“Character is what emerges from all the little things you were too busy to do yesterday, but did anyway.”
Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966
“The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.”
“Give your dreams all you've got and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.”
Have you ever written something or created something or done something aligned with your purpose and felt like it was just crap? That’s what I feel now. I’m working on a blog on another page, designated as Document 1 by the program I’m using, and I’m thinking that it’s…. I don’t know…nothing new or original. It’s crap. I can’t even give it a name yet, so it’s Document 1. Now here I am on Document 2.
I feel like I need to breathe fresh air into my writing. I’m not sure what to do.
· Should I take the day off from writing?
· Should I go back and read it again and see if I can fix it?
· Should I publish it anyway and know that I will be fine and that it’s just one blog of many?
· Should I go for a walk or do something else?
· Should I just continue with this blog and see what happens?
· Should I ignore my feelings and just keep writing?
That brings me to my next list of questions:
· Where are my feelings coming from?
· Are they instinct or fear?
· Am I worried about what others might think?
· Are my feelings a sign that I need to work harder?
I’ve often said that feelings, by definition, are not wrong. But they’re not right either. I can honor them but I don’t have to be controlled by them. So even now, as I’m writing each word, pushing each word out actually as if I were pushing out gallstones, I keep working until I start “feeling it.” I don’t know what the writing process is like for other writers, but for me it’s just sitting here until I get it right, until I get my message. Honestly, it’s sometimes excruciating….
I mean, today is a holiday. I should be at the beach with my kids or seeing a movie or reading comic books or playing online games. I don’t need this pain or stress. I don’t need this pressure. Is my life not stressful enough that I have to add more stress, self-inflicted stress? And for what? Is anyone even reading this? I almost never get comments or affirmations. I’ll say this: writing, as much as I love it, is not always fun. It’s a grind. Sometimes it’s just lonely. Very lonely. I sit here by myself. No one can help me. No one can do this for me. This is my moment. I’m facing the bull in the arena, the opposing pitcher, the armed enemy on his territory, the other fighter in the ring who, by the way, is bigger, stronger and faster than me. I can step up or I can back down. I can fight back or I can run away. What’s worse is that even if I do step up, I may still take a beating.
I can’t even begin to articulate the frustration I’m feeling right now. Well, I can, but typing a list of expletives probably won’t help.
So I guess I just sit here and keep pouring out my angst and frustration until peace and joy come.
And this is what the writing process is like sometimes. This is what all creative processes are like. It doesn’t matter if I’m writing, spending time with my children, teaching, starting a business, painting, or counseling. Creativity and creation, as I’ve said before, come from the same root word. And very few creations come without costs.
What are the costs? They may be physical, as a woman giving birth. More often though, the cost is emotional. I have to die to myself. Let me give an example. Yesterday, I took my daughters swimming. It was hot and crowded and the best shady spots had been taken. Oh, and I had just found out that they had lost the pool key again and it will cost us $100 to replace a $7 piece of plastic. To reduce my irritability I was playing an online game on my phone. But my daughters kept saying, “Daddy, Daddy, look!” They needed me to watch some amazing trick they were doing in the water for the 100th time.
God bless me, because I don’t know why, but for once I did something right. I put down my phone and watched them and smiled at them and encouraged them as if they had just qualified for the Olympics or something. And the more I did this, the better I felt. The more I smiled at them, the happier I got. I remembered what little miracles they are and how both of them, and their older sister too, is each an amazing story. I thought of men in prison or at war or who are overwhelmed by work who would give anything to be able to watch their children play. I felt grateful and happy.
And that’s what writing is like, too. I feel grateful and happy to be here. Yes, it can be annoying and stressful and angst-producing. It can bring out my worst fears and my inadequacies…and it can heal them. That’s what love does. It heals. And the more I write or pay attention to my kids or do anything that aligns with my Purpose, the more I am healed.
So I was able to Started and Keep Going. Maybe later I’ll look at the Document 1 again and see it’s worth trying again. I’m just grateful I finished Document 2.