Everything is a process.
That’s a simple truth about life, but, like all simple truths, it’s something that’s hard to come to terms with.
Everything is a process. Writing and working and living and relationships. Everything is a process. And that means two things specifically:
Things take time. If you want to accomplish anything, anything of value at least, then there’s a number of steps involved. There might even be prep work.
Things are never quite done.
I go through stages with this. There are days I understand and accept it, and there are days when I wish it worked differently. Despite everything I’ve done and everything I’ve learned, I still catch myself some days thinking if I could only get “Fill-in-the-Blank” then I’d be set. And, no, that’s not always a money thing.
There are days I fantasize about the day I no longer have to try. When I will have achieved whatever I was waiting for and then life becomes maybe not easy but manageable.
Of course, I know that’s nonsense.
NaNoWriMo wrapped up this week, and I finished with the highest word count I’ve ever hard. 81000 words in a single month. And as much as I am very proud of that fact, I know I’m not done.
The story isn’t complete. Even now, I know I’m probably looking at a 100,000 word first draft. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited. The story is good. It wants to be told, and I am eager to get it all down.
But it’s hard, after dropping 81K, to not think, “Really? More?” To cross one finish line and realize it’s just another mile marker and wonder, just for a second, whether you have it in you to finish.
Writing has often taught me this lesson. That you’re never quite done. Finish a chapter? Good, write another. Finish a first draft? Good, now go back and rewrite it. Finish a book? Good, get cracking on the next one.
It doesn’t help, either, that a lot of the stories I write tend to have ready-made sequels that I’m already writing in my head. But that’s just the process. And everything is a process. Everything has steps to it, and once you hit one milestone, there’s usually another a little further on. You rarely get to “Done”, and even when you do, there’s the next thing waiting for you.
I’m not going to lie. It can be damn infuriating. And, like I said, there are days I understand that, and there are days I really wish I didn’t have to.
Because, yes, it applies to so much more than writing. Everything in life is a process. But we forget that. It’s why people work hard to get a job or a degree, and then are disappointed when life doesn’t open up for them. That’s why people put forth effort in relationships, until they get married and think all that’s behind them.
I think at least part of the problem is that we measure progress by successes. When you get to the mountaintop, then you can look back and recognize your efforts. But not during the process, because what if you fail? Won’t all that have been wasted?
That, to me, is one of the hardest things. As someone who has devoted considerable effort in the pursuit of some important things that didn’t pan out, I often wonder if I was better off not trying. I’m learning, though, that that’s not the case.
Everything is a process, which means it doesn’t necessarily make a difference if we reach the finish line or not. Oftentimes there isn’t a finish line, and, just as often, we reach a goal we didn’t expect, one we didn’t shoot for from the beginning.
There’s value in the process. And, yes, there are days I don’t believe that.
I’m learning that there are days where I’m going to wake up and be very confident with where I am. I’ll show gratitude for my situation. I’ll recognize the progress I’ve made. Most importantly, I’ll be okay with the fact that I don’t know, that I can’t see if I’m making any progress forward.
And there are days where I’m going to be kicking and screaming with God all day.
I’m learning that’s a part of the process. Another step.
Everything is a process, which means everything, at some point, will take effort and intention. It might not always take as much, and thankfully there are days when the pressure is off. But it will always take something. If we want to grow, that means getting higher than ourselves as we are now. And you can’t coast uphill.
It’s always going to take something. Because there’s always a process.
And you have to show up for it.