Visions, Revisions and The Inscription On My Tombstone

They say you should put your vision board somewhere prominent. Mine’s taped in front of our toilet. I stare at that vision board all the time.

The northeast corner of my vision board.

The northeast corner of my vision board.

The first week I looked at it with loving eyes. I felt joy seeing those buds of my dreams staring back at me. Writing and publishing books. Finding a new house for my family. Forgiving things in the past. It was an exhilarating week as I stared at the future with hope.

And then.

Then I did something I never do. Never. I checked my blog stats. Big ass mistake. I’m a tiny bit of an addict, which means I have an insatiable soul.  How much traffic would ever be enough?  There. Is. Never. Enough. Which is why I don’t check. Until I did.

This morning, the numbers like a razor to my wrist, still sliced through my serenity. When I looked at my vision board this morning, there was no love.  I imagined clawing at it like an aging movie star trying to destroy a movie poster from her prime. I felt how I imagine the original Beatles drummer feels when he hears I Wanna Hold Your Hand.

Make it go away. It’s mocking me.

This morning I sneered at my vision. And it hung there, its images the same as they were last week. But I’d changed.

This morning I was bitter.

Why in the name of glue sticks did I put a picture of a gorgeous Victorian house that is so far out of our budget? Forgive the pastWhy didn’t I just say I want to write bestselling novels about Costco from my new mansion on Jupiter? 

The writing thing. It’s like torture.  Even before I created the vision board there was an endless loop in my head:

Hey, you love writing and it brings you joy, which is plenty.

Voice 2: But joy isn’t enough. I want to be good. 

Voice 3: Wait. What does “good” mean? Being published? Being famous? Having Ann Patchett invite you to Nashville for a cup of tea and a discussion of ‘the craft’?

Voice 4: Maybe this vision board was a bad idea. It’s stirred me up. It made me want. It made me believe. 

This was how I headed to therapy this morning, a soup of self-pity and anxiety.  Naturally, I queued up sad songs on my iPod. Breakup songs. Divorce. Unrequited love. I’m the singer, and writing is the lover that kicked me to the curb. When Patsy Cline sings about how she feels crazy for losing her love, that’s me singing to writing.

Now I’m torn. I have a window of time this morning, and I could either accept the doubts and shame about my audacious dreams and keep writing, or I could draft the inscription for my tombstone before wasting hours with my very first therapist, T.J. Maxx.

Here are the rough drafts for my grave stone:

Christie Tate, beloved Costco platinum member and failed novelist.

Christie Tate, when her dreams died years ago she got all weird and depressed the hell out of all of us.

Christie Tate, kicked fear in the nuts and kept working towards her dreams. She died on the toilet surrounded by family and her vision board.

So, what’s it gonna be? 

I guess since T.J. Maxx isn’t open for another 45 minutes, I’ll write in spite of my bitterness and fear.  Maybe it will be good fuel for today’s work.


40 thoughts on “Visions, Revisions and The Inscription On My Tombstone

  1. I have the same insatiable soul, but mine feeds off of comments. I’m working on weaning myself and as hard as it is, it is better than the wrath I bring on myself when the numbers don’t measure up to what I expect in my delusional mind. As for the rest, I can’t say anything better than Ashley already did. Here’s to kicking fear in the nuts.

  2. You know what tells me you’re not a failure at writing? The fact that you write. Regularly. Often. The fact that you have a cheer section waiting to buy up your book(s).

  3. What Ashley and Carinn said and what all the others will say. Big, bright future – no shades allowed. You’ve inspired me to go drag my vision board out of the basement! 😉

  4. I found myself actually laughing while reading this – not because it was funny but because I could have written it! Right down to the sad songs on the iPod! I have to say I’m a happier spirit when I don’t check blog stats. Oh, and by no coincidence, you and I once had the same therapist! In all seriousness though, you’re an awesome writer. I’m betting on you.

  5. Ashley totally wins commenter of the year with that one! We are obsessive blog stat checkers and honestly it is good for no one. Sometimes we take a break from it and it helps. It is so not about “the numbers” except so much of the time it feels like it is. Well said.-The Dose Girls

  6. I’m POSITIVE you’ll be having tea, on Oprah’s network, talking about your best-selling novel, and your new vision board hanging in the bathroom of your new giant-ass-Victorian house. Giant and ass should never be written side by side. Whatever. You’re awesome!

  7. If you ever want to feel better about your blog stats, I’ll give you my password and you can check mine. That’ll do it. I think it’s a sign of positive momentum that you even had the courage to make a vision board in the first place. Most of us just sit on the toilet staring at nothing, too overwhelmed by our goals to even utter them. Or maybe that’s just me. Keep writing. We’ll all keep reading.

    • Thank you. I’m surprised by how much it has stirred up in me. I feel less stabby but I still want it to go away because it seems like its mocking me.

  8. My sister sent me this post cause she knew it was totally about me. (Writing kicks me to the curb all the time. And I will consider myself a success when Ann Patchett invites me to Nashville. Though I think my sister does not even know that part.) She talks about you all the time, and loves you a lot.

    Blog stats are for sissies; you don’t need ’em. I’m pretty sure they only exist as some kind of spiritual test.

    I do not even know who T J Maxx is but he sounds like a cowboy, or a sheriff, or a sheriff’s horse.

    • Well, how wonderful is this sister connection. Thanks for commenting. Maybe Ann P is in the market for two new friends, me and you! And blog stats are a spiritual test– it’s the damn dessert in which I wander without water or hope.

      TJ Maxx is a discount retail store that sells crap along side really cool (though slightly off) stuff. It’s a cousin of Filene’s Basement and Nordstrom Rack and Marshall’s, all of which have served as distractions from the fine art of loneliness and desperation.

  9. Here’s one: Christie Tate, so beloved her posts were read aloud to husbands and Grandmas straight from her reader’s readers (i.e. not directly from her site, which falsely deflated her stats). “Hahahahaha! Put down that video game controller! You gotta hear this one!” they’d say.

    Does that make sense? I didn’t think so. My insomnia’s making me loopy.

  10. This is why I seldomly comment. I’m completely “comment and iPhone” challenged. Argh!

    So, I love you and your writing. You’re hilarious and I so enjoy reading your witty and creative spins on all of life happenings. Yes, your blog is nourishment for my soul. Please keep writing. Your vision is unfolding. . . Victorian home and best selling NYTimes author in progress!!!! Love you.

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