Thursday, January 10, 2013

Being in the moment : : Anne McAllister

Back when they were brand-new, I got a Kindle Fire.  I’d put off having any sort of e-reader for quite a while, but earlier that year my husband gifted me with a Kindle on my birthday. I became very fond of it.  So fond, in fact, that I jumped at getting a Kindle Fire because I used the Kindle a lot and I wanted to be able to do even more with it.

The Fire was a great success. I hear that the newer versions are, too, but I’m happy with the one I have, so I’m not thinking of going for ‘bigger and better.’  It’s given me all I hoped for – with the exception of being able to buy books from which apparently is still a no-no.  I don’t understand the thinking of publishers who limit such sales but permit sales of actual books across the pond.  Perhaps someone will explain so it makes sense.

However . . . one of the things my Fire has done is allowed me to discover books I might not have discovered previously.  I think, ‘Ah, that’s sounds good,’ and I purchase it – and hopefully I begin to read.

Or sometimes I don’t.

Sometimes I’m in the middle of something else and the book lingers waiting . . .and waiting.

TheBook580hThat happened sometime ago to a book called The Practicing Mind by Thomas Sterner.  I can’t even remember now how I discovered it. But I’m a fan of ‘practicing’ and it called to me. So I bought it – and promptly went on with whatever I was doing.

Then, two days ago, I was scrolling back through my bookshelves and I rediscovered The Practicing Mind. This time I opened it and began to read.

I don’t know why I didn’t read it when I first got it, but I think I am grateful that I waited until now.  Now is the right time for me to be reading it.  It’s the right time to recognize that where I am in the current book is the right place for me to be. I shouldn’t be worrying about the end.  The ending is not the most important thing (except perhaps to editors). What’s important is doing it right, focusing on the process of writing, of discovering the story in Lukas and Holly’s lives.

It’s a salient reminder – particularly in this time of New Year’s Resolutions that goals are important, but that ‘getting there’ is more what life is all about. 

The same goes not just for writing, but for everything we do, I think.  I love do work on family history – and I have goals. I want to discover the identity of my great-grandfather Johnson’s father.  But the process of seeking is just as important as finding. Learning HOW to seek is just as valuable. 

I like baking – and goodness knows, I enjoy eating what I bake. But the process of mixing ingredients, of stirring and rolling and shaping and putting the result into the oven is just as enjoyable (and far less fattening).

I was reminded over Christmas when we visited two of our sons and their families that the joy of parenting is in the doing. There is no ‘result’ at which time we can say, “All done.” It’s an on-going process.  Watching my sons as fathers, discovering that too was a joyful experience.

Sometimes we spend our lives thinking, “If only . . .” as in “If only I could finish this, I’d be happy,” or “if only I could get that, I’d be fulfilled.”  But really, it isn’t the attaining – it’s the process that is really important, that’s really valuable.

Sterner reminded me of this again in his book.  I’m reminding you. 

I hope we can all look back on 2013 as a year in which we stayed in the moment a lot of the time, when we didn’t regret the past or worry about the future, but focused on doing what was important, on living in the now.


Kate Walker said...

Thanks for that reminder Anne - I think it was needed. OK, I needed it! I'vce often said that, with writing particularly, if you're focused only on the end result - getting published, huge sales . . . then you'll often be disappointed . But if you enjoy the journey then everything will be fine. Happy New Year!

Karen H in NC said...

I'm with you and the Kindle Fire. Early in '12, I had well over $200 in Amazon GC in my stash...burning a big hole in my pocket. So I broke down and finally bought my first e-reader...a Kindle Fire and I love it. The only thing I have against it (and maybe any e-reader for that matter) is the fact I can't set up permanent files such as author, genre, books I read, etc to sort my books. I sometimes have trouble locating titles. Some of the PDF files that have been converted to mobi don't always appear under the BOOKS heading and I find them under DOCs instead. Very frustrating.

Pat Cochran said...

I, too, resisted for a long time until Honey
gave me my Kindle for Mother's Day. It's now
one of my good friends, literary-ly speaking!

Pat C.

Kaelee said...

Thanks Anne ~ I'm trying really hard this year not to let the if only's and the what if's rule my life.

Liz Fielding said...

Lovely post, Anne. Good to remember the joy in doing, rather than yearn of the pleasure of being done. There are times when writing becomes a chore because there's a pressing deadline. Time to reclaim the pleasure in the task, I think.

Anne McAllister said...

Kate, I know I need the reminder regularly. I think everyone does, not just writers! Have a great new year!

Karen, the "old" version of Kindle allows you to create "collections" which will help sort out books the way you want. I haven't seen that the Fire can do that. Maybe I've just missed it. But it will allow you to put them in alphabetical order by author, and that works pretty well for me. The DOCs thing is still confusing.

Kaelee, we can work on trying to stay in the present, but we'll have to try not to beat ourselves up over the times we don't quite do it!

Pat, Glad you are enjoying your Kindle, too. I forget that it's not a book. I just get lost in the story.

Liz, I love "being done" but I have forgotten the joy of just playing with the characters. That's what I'm determined to get back to. Right now there is too much emphasis on deadlines and I'm afraid my people don't respond well to that. And apparently I can't make them -- so I might as well consider living in the 'now' a virtue. Yes? Write on -- and enjoy it!