This is a question I’ve asked myself a few times over the years and consistently come up with the same answers.
Yes, we can be done with anything (or anyone or anyplace) when its time has come and gone.
No, passions don’t necessarily last forever (although they can…sometimes).
I’ll bet Harper Lee was passionate about To Kill a Mockingbird when she wrote it. The life after, not so much. To strive so hard to tell a story, certain it will be ridiculed but faced with praise and awards instead, seems like a dream come true. For Harper Lee, it was a horrible experience.
Another writer strives so hard to tell a story, hoping for praise and awards but receives ridicule…or even worse, is ignored. That too can be a horrible experience.
Either way, the passion is drowned by unacceptable and unintended consequences.
The ideas dry up. The story starts go nowhere. The writer walks away from the computer and heads for a walking trail with a new camera, or books a river boat cruise on the Rhine, or remodels the bathroom, or takes drumming lessons, or starts a business to sell her homemade handbags.
Is it any different from the surgeon who becomes discouraged with hospital politics and retires to his woodworking shop to handcraft dollhouses? Or the game software designer who throws in the towel and buys an urban farm to raise chickens, goats, and organic vegetables?
A passion is a passion until it’s not. That’s when it’s time to go do something else. Don’t worry about. It will come back, or it won’t. The notion that we only get one great passion in our lives and that we have to stick to it or die is just silly.
I’m getting older, and I have a lot of interests. I might want to make a change one of these days and “be done with” writing. It’s okay, because by then I’ll have a passion for something else. I already have a couple of ideas.
Kenneth Harmon says
I’m with you, Pat. I think it’s about time for me to head out to pasture and find a new hobby. If I was a horse, they’d probably shoot me to put me out of my misery.
Oops, guess I better stop telling you to “break a leg.”
julie Luek says
Pat, of course this totally resonated with me. Life threw one too many curve balls and necessitated that I go back to working full time. I can’t seem to muster the passion to write in my now limited “spare time”. And I’m really OK with that for now. Fortunately, although I liked writing and getting published, it wasn’t and isn’t tied to my ego (and by “ego” I mean my self-identity– not a bloated, narcissistic thing). I have so many interests, especially with the warmer (we can only hope) weather and being outdoors! I love to read, and have recently had fun diddling on an art journal (no talent needed, thank goodness). I may (or may not) pick up writing again or just confine it to my journal. In the meantime, I love cheering my writer friends on!
That’s a great way to look at it, Julie. It truly is when we wrap these “passions” up with ego that we get ourselves in trouble. Sometimes we just need to “let it go” — at least for now. Having a lot of interests certainly helps. Also having the courage to push back when other folks pressure us to do things we don’t want to do.
Like you, I’m looking forward to seeing some nice weather around here. I was really dragging with all that rain and the daily dreariness.
Margot Kinberg says
You ask an interesting and important question, Pat. I think it all has to do with being open to one’s own evolution as a person. I think if you see that you’re developing into a person who has other passions, you’re doing yourself a disservice not to explore those passions. For me, personally, writing is still my passion and I intend to continue doing it. But I’ve also learned never to say ‘never.’ You never know what life will bring.
That’s absolutely true, Margot. You just never know.
For me, it’s all about keeping my options open. I don’t want to go through life with blinders and ear plugs.
I also don’t think one is confined to only one passion at a time, regardless of those who caution against dissipating the energy of the primary goal. Perhaps that’s true for the athlete or gymnast who has Olympic gold on the brain, or a young ballerina who wants that prima ballerina spot in NYC. But for us regular writers, the broader our experience, the better.
April Moore says
Great post. I think the trick, at least for me, would be letting go and allowing myself to think that I might have a different passion. I’ll let myself think there’s nothing else . . . for now 😉
You have the key, though. You’re the one in control, April, so you get to choose.
Alex J. Cavanaugh says
I can relate! Music is a greater passion than writing right now, and if I don’t write another story, I am fine with that. I’ve been in five anthologies and had four books published. That is way beyond what I ever expected.
I did think of you when I was writing this post, Alex. I think if I had a talent in music, I’d go there next. I’ve been hankering to get back to a piano, but that’s just because it’s a challenge…there’s definitely no talent involved. The things that draw me the most are painting watercolors and photography. I’ve taken classes….after all, Grandma Moses started painting very late in life, right?