I used to love that saying "When my ship comes in". Those 5 words contained all the promises of fame and fortune - and that loot is waiting there, just over the horizon. But here's the deal. That ship seems to simply exist ONLY to wait there - just over the horizon. You squint your eyes, stand up on tip-toe to be taller, certain that if you could simply spy it, it'll come roaring into port.
Remember when you were a little kid and you and a bunch of other little kids decided after a rainstorm to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow arcing above your neighborhood? Even when you roamed to the very edges of the parental established boundaries of your territory, that rainbow never looked closer. It's kind of the same thing as the ship, stories meant to tantalize, but ultimately disappoint. Life has one wicked sense of humor.
So, after years of at first, waiting, and then pondering the usefulness of waiting, and then thinking maybe I should be looking for a bunch of smaller boats that would add up to one giant ship, I had an idea.
Why couldn't I build my own boat?
And you know what? After I came to that conclusion, I was a LOT happier. Now I felt like I at least I had a smidgen of control. And as my friends and family will gleefully tell you - I'm all about the control. So here are some of the things I've done to build my raft, that someday I hope will reach ship status:
1. Exercise my brain. That can mean reading fantastic books, looking at art that makes you think, listening to people that have opinions, entertaining new ideas, and even just curling up with a crossword puzzle.
2. Exercise my bod. In case no one's noticed I do love me some tennis, but even when my schedule doesn't permit it, it's still important to move. It's been scientifically proven that the number one cause of idea constipation is lack of exercise. It's true. Okay, it's probably not true but it LOOKS true so that's what's important. On non tennis days I still try to move somehow. I play with the old man wiener dog and the horrible min pin puppy. I play with my hula hoop. Yep, I have a hula hoop. I'm a dork and proud of it.
3. Work daily. 2 very important words. Only with consistently making your craft a part of daily life will you BE that writer or artist rather than TRYING to be that writer or artist. But even though the "daily" part of that statement is clear, The "work" part isn't. Work can consist of sitting down and hammering out a couple thousand words. Work can be shopping for art materials. Work can be jotting down ideas, researching marketing opportunities, reading artist, writer, editor, agent blogs, or laying in the grass staring at cloud shapes. It can be hard work deciding whether that cumolo nimbus looks more like the Taj Mahal or a bunny rabbit.
4. Give while you're waiting to get. This can mean networking, sharing your ideas. This can mean offering what you've learned to someone starting out. This can also mean that you get out there in the world and find something that needs to be done. These days, there's a LOT that needs to be done.
And if you can't think of a way to give, here's one suggestion: http://memorywalk.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=336374&supid=298822955