, maybe I’m taking the middle road, but I don’t know if this whole blogging thing is what I want to do anymore.”
And my friend, carefully placing a slice of pickled ginger on her salmon roll with her chopsticks, said, “What I see is, you start a project and then skid to a stop. You have a problem with commitment.”
I allowed myself to take that in. I resisted the urge to fold my arms, gaze at the corner of the ceiling with a thoughtful frown, and zone out on the live poker-playing event on the overhead television.
Instead, I agreed.
I have a commitment phobia.
From actress to dancer to writer, I reached a tipping point and then slammed on the brakes.
I studied acting and dance, acted and danced on stage, taught others how to act and dance, and then chucked it all to write.
I’ve written first drafts for four-and-a-half novels, and when I started to rewrite the first one, I hit the wall.
Marriage? Forget it. Children? As long as they’re not mine. Vacations? It depends. How far, and for how long?
I’ve been known to buy fifteen different kinds of shampoo because one smells nice and one is for curly hair and one is for dry hair and one is for fine hair, and…well, you get the point.
Sleep? Too boring. What if I’m missing something important? What if there’s something else I should be doing?
What if I choose the wrong guy, the wrong project, the wrong whatever?
Driving home that day after sushi, I was sitting at a stoplight, and I thought about gravity. I thought:
We’re spinning in space. Right now.
I thought about how the Earth is tilted on its axis and we’re spinning ever so slowly in a vast universe.
What if gravity decided to stop doing its job? What if it decided it didn’t want to commit to pulling everything toward it, and wanted more space?
There would be consequences, that’s what. We’d all spin into infinite darkness and vaporize. I had a tingle of discomfort in my spine, thinking about that. I had to go home and lie down and ponder.
And I’ve concluded that it’s a good thing, commitment. I’m grateful to gravity for its commitment to hold us to its breast.
That’s a step in the right direction. Being grateful.
My boss, I’m fairly certain, is grateful that I show up for work and get my job done. My muse is grateful that I allow her to play in the first draft. But my editor is knocking at the door, wanting to clear the clutter, and he’s mighty pissed that I’m lying on the bed gazing at the ceiling.
The fact is, I can’t even commit to avoiding commitment.
After all, I commit to watching America’s Got Talent every Tuesday night. I commit to reading an entire book, buying groceries, cleaning the shower and showing up for work.
But something creative…that’s when the problem kicks in.
So, here’s the deal.
I’m going to commit to rewriting my novel. And blog about it so I’m held accountable. It might take six months, it might take a year. But I’m going to face this thing head-on, and when the fear rises, I’ll use my mindfulness training, my cognitive behavior therapy, my humor to overcome it. And I’ll let you, dearest reader, in on what transpires, in case you have commitment issues as well.
It won’t be easy. I see roadblocks ahead: fear of failure, anxiety about feeling boxed in, agitation about all the effort involved.
Doesn’t matter. I’ll find a way to work through those blocks, or scoot around them, or I’ll kick those suckers down. For better or worse I’m going to rewrite my novel.
Do you want to join me in this challenge? Do you want to be my commitment phobia-busting buddy? Let me know in the comments. What will you commit to doing?
Ooh…*raising hand*…count me in!! Let’s bust those phobias to smithereens. I’ll bring the chocolate rewards! I am here any time you need a talking to…ummm…I mean a ear to listen. I’ve got an arsenal of tools and some calming teas I will happily share ANY TIME.
You can do this. You are a great writer!! Now…go work to make your dreams come true.
Chocolate, calming teas, and a friendly ear. It doesn’t get much better than that! Thanks for the cheering-on.
Yeah- I totally get this! I have TONS of advice for you, but I refuse to give any of it until I follow it myself. I’ve got two projects to juggle, a short, and a novel to research. Oh, and a blanket to finish knitting….I desperately need this challenge. Thanks for inspiring me.
Woo-hoo! Let’s do this! I’m eager to hear what works for you, and what challenges you overcome. See ‘ya at the finish line! (And along the way, too.)
I admire your guts being transparent. Go for it! What’s the worse that can happen? You win or you learn, right? What will I commit to? Hmmm, going to have to think on this one. I’m currently committed to praying for each of my blog subscribers daily. It’s been…8? weeks so far. Something like that. I think my commitment is simply to STAY committed. Looking forward to hearing updates on your writing journey, Diane! That’s awesome you have an editor knocking on your door!
Ha! Hadn’t thought of it being awesome, but why not! It’s time to let him in, eh?
I should have clarified…it’s my inner editor knocking. Not, alas, the kind you pay to edit your work. Wouldn’t that be nice, having a professional editor banging on the door?
Wow! I’m super excited for you!!! This is a huge thing!!! I’m more than happy to help or cheer or whatever…just let me know how I can help!!!! At the end of this you will have more than a novel!!!
Well, you can cook dinners for me, and run my chores, and…
Thanks for cheering me on!
Well, you can certainly count me in! If we can’t meet regularly, at least we can check in somehow. But I can’t start until Wednesday. Maybe Thursday, or actually Friday would be better. I’ll let you know…
I’m counting on you!
Sushi without you just ain’t the same.
I’d be happy to shout moral support from the wings. I don’t have any immediate plans to write a book, so I’ll just have to commit to continuing to write my blogpost every week. Although it’s small scale compared to your novel, it’s still a big challenge for me. I can’t believe I’ve managed to keep at it this long to be honest.
Posting once a week is indeed a challenge. You qualify!
I have, like, twenty novels, novellas, anthologies, and a memoir just…sitting on my hard drive. That’s a problem. (Let your editor in. I’ve heard they’re not very patient and he might leave a surprise bag of…stuff on your porch.)
Ohh…good point. I better let him in.
I challenge you to get one of those novels, novellas, anthologies or the memoir off that hard drive.
Commit. Ment. I, personally, don’t feel that’s a very nice thing to do, challenging me that way. (You are SO on! I better hear that you’re doing the same. And, please, do let him in. That can get rather messy.)
I’m spreading the agony…er, joy. I’ll even send my editor your way.
I already have three residing in my head but thanks for the offer.
I will support you by committing to reading and commenting on every post you write about the progress of your novel!
Works for me! Thanks.
Fear of failure? Or fear of success? That can be even scarier. I’ll support any worthy endeavor.
Oh yes, fear of success! That’ll stretch my limits of comfort.