March 5, 2014

The journey begins: Adapting a centuries-old religious tradition to suit my personal growth goals

Buckle your seatbelts, folks. Today, I begin 40 days of blogging.

But, wait! Isn't Lent the time when Christians simplify their lives and say farewell to things like chocolate or Facebook?

I admit, I'm stretching a bit. Lent is the season of solemnity, repentance, and self-denial, and blogging is fairly self-indulgent. Despite my Googling, I can't find any Biblical or historical traditions to support the religious validity of my approach. I don't even know if Episcopalians are supposed to give things up for Lent. 

In past years, I have given up habits that didn't serve me, such as weighing myself or spending money on frivolous things. Other years, I have done nothing to observe Lent, except for noticing the purple decor at church and eating Cadbury Creme Eggs with abandon.

To my understanding, a good Lenten observance is a journey of personal growth through self-discipline and commitment. When it works, it can give you startling clarity on what's really important. This is what I'm seeking right now, and I'm hoping that I can get it by adding something to my life instead of taking things away.

Writing is the one thing that I have always felt called to do, no matter where I have been in my life. It has been my job and my hobby; it has exhausted me and made me feel alive. It is always part of who I am and whom I wish to become.

I recently found a list of goals in which my 25-year-old self promised to write my first book by 35 and be a published author by 40. Next month, I'll turn 36, and I have no manuscript - just a few pages of scattered storyline and a handful of random blogs.

The randomness stumps me. I've dreamed of writing business books, romances, plays, humorous essays, and novels about women coming to terms with things. If my life were cut tragically short, I'd regret not having told my story - but I don't know which story I'm supposed to tell. Is it the one about my parents immigrating to the United States? Is it the one about the woman I met at DFW who saw straight into my soul? Perhaps it's something that hasn't happened to me yet.

This, I know: I won't figure out my story by not writing. In 40 days, I will write 40 things. Some of them will be about business, some will be humorous, and some will likely be pretty dull. 

This year, for Lent, I'm giving up all the things that are standing in my own way as a writer:

I'm giving up the voice in my head that says "This is lame and nobody cares."

I'm giving up the inner editor who thinks I overuse certain style conventions (I won't tell you which ones, because then you'll notice it too and it will annoy both of us).

I'm giving up hitting the snooze button 2 extra times; instead, I might draft a couple lines of my blog with breakfast.

I'm giving up playing Ruzzle on the bus, at least until my daily blog is finished.

I'm giving up my fear of negative comments, because I know they're rare until you have a really big following (and besides, I need to develop a tough skin because someday I will).

I'm giving up my concern that my voice inconsistently veers from light-hearted to overly sentimental to corporate, because I know that this project is about finding and refining my own voice as a writer.

I'm giving up the judgmental voice of 25-year-old Monica, who might scoff that I'm clicking a "Publish" button with my mouse, when what she meant was to earn a seal of approval from an editor in New York.

I'm giving up any judgments standing between me and my goals - especially the ones that come from myself.

I'm giving up not writing.

It may seem weird, but I feel like dedicating myself to this endeavor will bring me more spiritual growth than giving up chocolate. And not just, well, because...

1 comment:

Anne Regan said...

My teeth hurt just thinking about the Cadbury Cream eggs. Good on you for doing this!