This quote from A Bug's Life is a common theme among writers (and my children.)
For the past several weeks, my four-year-old has been on this "When I turn five..." kick. I've heard him say:
When I turn five, then I can read.
When I turn five, then I can watch Harry Potter (this is not true, but for some reason he thinks it is.)
When I turn five, then I will be big and strong.
When I turn five, then I will have so much fun.
And I can't help but wonder: What's so bad about being four? He's built up five-years-old in his mind to be this amazing age where all of his dreams are going to come true. I can't help but laugh every time he gets this dreamy look on his face, and I know he's about to tell me about something else he'll be able to do when he's five. (By the way, he doesn't turn five until March.)
But, maybe I'm as bad as he is. I remember saying, "When I get published..."
a) I'll feel validated for all of my hard work
b) I'll know I'm a good writer
c) I'll be so happy
d) I'll never doubt my writing again
Now I say, "When I get an agent..."
(Fill in the blank with a, b, c, or d from above.)
I know there are others out there that feel the same way, who think the same things. I worry that we're missing the joy of the journey and the joy of just writing because we love to write. When writing becomes less of an escape and more of a business, I'm afraid we're cheating ourselves of the very reason we started writing in the first place. Not that I don't think that being published is great. Not that I wouldn't LOVE to have an agent. But what if the focus shifted off of how happy I'll be when that happens, to being happy with where I'm at right now?
If we're too busy wishing we are somewhere else, then we're missing how great life can be where we're at. I still think we should be working toward our goals of getting an agent or getting published or whatever our personal writing goals are, but we need to find contentment in that journey. And never, ever forget why we began writing in the first place.