“You don't start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it's good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.
That's why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
Octavia E. Butler
“Being in the mood to write, like being in the mood to make love, is a luxury that isn't necessary in a long-term relationship. Just as the first caress can lead to a change of heart, the first sentence, however tentative and awkward, can lead to a desire to go just a little further.”
Julia Cameron, The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life
“It's all mine, it's all sacred.”
Coco J. Ginger
I do NOT feel like writing this morning. I feel like I pulled a writing muscle by writing three blogs in one day yesterday. But here I am. And I’m happy to be here. Eventually I will figure out what I’m supposed to say, but until I do I will just keep writing. Writer Dorothy Parker said, “I hate writing. I love having written.”
I love writing; what I hate is not knowing what to write. Maybe I’ll free-write until something occurs.
It’s hot right now. Today in San Diego, Chicago and Ankara, Turkey, it will be about 83°. It was the same yesterday and it has been for the last few days, but it’s felt a lot worse. I don’t do well in hot weather. When I was a kid, the hot weather used to give me nosebleeds and…
I find it ridiculous that I’m writing about the weather. Is that what this has come to? Do I really have nothing else to say? Maybe before I start writing I should do one of the following things:
· Read a book for inspiration.
· Read one or more of my own blogs for inspiration.
· Clean my place.
· Call a friend and ask for a topic.
· Call Steven Pressfield, the man who refuses to be my mentor, yet inspires me nonetheless, and shamelessly beg him again to help me, despite his polite but firm refusals.
· Go for a walk.
· Refill my coffee cup.
· Continue writing this list to the point of embarrassment.
This is what it’s like, folks. This is Purpose. It’s the part of Purpose that no one likes to talk about, the part where I just keep moving until I am done, until my message comes. It’s not romantic. It’s not fun. If I were in a movie, there might be some cool music playing in the background and the movie would show a second or two of me hunched over a keyboard. It wouldn’t show the actual amount of time it takes to write and rewrite and edit this. The movie would be inspirational and people might be cheering me on as they munch on their $7 box of popcorn. A few might be inspired to take action. Fewer actually would take action. But this isn’t a movie.
No one is cheering me on. No one is watching. Well, God and the Muse are watching. They’re waiting to see what I do with this time and how I get through this. They are also cheering me on. And they’re helping me…sort of…but I’m the one who has to sit here and get it done. The world is watching, too…as long as I have something worth showing.
My place is hot and there’s a baby crying nearby and I wish someone would feed it or change it or play with it. There are people nearby opening and closing doors and talking. I wish they would go away. Of course, if they do, then I’ll be deprived of the excuse that I need absolute quiet to do my work. If they stop talking, then I won’t have an external reason for not staying focused. I will have to look within. I don’t want to do that because all that will do is lead me to uncomfortable conclusions like diligence, commitment, and keeping my word to myself.
I suppose I could blame my ADHD for my inability to produce. But really, that’s just another external factor. I like to think my ADHD is internal, “a marketing ploy,” as Pressfield calls it, but I can still make a choice to write. More accurately, I can make hundreds of choices, one every moment, to write the next sentence, the next word.
My only hope is that someone will read this and take heart. I hope it will give others either pause or encouragement. First I hope it gives readers pause. Once I commit to my Purpose, there is no turning back. This takes courage, I suppose, though I’m reluctant to call myself courageous. The truth is I simply decide what makes me more afraid: doing my work or going back to being the person I was before I started writing. I think if people walk in Hell, they only move backwards, never forward. I am not courageous. I am just afraid of the hell of moving backwards in my life. Fortunately, this fear comes before the writing. Once I begin writing, it seems to vanish.
I also hope it will give others encouragement, for the same reason. Sometimes someone successful says, “If I can do it, anybody can do it.”
I hate that expression.
I realize that it’s meant to encourage. It’s meant to say, “I’m just an ordinary person, nothing special. I’m not above you or greater than you.”
While well intentioned, it’s not true. The moment someone commits to his Purpose, he is no longer ordinary. She is now special. He is greater than the rest of humanity who have decided to stay home and do nothing with their lives. The moment she commits to her calling is the moment she joins the pantheon of heroes. Every moment he keeps going allows him to stay in that pantheon.
So am I special because I write or create art or start my business or work with children or follow my life’s calling? Yes. Am I greater? I don’t know, but I certainly feel great.
I often end by saying, “All I have to do is Get Started and Keep Going.” “All” is a self-contradictory word though, meaning both big and little. It’s a big word because it means everything. Complete. Total. It’s also a small word – three letters. It’s a small decision to move forward. It’s small and quiet and it only takes a moment. And it’s probably the biggest decision you’ll ever make in your life. So it’s not an easy one. But it’s still better than Hell. Being in Purpose is better than just about anything.