My daughter had her first dance class the other day. Bunch of three- and four-year-olds doing tap and ballet and tumbling in a wonderfully old and rickety studio. It was a sight.
I was sitting by the door to the dance floor, as there were more parents than seats in the lobby. When class ended, those kids hurtled for the door. And when the door opened, it slammed right into my kneecap.
And in the midst of stumbling through the chaos to the nearest trash can, I thought, “Well, now I know how it feels to hurt so bad you throw up. That’ll come in handy when I’m writing this scene in my WIP.”
Thankfully, I held it together and managed to not vomit in the middle of everybody. But it was a close thing. And once I had limped out to the car to let my knee throb in peace, I had to laugh at myself. Who thinks of their fictional characters when their knee feels like it’s been shattered in a million pieces?
But it’s those moments that make me feel good about being an author. And it reminds me of this story about the son of renowned scientist Henry Eyring working on a difficult physics problem:
“My father was at a blackboard we kept in the basement. Suddenly he stopped. ‘Hal,’ he said, ‘we were working this same kind of problem a week ago. You don’t seem to understand it any better now than you did then. Haven’t you been working on it?’”
A little chagrined, Hal admitted he had not. “You don’t understand,” his father went on. “When you walk down the street, when you’re in the shower, when you don’t have to be thinking about anything else, isn’t this what you think about?”
“When I told him no,” [Hal] concludes, “my father paused. It was really a very tender and poignant moment, because I knew how much he loved me and how much he wanted me to be a scientist. Then he said, ‘Hal, I think you’d better get out of physics. You ought to find something that you love so much that when you don’t have to think about anything, that’s what you think about.’”
I love this story, first because this dear man seriously and honestly asks, “Don’t you think about physics in the shower?” But mostly because of that final line: “You ought to find something that you love so much that when you don’t have to think about anything, that’s what you think about.”
I feel truly blessed to have had this passion and love for books and writing since I was a small girl. Even though it can be draining and frustrating and terrifying, it brings me so much joy and satisfaction. This is what I think about whenever I have a free moment.
I sincerely hope each and every one of you has something in your life that you love that much. If you do, feed it, grow it, let it flourish. If you don’t, go out and find it. It will make your life that much more complete.
So what do you think about when you don’t have to think about anything?