I expect so much of myself, always have. I’m not sure where this drive came from… Growing up around people who had little to no ambition, combined with always wanting to be opposite to everyone else, perhaps? It was common in my circle of family and family friends for people to have dead dreams they dragged around, like old withered left arms that could no longer lift anything. Some spoke of what they had long ago wanted from life so often it became a continual refrain that was more real to me than the lives they were actually living. Others never spoke of it at all—although you can’t help but notice a dead and withered arm—so I am not sure which is worse.

My drive is so focused on the one thing I want (to be a “writer”), some might say too focused. My ambition doesn’t expand to involve my job, or my health, or my social life, even or the world around me. I can’t even have two creative outlets (I stopped photography after college, when I moved to New York to study writing). I have total tunnel vision.

I have a hard time keeping up with myself most days. The voice in my head wants me to go-go-go, write brilliantly at every beat, produce a book every few months, eat and drink and breath words and nothing else and never-ever get caught staying up late to watch Nip/Tuck on TV (and the show has gone batty anyway, my driven self adds—she’s right).

So here I am, early morning, my favorite table in my favorite Starbucks, wedged into the corner, my headphones in to drown out the sultry Sinatra with Elliott Smith. The gang of cross-dressers who rule this neighborhood at night are here, fighting. I am trying not to listen in. I am trying not to look at the clock. I am trying to not be writing this post. I have been working on the same story for weeks now, a small story that keeps getting longer and longer, a quiet story, a distraction really, and I’m only writing it because I had a dream about how to finish it and I am driven, absolutely driven, to see it through.

I will be very disappointed in myself if I give up before reaching the end. So I must keep going. I mean, what if I give up and then my driven self locks my writing self in the basement for a week as punishment because she is so utterly disappointed? She’s scary. Really, it’s only because she doesn’t want me to fail and have to spend the rest of my life dragging around a dead arm. She cares. And I can’t fault her for that.

2 thoughts on “Ambition

  1. Wow, Nova, that image of a lost dream as a withered arm is so powerful. It makes me want to turn up at my writing page right now (just have to feed and water and bathe and soothe three people first). Thanks for making me think of the horror of having regrets.

  2. Nova – sometimes we have to live life to have experiences to express in our various creative outlets. So, sometimes it’s not just focus on our “task” (in your case, writing), but enjoying and exploring every moment that might, somehow, be shaping your next piece.

    Charlotte – good to see you here. I thought a bit of you as I read this – I don’t know why. But, I did edit your MustardCast last night and should post today or tomorrow. . .

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