A Portrait of the Artist at the Bookstore

On Friday, I went to the local cafe-bookstore, and I dedicated myself to a full day of writing.  I got there around 10:45 AM and I wasn’t going home until my boyfriend was going to pick me up on his way back from a family dinner, which I knew would probably be around 7:30 PM.  I was committed, and I felt great about it.

Except that I got there later than I wanted to.  And then the table I wanted in the cafe was taken.  And then my mom, who was going to meet me for a coffee and hang out for a while, had to leave as soon as she walked through the door to take care of an issue that had cropped up elsewhere.

But despite these setbacks and the heartbreaking lack of the corner table with the outlet, I ordered myself a salted caramel chai and I got to work.

And let me tell you, that chai was delicious.  I mean it was amazing.  It was the kind of chai people could write poetry about – the chai that brews in adversity, and all that sort of thing.  But despite the remarkable quality of my chai latte, I didn’t get much work done.  My mom ended up coming back when I’d only written a couple pages, and I spent the next hour-plus chatting and eating and otherwise ignoring the goals I’d set for myself.

However.  I am happy to say that after we got lunch at the food court in the mall next door, I returned to my post to find my corner table available once more.  I bought myself a simple cup of hot tea.  I plugged in my laptop.  I sprinted through the next few pages.

For the next four hours or so, I sat right there and I wrote.  Or at least, I alternated between writing and watching videos of other people talking about writing (but hey – that’s still pretty good for me).

My friends, I ended up writing ten pages that day.  That’s twice the number I usually do in a day!  I’m sure that’s not impressive by many standards, but for me that was quite a feat.  And when I was done, I bought myself the last slice of peanut butter cheesecake as a reward.

And it tasted awesome.  The sweet flavor of peanut-buttery success.

Not that I want these posts to be prescriptive or Ptolemaic, but as I’m writing this, I’m realizing something that I know will be helpful for me in the future, and maybe it will be helpful for anyone else seeing this too.  This day of mine serves as a good reminder: we can’t compare ourselves to others.  Success for me may not look like success for you, and vice versa.  We don’t need to accomplish the same as others in order to feel good about what we’ve done.  Set goals that challenge you but that, if you stretch, you can reach – and never feel bad about rewarding yourself when you succeed.

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