The Soul of the Matter: “To comprehend a nector requires sorest need…”

Sometimes we need a kick in the pants to wake us up to everything we’re taking for granted. Too often, it’s what we “need” that we see most clearly, or what we think is being denied us or what we don’t think we’ll ever have. It’s the comprehending that we’re missing with the rest of our lives. The seeing most clearly what is ours or could be or wants to be, only we neglect the beauty of what is, in preference for the potential of what might be.

beauty flowers

It doesn’t have to be fancy, to catch our eye. What matters simply has to be our obsession, and once it becomes that we can’t look away. It’s true for what we covet, and it can be true for what we have as well.

I often times (read: always) write about characters that can’t see their “nows” because they’re too fixated on what’s missing from their past and what they think the need in their futures.My first novel’s working title was Forever Ago, and it was the very first time I put down on paper my personal philosophy that a person must reach back to before and deal with what’s been most avoided their entire lives, before what she’s meant to be can flourish as she lives forward. I think I’ve been writing about that same dynamic my entire career, in one way or another.

But with recent projects, particularly with Christmas on Mimosa Lane, it’s the impact of our inability to appreciate what we’ve made for ourselves in the now that fascinates me. We’re on a path now. We’re living now. We have so much NOW. Why is it so difficult most days to live here, in the present? Why is that path hardly ever something that we appreciate–until it’s threatened and becomes our obsessions only when we might lose it?

beauty stream path

I selected the above quote from Emily Dickinson to head one of my chapters, because my protagonist is in just that place. And because I believe most of us are. We see what we feel we need to conquer. We see what’s causing us the most anxiety or pain or fear. Why, WHY don’t we also see what’s sitting right before us, waiting for us to treasure it, as ours–until it’s practically too late?

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires the sorest need.

Fame and success and lacking and lusting for more are themes in Dickenson’s poetry. Since I’ve been obsessed with her work since childhood, it’s not a mystery that the same emotional journeys run strongly through my novels and characters.And at a glance, you might say this poem and much of my writing deals with failure. Or does it tackle the truth behind what it really means to find success?

COML and all my books about about choosing to be happy and safe and secure, wherever we are. Needing where we are more than we let ourselves lust for the success we’ll never have or the need we’ll never fulfill.And keep in mind, I’m a competitive, Type-A personality who will always be driven to fight and work my ass off and succeed. That will never change, and I wouldn’t want it to. But I do want, for myself and my family and friends and readers, the capacity to enjoy what’s already been achieved. To revel in the now we’ve captured for ourselves. To want and be grateful for want is, which can too easily be impossible of all we’re focused on is the past or the future and never on this place where we find ourselves in this moment. This new beginning–the theme I chose when I selected my author logo: a butterfly (the eternal symbol of metamorphosis and new beginnings).

beauty butterfly

As I write this, Christmas on Mimosa Lane is selling in a wildly successful way that’s quite frankly freaking me out. AND I’m writing it’s sequel, which will be out next summer. It would be so easy to see this latest upswing in my career as a coincidence or something to fear that I’ll never be able to repeat. Or, I could find joy in this moment, in this journey and path I’m on, and fall in love all over again with my Mimosa Lane characters and the new adventure we’re embarking on as I write forward.

The choice is mine.

The choice is yours.

What will we count sweetest today. What will be the nectar we understand best: what we’ve achieved, or what we’ll never, ever have?

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