The Fundamentals of Change

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Wow – pretty profound title, right?

It sounds as if I might be able to impart some actual wisdom there. Sadly, as you have all come to learn, I do not have a great deal of wisdom to offer.

Still, I have my thoughts and opinions, and here they are.

Life right now is all about the changes I want to make. My friend Kirby, a particularly brilliant and knowledgeable guy, in fact, a source of inspiration for these changes, wrote something to me which I adored:

“Funny you say that, Erin. I had several inspiring things happen Sunday and Monday that had me thinking about where I’m taking my life in the “second forty years” and then I log on and see this from you. It was icing on the cake to see you grabbing the bull by the horns. (Is that a mixed metaphor, or do they eat cake at bullfights?)”

“The second forty years.” I like that.

As I engage people in discussions about life changes, I hear these sorts of things a lot lately:

  • “I thought things would change after I (graduated/got married/moved away) but nothing really has.”
  • “I admire your spunkiness, but isn’t survival more important than passion for your work?”
  • “My life is boring, I wish things were different.”
  • “Never thought I’d get roped into doing this for a living, but here I am. Just stuck.”
  • “Someday, I’d like to (fill in the blank.)”

.

There are endless variations, but all on the same thing – Change, or the Lack Thereof.


Many of us, myself included, have somehow come to believe that change will generally happen on its own. While that will occasionally be true, it will usually be due to events outside our control – the death of a loved one, the winning of the lottery – huge, impacting events after which things cannot be The Same.

The truth as I see it, however, is that the most important changes must come from within. We have to find our own motivation, be our own impetus, to make the changes happen. Otherwise, they remain daydreams. A common area where I see this is fitness and weight, and the analogy applies fairly universally. Sitting here in my comfy chair and thinking about being thin and fabulous is not going to make it happen, no matter how much energy I put into that fantasy.

I have to make conscious changes in my lifestyle in order for this to happen; being more active, eating less junk food. These are choices that will effect change.

Similarly, having a desire to “eat better” must be actively chased down. For most of us, no one is going to deliver and prepare delicious, healthy food for us without any effort on our own parts. We have to consciously make the choice not to have the hot fudge sundae, not to have another helping of mac and cheese, and to make the positive, healthier choice of, well, doing and eating something else.

Major life events follow the same principle: We have to decide what we want to do, figure out how to do it, and then DO IT.

Waiting for the It to find us is a waste of time.

We have to chase It down, get to know It, become friends, conquer our fears, make strides.

If we don’t do these things… stuff is, by and large, going to remain largely the same. Another example – I have always, always wanted to be a writer. I have visions of novels dancing in my head, and a complete lack of ability to pin them down and get them written. Being A Writer is just this fanciful idea, a nebulous, vague ambition that once in awhile manifests itself in a good blog post, or a half-assed fifty or so pages of a half-hearted novel. I’ve never really tried it.

So. TOWARD CHANGE.

I just signed up for NaNoWriMo.

I.

Am.

Terrified.

I tried this little venture once in 2006 or so, and I failed miserably. Hell, I couldn’t even really get started – I was too paralyzed by the looming, inevitable FAILURE. I couldn’t just churn out words, they had to be Words That Mattered and Which Didn’t Suck. Completely twisted up in my own frothy anxieties, I watched November woosh by and felt the weight of the unwritten words upon me.

From the NanoWriMo site:

“Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

“Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.”

Also:

“Tell everyone you know that you’re writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who’ve had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.”

Folks – you are my Looming Spectre. I’ve told you I’m going to do this.

Now I gotta.

Phawk and our friend MattAdor are participating, as well.

It will be huge fun. You can do it, too!

My novel will be awful and long-winded and whingy. It will have a soggy plot, wafer-thin characters and absolutely no cohesion whatsoever.

I have to be ok with this, because that’s how it’s going to go.

No editing allowed in November. Editing is for pussies (Ok, editing is for December.) Just balls-out writing during every scrap of time I can find.

Fifty. Thousand Words.

Holy. Shit!

And I haven’t the first idea what I want to write about, either. Not a clue as to genre or storyline or ANYTHING.

But it’s ok. It’s fine. It doesn’t have to be good.

It just has to be.

It’s a step toward change.

I’ll go from someone who has never written a novel, to someone who has.

Piece of cake.

(Jinkies!)

Posts at least a little bit like this one:

Lifestyle, Mental Well-Being, Musing, Personal Responsibility, Writing , ,

7 responses to The Fundamentals of Change


  1. Severin

    First!

    Haven’t read the article yet, but I’m sure it’s good.

  2. Erin D.

    I’d like you all to meet Severin, whom I love like the younger brother I never wanted. Severin shares his name with an anal plug sex toy device.

    Thank you, Severin, for your poignant, insightful and witty commentary on your own journey of change.

    <3

  3. So if this path turns ill for you, it’s entirely my fault? I think that’s how I read that fourth paragraph.

    Notwithstanding this pervasive perception that I’m brilliant, which seems to not be shared by those-who-throw-money-at-brilliant-people, I’m humbled to have been an inspiration. You wrote somewhere not too long ago that you aren’t good enough to make it as a writer. I had the urge to summon a colossal, disembodied hand to bitch-slap you where you stood for writing those words. Lacking that conjuring ability, I’ll just ask you if you’ve seen any of the utter horseshit that passes for writing these days? Fiction in particular. It’s enough to make the ghost of Ernest Hemingway go back for another case of shotgun shells.

    Roughly 2,000 words a day, huh? I’d love to join you in this exquisite masochism, but alas I’ve proven to myself too many times that I cannot write that way. I can’t not edit. A whole day can be spent on a single phrase – and must be – before the next sentence can begin. Anthony Trollope, I am not.

    I tip my hat to you and your muse.

  4. So, while I don’t think I would succeed at a novel, I am thinking about going for the month with a goal of writing 1,000 words a day. I used to Journal all the time, and I miss it. I miss navigating the inner parts of my brain, and I miss being able to go back and read what I wrote.

    November is as good a time as any, I suppose. 😀

  5. Why don’t you write a novel about how to change your life?

  6. Michigan Heather

    Hey, any step for change sounds good… speaking of which… I am going to be applying for a job as an asst dean next week!! Talk about terrified!! I think I’d be good at it, though I probably won’t have a passion for it… but it would get me to Maine!!!

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