Julie Luekenga lives in the high mountain ranching community of Gunnison, Colorado and is a freelance writer published in regional and national publications and a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.
Writing under the name Julie Luek, she is a regular, every other week, contributor to the international writing website, She Writes. She is also a monthly contributor to Chiseled in Rock blog.
Finding Your One Thing by Julie Luek
One of my favorite movie scenes is from the film City Slickers. In the scene Jack Palance’s character, Curly, a grizzled cowboy with a cigarette dangling from his lips, is riding on horseback alongside Billy Crystal’s city character, Mitch, who is in the throes of a midlife crisis.
Curly turns to Mitch and asks, “Do you know what the secret to life is?”
Mitch eagerly responds, “No, what?”
Curly holds up one, leather–gloved finger. “This.”
“One thing. Just one thing.” Curly pauses. “You stick to that and everything else don’t mean shit.”
“That’s great, but…” Mitch shrugs his shoulders slightly. “What’s the one thing?”
Curly points his finger at Mitch. “That’s what you got to figure out.”
Finding My One Thing
I have dedicated this year to finding my purpose, my one thing. There’s a lot that competes for my attention in writing, but finding my voice, the writing that makes me, well me, is this year’s major pursuit.
I spent all last year working on a manuscript which, quite honestly, I would never pick up and read if I saw it in a bookstore. Now isn’t that interesting? In part, it was a cathartic project of release. But I also wrote it because I thought I should write fiction . . . right? Needless to say, it wasn’t very good. The recipe was off—one heaping cup wrong motives, two cups lack of skill, half cup lack of interest, two heaping tablespoons self-indulgence. Mix, stir and simmer for twelve months.
But I do believe I have a unique voice, a gift to share, and as Curly so wisely said, that’s what I got to figure out.
Of course, the question Mitch probably had, the one only he could answer was, how. How do you find your one thing? I don’t have the answers, but here are some ways I’m going about it:
• Say A Little Prayer: Anne Lamott in Bird By Bird, talks about how she says a prayer before she starts writing each day, asking for help to get her self out of the way, to be a conduit to what needs to be written. I try to do the same. It’s still a discipline, and I haven’t cracked the code yet, but I believe she’s onto something– a spiritual connection in our writing process.
• Read…A Lot: Most writers are readers, so this isn’t revolutionary, but I am making a conscious effort to read books–fiction, non-fiction, writing books, all different kinds– hoping they will teach me different styles of expression so I can learn more about what I like and what I don’t like.
• Write…A Lot: And boy, am I writing some bad stuff, but I’m writing. I’m trying out new styles, a different voice, playing and not feeling like everything I write needs to be a masterpiece, giving myself permission to fail, or maybe even succeed. Towards that end, I started a new blog—just my writing, just to practice and have fun.
• Block Out The Noise: As Curly suggested, the “one thing” is for me to figure out. This means sometimes I have to shut out the noise and, for me, that means disengaging just a wee bit from the online world, so I can hear my voice, discover what I’m supposed to be doing.
• Listen To The Experts But…: There are a lot of gurus out there telling us how to build a better blog, how to attract a wider audience, how to be a better writer. Ironically, almost all of them, while touting their advice, encourage you, the writer, to be the one who finds your own voice, your originality, do whatever it is you do best. So while I listen to their advice, I try not to copy it. After all, they got where they are by finding and employing their one thing!
What about you? Have you found your one thing? What does that mean to you? How are you going about finding it? Or, if you found it, share with the rest of us a little of your journey. We are community. But we are made up of such creative, gorgeous individuality. What is your one thing?
This article originally appeared on the site, She Writes. She Writes is a community, virtual workplace, and emerging marketplace for women who write, with over 20,000 active members from all 50 states and more than 30 countries. Leveraging social media tools and harnessing women’s collaborative power, She Writes is fast becoming the destination for all women who write.
Finding my own one thing has become a very long journey, Julie. It seems I have a new “one thing” every decade or two. I’m still not sure I’m there (or here) for the duration.
To learn more about Julie and her writing, visit her blogs, In Fine Company and A Thought Grows. She can also be found on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.