I’ve travelled this blacktop many times before and run out of gas, gotten a few tickets for tail-gating, speeding, and driving myself into a ditch. But the good thing about traveling over paths I’ve already been down is that I’m beginning to notice so much more about the experience.
I’m picking up details and nuances and having epiphanies about the asphalt itself, where the bumps are, the sudden curves, the cracks, the narrowing lanes, and to prepare in enough time to take advantage of the upcoming divided highway. And too I seem able–because of my growing acquaintance with the road itself–to find time to look in all four directions.
The rearview mirror reveals where I’ve been, and I’m grateful for the miles covered. I begin to notice and appreciate the roadside vegetation, the swooping hawk in the sky, the deep scary woods with its never-seen-before dirt lane, and the distant mountains across the meadow glistening in the afternoon sun.
There is only one beginning to each new year, each new month, each new week, and each new day. One of my resolutions is to remain aware of those beginnings, to hold onto the freshness and energy that comes from waking up each morning and recommiting to my personal landscape: my family, my friends, and of course, my writing.
I’ve been practicing consistency and focus. Wait! Focus should be listed first, then consistency. Focus is the most important tool in embracing a dream, developing a talent, accomplishing what one sets out to accomplish. And though many believe that if one has a passion, focus shouldn’t be an issue, it often is.
Focus slips into the ditch as easily as a car with a distracted driver. My first two priorities, family and friends, constantly challenge my focus. They are hard to deny, but they are also my support group, my inspiration, and without them, what would be the point?
But balancing them with my writing isn’t always easy. They need me. They want me. And I feel compelled. But it is this very struggle between them and the work, that conflict, that gives me my “drive.”
Consistency is impossible without focus. There is no way I can stay on the highway if I’m not paying attention. At least somewhere in my brain, I must remain aware of other cars, smelly semis, and jack-asses in Lexi and F-150s. So focus first. Consistency second.
Climbing into that old beater, backing it out of the garage, and into the street every single day is essential…or at least five days a week like the normal folks. Sometimes my perception is the beater just isn’t going anywhere. The batteries dead, the engine won’t start, and I’ve run out of gas. Must’ve lost focus yesterday when I drove by that gas station when I should have stopped to fill up. Damn.
But it’s a new day so I call on the WRITER’S version of triple A–a good story by someone else, a prompt from Meg, a note to Sarah or Sharon, and get recharged, regassed, back on the road. And each experience gets me closer to my destination. Even the running out of gas. Oh that’s a story! What if me and my family are out for a Sunday drive and we run out of gas or have a flat tire? With my mother-in-law? What if an escaped convict descends on us? What might happen next?
I’m pretty sure Flannery O’Connor knew how to get back on the road and I can too because today is a new day, a new week… Well, you get the drift.
This post originally appeared at Flash Fiction Chronicles on January 4.