If you're in an existential state and you've not yet read Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach, don't. Or do.
I read it with the intention of immersing myself in only the story. I planned to finish -- it's only an afternoon's commitment -- and then promptly re-read it to wallow in his language. It's easy to do, Mr. McEwan is deft enough to make the strings fall away. I'd left time enough in my battered schedule to go back, that is until I reached the last page and was stopped. Minutes passed one into the next until they became hours, each moment wasted -- or not. Where's the time to think anymore? It was a single line that was the sum of the two hundred odd pages, at least for me: This is how the entire course of a life can be changed -- by doing nothing.
We've read the same sentiment a thousand times, but because I'm currently in the aforementioned existential state, it struck me to the core. Doing nothing is a choice just as much as doing something.
How many writers do you know who are plagued by inaction? Their complaints a litany of doing nothing: not enough time to write, too afraid to submit their work, indecisive about leaving an ineffectual agent, etcetera.
And then there are the ones who choose to create their opportunities. They choose again and again to make their work matter, first to themselves, then to anyone who will listen. They battle along against self-doubt and group-doubt, the fractured road to publication and then relevance. They choose to be heard and experienced and read.
Today, take a moment, choose to live outside of yourself for a bit, and then ask that person you're regarding, What do you choose to be the course of your life?