The title of this blog entry was going to be “Daring to Be Ordinary.” In it, I planned to explain how last year at this time, I had all sorts of hopes and dreams about my writing, and how this year, I have scaled those back to a more manageable and modest scope. I even planned to offer supporting documentation for this new stance. I’d quote Adam Phillips, a British psychoanalyst who recently wrote an essay that invites us to give up the idea that we could have been a contender. Who says? Russell asks. Look at all the ways that bemoaning our ordinary life gets in the way of enjoying that ordinary life.
There is a certain appeal to crying, “Uncle!” in the face of one’s unsatisfied wantings. Last year, I wrote a story that was exhilarating to produce and decided it was time to get back into the fray – I’d figure out possible markets for the story, send it out, keep track of rejections, keep sending it out, etc., etc. – only I’d forgotten what it feels like to have something rejected. In case there is any doubt about this, it doesn’t feel good. Maybe I didn’t want to participate in this process after all.
It followed, then, that if I just copped to being ordinary, I’d be able to step out of the entire agonizing sequence of wanting, striving, failing; wanting, striving, failing; wanting, striving, failing. It appeared that the best place to stop that sequence was at the point of wanting. If I resolved not to want, or if I shaped my wanting into something more attainable (as in, I don’t actually want that cute boy to date me, I just want him to smile back when I smile at him), then maybe I won’t feel this crappy feeling of wanting something I don’t get.
That was my idea a few days ago. I’d get ahold of my wanting, I’d stop the cycle, I’d be heroic in your eyes – in an ordinary hero sort of way. But damned if last weekend’s writing retreat didn’t get me back in touch with some wants I have for my writing. So I had to change my title because while there might be daring in accepting one’s ordinariness, there is maybe even greater daring in being in each and every moment: being who we are when we want, and who we are when we are rejected, and who we are when we realize we’re no Virginia Woolf, and who we are when, even so, there are some things we want as a writer.