This blog was featured on 07/27/2016
[THE WRITER'S LIFE] Think Differently

Think different.

You just edited me didn't you?

I did the same thing each morning I walked into the computer lab in which I helped the upcoming generation navigate the dangers of the Internet and the vagaries of Microsoft Word. Those Apple Think Different posters hung on the walls of my room and every single day I silently thought, "Think Different-ly." I really thought it would make as much sense if it were grammatically correct. This was years ago when I worked in an elementary school and my ambitions to be A Writer were wedged around being a single parent, staying gainfully employed and putting gas in the car. I think (I hope) I still have most of these posters tightly, safely rolled up in a cardboard tube somewhere. Thomas Edison, Pablo Picasso and Amelia Earhart, among others, stared at me every day, daring me to do what I was expecting of my students; to push past my comfort zone. Think differently. Become what I kept telling everyone I wanted to be. A Writer.

I don't think most of my students even knew who those people were, watching over them as they learned about key words and created and saved a document. Maybe they knew Kermit, sitting on the shoulder of Jim Henson, but not many of the others. I wanted them to think differently and I thought putting up the posters would inspire them. I imagined these young students testing their boundaries, trying new things. I don't know if it happened; it was an elementary school and we were often stuck simply creating a word processing document of their latest spelling words.

But I think about those faces watching us, me evolve during the years when I had no idea what I was doing. Becoming a writer was pushed aside as I went back to school instead and tested a career in education. I liked it, but there was always something missing. Until I somehow I managed to put a book together and get it published. Finally I was, in a word, an author. I feel like I know what the looks on those faces mean now. The look on all of those faces was the look of someone who was doing what they knew they should be doing. Of course they all achieved some sort of fame or recognition for their work (hence the close-up on the posters), but I suspect they would do their work anyway. And once they began, there was no way they could stop.

I think a little bit of that is happening to me these days. I am thinking differently about myself as a writer and an author. I became aware of it witnessing the latest She Writes Press authors launch their books. The new SWP authors are all over Facebook with their excited posts, tweeting their next events and worrying over publicists and book jackets. I was happy to discover that I wasn't jealous or envious of them. (You know, mostly.) I wish there was a word that means "I'm really happy for you, and I wish some of that stuff was happening to me." Their excitement is motivating me rather than threatening me. How about that? I am motivated to work on my next book and then the next one. Two books in the works for me right now. Books I can't wait to work on every day when I wake up in the morning. I am a writer and I am starting to act like one.

It's just thinking differently, that's all.

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  • Mary Ellen Latela

    Cindy, I am so happy I read your post ~ the day has begun again! You are not alone. Sometimes I do realized that I remember events which younger people have no clue about ... because they are young, and perhaps because they have more focus, I don't know. I have had long, long periods when other concerns took me away from the "creative" desk, mentally at least, when life was filled with angst and I took everything personally. I do think different! And I always have, but I finally (*snap fingers*) believe that I'm OK. Of course there are ups and downs, but I see them, I don't run away from them. Pema Chodron, a Buddhist teacher I like, suggests "leaning into" pain, instead of choking up. That way we get to understand what's going on inside without going straight to panic mode < that was/and still is, if I am really honest a fear and a reality. So I write, not about anxiety, but about dealing with what's right here, right now. Yes, I am working on a memoir, so there's a lot of yesterday, but it all adds up to being right here, right now. Thanks SO much.      

  • Thanks, ladies! Commenting on these posts is so thoughtful (not just mine--all the SheWrites posts) because with everything you all do--taking the time to read and comment is so generous.

  • Lene Fogelberg Writing

    Love this! <3 

  • Liz Gelb-O\'Connor

    Awesome post, Cindy! Look forward to reading your future books :-)

  • Barbara Stark-Nemon

    Yep... feeling the same way, Cindy...

  • Jean P. Moore

    Wonderful sentiments, Cindy.

  • Michelle Cox

    Nice post, Cindy!  I know what you mean about reading the SWP forum - exciting and motivating.  I was intimidated at first, but being a part of this group has helped me to be able to call myself an "author"!  How about that!

  • One of the best things about writing a monthly post is that it always generates such honest and personal responses, like yours Katrina and Cate's, too. I appreciate that so much - thank you! T.O. I'm thrilled to hear my work is within your reach! Please let me know what you think! 

  • T.O. Weller

    I clicked through because of the line in my email: "Becoming a writer was pushed aside as I went back to school instead and tested a career in education. I liked it, but there was always something missing." 

    Me too!! I used to feel alone, like I was the only single mother/"delayed writer"/"teacher instead" out there. I'm coming to learn that we are many.

    Then I realized that I have your book sitting next to my reading spot, ready to be opened! I take it as a sign that it must now move to the top of my "new book pile".

    Thank you for shedding light on your feelings ... and ours.

  • Katrina Katzenbach

    I am in the same boat, kind of. Last year, when I took a look at my writing habits (or lack thereof) I decided I didn't make writing a priority, which is why it was suffering. It is a little frustrating because, just like you with other authors, my friends are dancers, actors, and other artists, all finding success or already make their living doing what they love, and I still feel chained to this 9-5 "I work a boring office job, BUT..." type of life, which I'm struggling to get out of. I've felt the same way - happy for them BUT. One consolation is doing something writing related for work. That really helps, it helps reinforce the message to yourself that writing is central to your life. I admire you doing this as a single parent, and I hope to hear about your own book getting published. But the best thing you can do I think is to stay committed, because none of those people got to live off their dream by giving up. 

  • Cate, your comments are like the best, most nourishing comfort food for me! Thank you so much for letting me know your thoughts on my posts. It means a lot to know that people are reading them...but you! You do so much more! It appears that you take time to think about the posts and respond thoughtfully. Not just mine, but so many others on this site. You are a lovely example of what I believe this site to be about--positive and honest support and encouragement. Thank you!