Open Journal: In Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss

“Should I be doing this?”

Will Scarlet glanced over to the bed from whatever imaginary thing had his attention. “Doing what?”

Danielle sighed. “Reading this book. Listening to this music station. Wearing these particular layers of hooded garments. ‘Doing this.’”

“Why not?” Allyn-a-Dale wondered, half-concealed behind the sunny window seat’s framing curtain, wholly invisible to anyone who didn’t happen to hold him in their imagination. “What else would you be doing otherwise?”

“I don’t know. A million things. Fixing lunch. Taking a walk. Practicing my lute repertoire. Going through my latest draft of #CamelotWIP. Working on a blog post.”

Will’s vision went momentarily meta. “Well, that last one’s actually happening now. But it never really matters what you’re doing, does it, Dani-babe? You always feel you should be doing something else.”

“Two to five something elses,” Danielle corrected. “Too much to do, not enough time or energy or selves to see it done. What I need is a squad of Deshipley clones.”

Allyn’s lips twitched faintly upward. “So they could all moan over each hour as somehow wasted?”

Danielle snorted a laugh. “On rotation, yes.”

“No time is wasted in the pursuit of your bliss,” Will declared.

Dubious, Allyn asked, “Does she have a bliss?”

“Nobody has a bliss, Allyn,” Will said patiently. “Which is why it must be pursued. Now, Danielle, let’s approach this rationally, since I hear that’s a thing people do. Reading a YA novel from the library whilst smooth jazz plays: Does this spark joy?”

Does It Spark Joy

Danielle arched a brow at him. “Not sure the Marie Kondo tidying method translates to the organization of leisure time.”

“Sure it does! Or it should,” Will maintained. “Chores and day jobs aside, if you’re not having fun with a thing, why keep it up? This is your weekend. Your de-stress time.”

“But trying to de-stress is stressful,” Danielle fretted.

Will sighed voluminously. “Darling, I love you, but ugh.”

“One moment at a time, then,” said Allyn. “Danielle, what do you want to do? Not ‘today’, not ‘this afternoon’, not ‘with your life’; just right this moment.”

“This moment? I want… to review my German.”

“Really?” said Will, in honest surprise. “But you haven’t touched your German lessons on Duolingo since… well, since you switched to Italian, which you haven’t touched in ages, either. Why German? Why now?”

“I don’t know.” Danielle shrugged. “I miss it. Not just living in Germany, but reaching to internalize the language. …Not that I ever succeeded,” she brooded.

“There’s success, and there’s SUCCESS,” said Will.

Allyn asked, “Which is which?”

“Easy. The all-caps one is the version that comes with money and legacy and whatnot. Whereas little successes include taking baby steps to challenge or improve yourself or whatever. Example: When everything stresses you out, but you keep looking for different ways to cope and semi-enjoy your existence anyway.” His smile for Danielle was vividly fond. “That’s a little success you achieve on the regular. So go ahead and brush up on your German. And when that stops sparking your joy, go back to your book, or get lunch, or change into a super stylin’ outfit that no one outside will probably get to see. You’re in the driver’s seat. Pick a direction and punch it!” Will took a break from his non-stop pep talk to breathe and look hopeful. “Feeling inspired, yet?”

“…As opposed to merely caught up in a fictional conversation that could have come straight out of ‘Inspired’?” said Allyn.

“Yes and no,” said Danielle. “The struggle goes on, but I need these reminders. Like, frequently. So thank you for delivering this one in a way that met my nagging need to come up with a blog post.”

Will Scarlet winked. “It’s what we do, babe.”

Allyn smiled in agreement. “Call it our little success.”

Easy as German

In preparation for my eventual move to Germany (yes, that’s happening), I’m making an effort to learn the local language – resource of choice thus far, Duolingo.com.

It’s been a fun challenge. Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache*, but es ist noch kein Meister von Himmel gefallen**, and all that.

*An expression I’m told means “German is hard”.

** Literally, I think it means something about how we don’t fall from heaven already having mastered everything; figuratively, “Practice makes perfect.”

“Eine Zeitung” = a newspaper
“Eine Zeitung” = a newspaper

I’ve noticed something, though. When I first started my Duolingo lessons, I didn’t have much trouble getting everything right. “Hooray!” cheered Early Me. “Das ist einfach!” [“This is easy!”] But as the weeks went on, with me diligently plugging along every day, making langsam [slow] but steady progress, I seemed to be making bothersome little mistakes more often, and having trouble remembering all the words I learned.

“Doggone it!” Later Me gnashes her teeth. “Whatever happened to the saying about the Himmel Meister? C’mon, Danielle – make perfect!”

But it makes sense, really. The more you know, the more there is to forget. And the further along you get in a learning venture, the higher your expectations for yourself, meaning it takes less and less to make you feel like you’re dropping the ball.

Or is that just me?

“Du bist normal” = You are normal. “Sie sind schlecht” = They are bad.
“Du bist normal” = You are normal. “Sie sind schlecht” = They are bad.

It’s certainly not just me and German. It applies to writing, too.

In my early authorial years – age 5 through 18 or so – writing was a breeze. The words flowed easily almost without fail. The characters’ dialogue practically wrote itself. The plots just happened, no weeks or months of brain-racking preparation required. And revision? Who needed that? These books came out practically ready to sell themselves!

Haaaaaa-hahahahahahaaaaaaaa… *sniffs* *wipes eyes* Ouch, my sides …

“Wir sind schön und wichtig!” [“We are beautiful and important!”] he informs you. “Also, Ich habe Hunger. Hey, Danielle, I know we’ve had one, but what about second Frühstück?”
“Wir sind schön und wichtig!” [“We are beautiful and important!”] he informs you. “Also, Ich habe Hunger. Hey, Danielle, I know we’ve had one, but what about second Frühstück?”
Writing used to be easy because, unbeknownst to me, I was writing glorious, golden garbage. Another third of my life later, I now have a better idea of all the ways I can craft a story wrong. And that makes writing much, much harder.

Nevertheless, there is something else learning German and continuing to learn how to write have in common: I’m in it for the long haul!

#Schreibe [#amwriting]