Sunday, June 8, 2014

I Have Two Small Dogs


“By now he had learned enough to know that when he was getting annoyed at somebody else, it was usually because there was something that he himself should be doing, and he wasn't doing it.”

Lev Grossman, The Magician King

“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”

Mark Twain

I have two small dogs, a poodle and a rat terrier, Max and Scampi respectively.  I like them
well enough, but they are also annoying.  They never leave me alone.  The oldest one is particularly needy.  She crawls in my lap, preventing me from writing.  If they haven’t seen me for a while and I pull into the driveway, they practically have embolisms running back and forth throughout the house, jumping on me, and whining almost hysterically until I take them outside.  The worst part is the staring.  They stare and stare until I take them out or give them a snack.  They don’t stop staring at me.  If I clap my hands once and loudly say, “No!” Max, the poodle, just sits there with his head bowed, but still staring.  Scampi will walk away, but she will look at me the whole time she’s leaving. Then she will go around the corner and continue staring.  The staring never stops.
This is what writing is like.  The staring never stops.  Only, it’s not dogs that are staring at me.  It’s the blank page.  It just looks at me and says, “Feed me.  Take care of me.”  Soon I can’t take it any longer and I start putting words on the page until I feel I have something worth sharing.  Sometimes I have to write a paragraph, or a page, until I get something that isn’t garbage, something I don’t have to delete.  The whole time though, my fear is whining at me, like my annoying little dogs.  My fear is saying, “That’s it.  You’re done.  You have nothing more to say.  Why are you doing this?  Stop!  Stop!  Stop!” 
So I deal with the staring and the whining. 
That’s the discipline of writing.  That’s the part that non-writers don’t see and the point where some aspiring writers quit.  That damn blank page doesn’t stop staring.  And the Enemy doesn’t stop whining.   This is the part that isn’t fun or romantic.  In addition, I also hear the following:
“You have no guarantee of success.  You could write hundreds of blogs and not make one bit of difference in your financial or artistic life.   And even if you do, it might be years from now.  Years!  Look at all the work you’ve done already.  It hasn’t made you a nickel.  And your audience is practically nil.”
So why do I do this?  Why do I tolerate this daily struggle?
I do this because I want to do this.  In some ways I need to do this.  In light of a recent blog, (http://robertf71.blogspot.com/2014/06/needs-and-wants.html) I use the word “need” carefully.  But I do need to do this.  I don’t even know why.  Writing fulfills something in my soul.  If I don’t write, then something is missing in me.  I feel a void.  This affects other areas of my life.  I’m less happy, more distracted, less focused.  I don’t know what to do with myself.  This is worse than the staring or the whining.
I need my Muse.
So I sit here and do this, once, twice, sometimes three times a day.  Occasionally I miss a day, but not very often.  Professional writers say to write every day and to write every day for three to four hours a day.  I’m not there yet, but I Keep Going.  This surpasses my desire for financial benefits or even an audience.  I just need to do this.  So I do.  I keep writing.  My hope is that it encourages others to keep moving in their Purpose. 
Not only do each of us need to live out our Purpose, the world needs us to do this.  People need each of us to do what we are called to do.  If I don’t do it, no one else will, at least not in the way I am supposed to do it.
This blog feels familiar, as if I’ve written some of this before.  Even that doesn’t matter.  The point is to write.  When I’m done, I’m going to read some more.  Then I’ll write again.  And again.  And again.  I will Get Started and Keep Going…no matter how much my dogs annoy me.