Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life is a book I turn to time and time again when I’m in need of some sage advice to push me forward in my writing (which is quite often!) In the chapter on short assignments, she quotes E.L. Doctorow who once said that “writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
Now I’m not writing a novel, but I am trying to step into this part of my identity as a writer in the Slice of Life 2015 March challenge. I’m taking this bit from Anne and E.L. Doctorow more as life inspiration—but hey, if it serves two purposes, then I’ll take that too.
Those who know me well know that I can climb the worry mountain better than most and fret the whole climb. I can get to the top and see that it really wasn’t worth it; and no matter how many sayings or reassurances I hear echo in my head along the way, it never seems to help. I always find my way down and until the next climb is ahead of me, I calm down.
Tonight, while taking a run and being aware of the the little (and big) worries creeping in and out of my mind as quickly as the pacing breaths, I saw some headlights approaching down the road. I thought back to E.L. Doctorow’s words and suddenly begin to feel like this moment, this new mountain of worries that I was preparing to hike, was not worth putting on my hiking boots for. I only have to focus on what’s in front of me–only as far as I can see at this present time–breathe, and take it on. It will be okay.
Anne elaborates on Doctorow’s words: “You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.”