Dear Universe, Message Received.
Last night, I was folding laundry in the basement while my husband was cleaning homebrew equipment. We had a conversation that went something like this…
Me: “I don’t know what my problem is. I can’t finish a book. I can’t bring myself to write. When I wrote A Game of Truths and Aster, they flowed out of me. I couldn’t NOT write them. It’s like I felt open to whatever it is that gives me the stories and now I’m all clenched and closed off.”
Hubs: “Well, it seems like you’ve been only been concerned with marketing lately.”
Me: “Yeah. And I hate it. I wish I was a more businessy person.”
Hubs: “But then you probably wouldn’t be as much of a creative person.”
Earlier in the day, I had watched a show about Nikola Tesla and there was a section relating to this quote, “My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists.”
I know it exists too. I know this is where my stories come from. I’ve never felt like I knew where my stories were going when I wrote them but I was being led there by something.
C.S. Lewis -“I never exactly made a book. It’s rather like taking dictation. I was given things to say. ”
This quote describes how I used to feel when I wrote. I always told my husband that I felt like I was just a transcriptionist to whatever it was that was passing the story on to me.
Those two books flowed out of me with such ease. It was wonderful. A gift. Pure joy.
But then I started to let things I was hearing and reading press down on me. I got wrapped up in a thick layer of “shoulds” and opinions that I took for facts.
- A writer should write every day.
- A real author is one who is published by one of the Big Five
- There is a formula to writing a good story
- One must plot out their story or it’s likely to end in disaster
I let all these things sink in deep. I started to try to change the way I wrote and change what my goals should be. I started to query agents. I let myself read articles that bash indie authors. I concentrated on marketing. I attempted to plot out my stories. When I did all these things, there was only one thing that happened.
I no longer felt connected to that thing that guided me and I was no longer able to finish a book. It has been a year since I’ve finished writing anything that I felt superbly proud of.
Writing has lost its joy. It no longer feels like a gift but a chore.
All these things might be true for others. I’m sure there is no right way to do things. Because we’re all different. But these weren’t right for me.
Robert Frost said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
What about if there is no joy in the writing? I must imagine that it will bring about no joy in the reading.
The marketing has made me feel miserable. Finding readers. Feigning confidence about my work. Shelling out dollars that I worry will never come back. Feeling like I’m only taking resources away from my family on a career that will never take off. It makes me feel squeezed and scrunched and miserable. And I imagine a clenched body and mind is easily cut off from the energy swirling around me that I was once so easily able to tap into.
After talking with my husband, I decided that I was no longer going to go ahead with my plan to pressure myself to write more that night. Instead, I plopped down on the couch and decided to watch something from my always-growing, never-shrinking list of things I wanted to watch on Netflix.
I chose WALT BEFORE MICKEY.
The failure. The struggle. The hope. The creativity. The joy. The despair. They all resonated with me.
I oftentimes let myself feel like a failure. But what’s so wrong with failure anyway? “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” -Walt Disney.
I doubt there are many people who have big dreams and passions that don’t get their teeth kicked in and their guts ripped out along the way. But they push through the pain because it’s what matters to the soul. You only get this one life so you should push through obstacles and always be reaching for your dreams. Shouldn’t you? Otherwise, wasn’t it all a waste of precious time?
Walt Disney started out in a barn and still believed in himself. Yet I, starting out with a Small Press, still let “others” bully my belief that I’m a “real” author. We all have to start somewhere. Who cares where that is? Why do people bash indie authors so? No one says, “Really? That local band is playing and they’re really good? Well, they don’t have a record deal so I’m not going to the show.” Or, “Wow, that painting is beautiful, but it was done by a local artist. It all of a sudden looks less beautiful to me. I don’t want it.” Am I really going to let people tell me what I am because of how I start? Am I going to forget about the people that do believe in me? I need to trust in and appreciate those who do and not concern myself with those who don’t.
And during the movie, the thing that jolted me up off the couch most was when Walt said to his brother Roy, “I spent so much time doing the business that it cut some of the creative part out of me.”
Amen! Yes! That spoke to my heart.
Maybe someday, I’ll find someone like Roy who can help me out with the business side. I still have to do it for now but I’m not going to push myself so hard.
In the shower (one of the places I do all my best thinking. I think it has something to do with the water) I had an image come to me of a flower. Tightly closed – there are no bees. But open, the bees find the flower. I need to open up again. To the energy. And maybe if I do that, the bees will represent the readers. I may not be business minded but I know this much – if I keep closed off and I try to work in a way that doesn’t suit me, all I will be able to produce will be bad stories. And then no matter how much I market, I’ll never find readers.
So, for now, I’m going to make my focus on relaxing and trusting that I can reset my dial to tap back into that frequency that broadcasts the stories I love to transcribe. I’m going to live in my joy. I’m going to believe in myself. I’m going to keep moving toward my dreams. And I’m certainly going to stop kicking myself in the teeth.