Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Things I Strive For As A Writer: Patience

(Part 2 of a series about what attributes I try to develop as a writer)

In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker crash lands on a swampy planet and proceeds to have a whine fest about how this crazy little alien is wasting his time.

Luke: Stop being annoying, little alien! I don't have time for this! I'm looking for a great warrior.

Little Alien: Ohhh, you're looking for Yoda.

Luke: You know him? Take me to him!

Of course, we all know the little alien is Yoda, and Luke just looks silly because he's all in a huff and whiny and impatient when his answer's right smack in front of him. And then when he finds out, he still hasn't learned his lesson.

Yoda: I can't teach him.

Luke: Teach me! Now! Ben, tell him! *wahhhhh*

Yoda: He has no patience, always looking to the future instead of what's right in front of him. Just like his father, he is.

Luke: Teach me! *wahhhh*

I like to make fun of Luke, but in reality I see a lot of myself in him when it comes to patience. There are things I want and I want them NOW and why in the world should I have to wait? Doesn't Yoda see how important I am? Duh.

I'm not proud of my tendency to impatience, and it's something I've been trying to mend since I started seriously writing. You know, five years ago.

Most of the time, I've failed miserably at it, if I'm being honest. Only recently do I feel like I've gotten any firm grip on patience, and it's really come down to one thing:

Living in the present.

I'm not saying you shouldn't have goals for the future or a general life direction; I'm just saying the only time you have true control over is now. This very second. Do the things you can do now to reach your goals and don't worry about the rest.

It will come, if you keep doing what you can now.

It's a hard thing to do, especially when so many of my goals are still in the future. Sometimes I wish I could just skip all these little steps and get there. I want a shortcut. Sometimes I think I'm ready when I'm not. Then I end up running off to fight Vader and losing my hand.

I'm a slow learner.

I want to be Future Me so badly! But then I realize being me now is the only way to get there. Putting in the work. Taking the Journey. You know, all that junk you hope doesn't apply to you but actually does.

But here's the kicker—when I have patience it actually makes the journey easier. When I focus on my daily tasks, find peace in the idea that it's not now but it will be someday, I'm a much happier person. I don't feel that nagging restlessness, that dissatisfaction that comes from wanting things you can't have. I just do my thing, and somehow it all works out.

Now if only I could be patient more often. I guess I still need more Jedi training...


  1. oh I definitely need more patience. You know, I used to be tons of patient, then I had kids.... :)

  2. You have to learn to love the ride.

    Always easier said than done.

  3. I feel this way all the time! In the past year or so, I've become better at taking things one day at a time, but it's still really hard to stay focused. Patience...you must learn patience.

  4. This post could have been about me. Me and Patience? Ha ha. But in the last couple of years (not only with writing, but with other things I've had to deal with), I've finally had to learn how to have patience. Or at least MORE patience than I used to. ;-) Focusing on the now is definitely a major key to patience. Good luck to us both! :-)

  5. What's funny is I finally let my 6-yo watch the original Star Wars trilogy a few weeks ago, and I turned to my hubby and said, "Do you remember Luke being so whiny?"

    I have a hard time with patience in general, but it's gotten much better after having kids - they've taught me that time is more like a general guideline than a definite construct. I'm still early for everything though!

  6. "Sometimes I wish I could just skip all these little steps and get there. I want a shortcut. Sometimes I think I'm ready when I'm not."

    Hear hear. What a great post, Natalie. Sometimes I swear you're reading my mind.

  7. Poor Luke. It's bad enough that he's a whiner, but then he has to share scenes with Han Solo, which by comparison make him seem even lamer.

    As for me, I have no problems with patience. I'm totally zen.


  8. This is probably tied for number one along with having a bit more confidence in myself.

  9. "I want to be the future me so badly" I love that. I am struggling with the same thing. I hope I can find ways to live in the moment but it's really hard.

  10. This is SUCH a great post--thank you so much for the reminder. And don't worry, the rest of us are impatient too--probably more so. I can't WAIT to read your book someday. *shakes fist at the slow publishing industry* :)

  11. I know exactly what you're talking about, I've been struggling with the same thing lately. Living in the moment is so haaaaard!

  12. You are nothing like Luke. You own a hairbrush and have actual screen presence. Also, I don't think people are rooting for your enemies (That's the US version of "root", if you're an Aussie, stop laughing and substitute "cheer for" or "encourage".)

  13. Great post. I definitely sympathize with the desire to be "future me" right now!

  14. Sometimes I fear what the future me is - someone with a lot more responsibility. You're right about living in the present. It makes life so much better, but it can be difficult.

  15. Great post.

    I am not a patient kinda girl*. In fact, as a kid, I used to feel impatient just watching those scenes with Yoda :)

    * but I try to give out the vibe that I am...

  16. I am so not patient, in anything I do, including and especially my writing. Must be the Gen-X part of me. Great analogy w/ Luke, btw.

  17. I too need more jedi training = more patience. I struggle heaps with wanting/wishing my book could be prefect yesterday!

  18. Ahh, starwars. Doesn't it have an example for everything? Patience, endurance, not accidentally commiting incest (that would make an interesting blog post), switching from the dark side to the good side, learning to love something/one more than yourself, and quitting when you're ahead. Or behind. (As in, prequals = bad idea. well, cool idea, bad execution.)
    Anyway, I'm in an impatience funk right now, so thanks for posting this. Sometimes we just need to know we're not the only ones, you know? Maybe there are other people just as wildly impatient/mildly insane as we are!

  19. Every time Luke comes on screen, I make Beaker sounds. You know, from the Muppets?

    Meh meh meh meh mehmehmehMEH!

    This has very little to do with your post, but I wanted to tell you anyway.

  20. Thank God for you! I need the same patience... I am so frustrated sometimes, especially when I go months working, and have no time or strength for my writing, and when I do have time to write, I can't sit still.

    I am looking forward to summer... but I have several more weeks of paper grading before I get there. Must be patient...

  21. I needed this post today. I was just whining about 5 minutes ago about wanting to be the future me. Thanks for reminding me that the present me has some work to do. :)

  22. I love your "future me" comment - it's exactly how I feel most of the time. I've decided I need to try and enjoy the journey and what I have right now...we'll see how that works :)

  23. Love the "Wahhh" behind Luke's statements. He was whiny in that one, huh? LOL.

    Great post. it's so true. I'll always need Jedi training. LOL

  24. lol...I'm the same way. I'm always thinking, "If I could just fast forward..."

    But then I wouldn't get to savor the journey there!!