Jacqueline Patterson’s Key to Success
by Jacqueline Patterson @jacpatterson
“The more we work to help others,
the more we begin to enjoy the life we’re living.”
I raised my heavy-lidded gaze from the laptop screen and the quote on the coffee cup stared back at me. Like I really have time!
My eyes shifted to the blinking light on the phone, the sure indication that yet more messages were waiting for me.
I couldn’t take care of the rest of the world.
I turned my phone so I could no longer see the blinking light.
I had too much to do, too much to plan and consider and rewrite if I hoped to finish my book by my self-imposed deadline. After all, this was my story, my words, and that meant my work was most important, right?
And I wouldn’t let this distract me.
I turned back to my laptop, but my fingers were lead on the keyboard. I added a solitary word here, a phrase there, but my gaze continued to stray back to the quote.
“The more we work to help others . . .”
“No,” I said, and my voice was firm with resolve. “You will finish this story.” My friends would take care of themselves, the way they had a hundred times before. I would pray for them, then check up on them once I finished these edits. Surely things weren’t so severe they needed me right now.
I started at the half-empty page on the screen, and found myself rereading the words I had added since spotting the quote. Most were repetitions, rambling and distracted. How long had I been locked into this writing frenzy anyway? Days? Weeks? I couldn’t remember the last time I sought out contact with a friend other than with a quick writing question. I had simply burrowed away into my writing shell, where all that mattered was my story . . . and me.
As if friendship wasn’t even important.
But . . . Wasn’t it my duty to put my book first? After all, I was the one who went around reminding everyone they were the only ones who could write their story, and how would it look if I didn’t keep up my reputation for busyness? I shouldn’t step back from my writing. Even for an hour.
I had work to do.
I glanced between my laptop and my phone, my mind rebelling as I made my decision.
There would be time to work on my book later. I would always make time. There were no guarantees that all my friends would last until tomorrow.
The key to success was not to push myself forward, but to care for others. Even my writing was not for myself, as much as I wanted to hold to the comfort of that illusion. Why seek publication except to reach others?
It would be an empty journey without friendship. Without sharing dreams.
I closed my laptop and reached for my phone.
Jacqueline Patterson wrote her first book at the age of five: the tale of an assassin hen on the trail of a crafty fox. (OK, so the story wasn’t that epic, but the hen was mean.) That first story hooked her, and she hasn’t stopped since. She is currently editing Primate, the first book in her Forever in Time series, in the hope of publication . . . If she can ever convince herself that she’s found the perfect draft. Talk to Jacqueline about books, and she will be your friend forever. You can connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.
And Frankly, My Dear . . . That’s all she wrote!