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Showing Up

>It’s a principal that I’ve always believed in…showing up.

Very early in my writing, I developed a routine. Back when I didn’t work as much as I do now, I got up with the kids, got them off to school and headed to my local McDonalds where I had an easy, cheap breakfast and a place to sit and write as long as I wanted (with free refillable drinks).

This may sound organized or disciplined or whatever…but it evolved out of a different need. My need to get away from the everyday demands of the household. And after a very short time, it became my own little social mecca. All the regulars, all the staff, knew me and I knew them. After years of writing, we’re more like an extended family than strangers eating at a local McDonalds.

I continued to return to the restaurant regularly for the camaraderie, the distraction, the space to be alone, yet not be alone while I toiled through the latest WIP. What I found was that simply showing up and opening the laptop screen was more productive than I ever imagined. Every day I did that–even if I’d only done it for the pretense of having a reason to sit there–proved productive. Some days, I’d simply read over my work and think about it. Some days I’d plot because the prose wouldn’t flow. But many days–most days–I wrote. And on those days, amazing things happened. Unexpected plot twists, previously unconsidered character depth, the random appearance of theme that deepened the work materialized.

All because I showed up.

On an odd parallel: I’ve been on a steep learning curve when it comes to my photography hobby. I’ve got a great camera. A ton of accessories. Haunt Internet photography tip sites. Have taken classes from professionals. Yet, my photos are consistently…less than what I expect.
Yesterday on the way home from a strenuous rafting trip, I was daydreaming out the window as my husband drove and my kids slept. The sky was an interesting mix with an incoming storm. As the sun started to drop, it became even more beautiful. For a fleeting second I thought, “I need to photograph this.” Then I thought, “No. Too much work. I’m too tired. Just going to enjoy the beauty.”

As I ogled the sky, I asked my husband, “My camera isn’t sitting around here somewhere, is it?” He said, “Yeah, it’s right here.” So I picked up my little point and shoot (b/c the really nice one was packed away) and took some quick shots through the passenger’s window. Just because. Just to be there. And this was one of the shots I came out with.

It was me, being there, making that extra effort just to “show up” so-to-speak that created this photo. Not the subject. Not the equipment.

So I keep showing up, because these are the little gems that make it all worth the effort. In photography, in writing, in life.