The Cost Of Optimism

The take-away coffee — my first for the year — was as good as I hoped it would be. It was significantly bolstered by it being a spectacularly sunny, 23°C day, with a warm breeze whispering through the newly-leafy trees.

It was a beautiful mid-afternoon break, promptly followed by a conniption about the amount of work I’ve agreed to deliver this year.

150,000 words, is that you? Yes, yes it is.

Wowzer. That’s a lot you’ve taken on there, lady. Yes, yes that’s true.

Been here a few times before, haven’t you? Yes, yes I have. Every year for about five years, actually.

The inevitable balm to my panic is to map out the rest of the year, with each milestone pinned to a date.

Knowing when I’m going to work on something is often much more important than what I’m specifically going to work on.

Once that calendar is done, it’s time for a wine and an incredulous giggle at the sheer scale of my optimism.

I think most writers are this way — at least, every writer that I know.

We are curious, attentive people for whom it is entirely unnatural to turn down an opportunity to colour in a new discovery or to stick our noses up to someone else’s window. We say yes to ideas by the dozen, and then have this inevitable moment of reckoning.

With enough practice, you puzzle together a way to get it all done.

Sometimes it’s a cake walk, and other times it’s a lunatic scramble behind the scenes. Writing can be quietly methodical, and it can be mysterious and wild. Sometimes the energy ebbs smoothly forward, and sometimes it bucks and twists and fights you.

But as long as the words hit the page, and ring true in the reader’s mind, it doesn’t matter how you get there.

So if you’re feeling stretched, or slightly (/extremely) panicky about when you’re going to get all that writing done — even if no one else is waiting to read it — you’re not alone. This is the writer’s life.

In fact, you’re in illustrious company, because every writer who has stuck with it has faced this moment… more often than any of us would care to admit.

It’s the cost of optimism.

But since optimism is what drives you to write in the first place — that impulse that you alone can tell this story, capture this idea — I think the stretch is worth it.

You’ll stretch, and stretch, and then snap back into the present moment the moment you put your pen down… only to find something new and interesting is already wrapping a thread around you.

Optimism, and the curiosity it rides in on, are the writer’s constant companions. It never ends, and I’d never want it to.