Embracing the Writing Life, Part 9

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Here it is. The final installment of Embracing the Writing Life, at least from the way Heather Sellers sees it in her book, Page After Page. We’ve discussed fear, where writing comes from, ways to get to that place and ways to use it. In the last post it was asked, when do we call ourselves a writer? Have you yet? If you have, high-five! If not, why not? If you’ve dived/slipped/toppled to the side of, “YES, I’M EMBRACING THE CREATIVE LIFE”, then read on . . . if not, perhaps the following post will offer inspiration and motivation.

“Find ways to develop self-awareness so you know what you do well-ice cakes, train dogs, cry, nurture parents, fall in love, grow climbing roses-you do a thousand things brilliantly, and if you don’t know what they are, you aren’t going to be able to become a true evaluator of your own work or other people’s . . . Sometimes you’re good. Sometimes you suck. You triumph. You err. Sometimes you are brilliant. And sometimes, in the exact same moment, you are wretched and foolish. You can practice being comfortable with the difference. You can know. This is not cocky or sassy or stuck-on-self. Let’s call it ‘awake’.” What a wonderful, and true, description of what embracing creativity is about. Being awake. I think you need to be conscious of the call, ‘awake’, or at least moving in that direction. An art-filled life can yank someone from ‘ho-hum’ to ‘good golly Miss Molly!’ But as I’ve said a million times before, we need to start from where we are, with what we have, and what we know.

What helps one to awaken? Perhaps ambition. “We get afraid of being successful because we are used to things as they are. Change, even good change, is very scary. Would we be us anymore if we took our writing more seriously? No. We wouldn’t. It’s a little like death . . . New you writes more. The new you gets good. The old guy, the nonwriter wanna-be, dies. We all say we want this, to be writers, but I can see why so few folks actually put the time in. You have to be very fearless to changes yourself. It’s not very comfortable. Ambition leads to different friends, different clothes, different habits, a different maybe unrecognizable you . . . Ambition is growth.” This could be the ambition that motivates us to strive for that prize at the far end of the ‘uncomfortable’ zone. It could be the ambition the inspires us to complete all the steps necessary to not only finish a novel (or painting or dance or musical composition or gourmet meal or sculpture), but to submit it to a competition, for reviews, for publication, to a gallery, to set our art free into the world. Maybe it’s the type of ambition that wipes away our excuses for not putting our butt-in-chair to do what we decided we were going to do.

So, where are we now? According to Sellers, we’re, “A wave suspended. That’s the state you’re trying to maintain as you . . . pursue your writing education . . . The longer you can stay in that completely open energetic moment, where everything is just about to come together, and there’s nothing you can do about it, that’s the moment where learning and growth transform you. To grow as a writer,  you grow as a person. There’s no way to work on one without the other.” I would differentiate between a wave suspended, and one that rolls towards the shore or perhaps one that crashes on the rocks, sending up great sprays of foam. Creativity is like that. Sometimes it rolls slow and steady, and sometimes it’s violent, taking hold of us and not letting go. I admit, occasionally, after writing a poem or completing a watercolor, I feel a little, or a lot, wrung out, as if my Muse was so frantic that I create, that there was no room for the softness, the ease. Maybe we’re the wave suspended as we gather strength to begin a new project.

“Successful writers defer judgment. They’re kinder to themselves and to other people. They’re hungry learners and supportive of other writers. They see our interesting ways to learn more about writing and art and literature, they go to the party, and contribute to the conversation! Successful writers look at their resistance to see what it’s telling them. They develop a healthy relationship to sitting alone in a room. They give in to bad moods and rely on invitation rather than whips and discipline to get their work done. Great writers write from their compost, their true material. They offer the reader their very best gifts, not the junky stuff anyone could pick up at the dollar store, but the rare material they’ve inherited, that they alone can tell.” This sums up a lot of what I shared from Sellers’s book. There’s a lot to being successful at embracing the creative life, and yet it’s very simple. A choice is all that’s required.

“You are a wave suspended. You are embarking on a whole new kind of writing life, one that feeds and enriches you and those around you. You will stay the course. You know how to do this, and you know where to find and how to use the tools that will keep you going.” There isn’t much to lose, and a whole lot to gain by embracing the creative life. Have suggestions to encourage others to follow what you’ve done? Leave it in the comments. Want to see what I’ve accomplished with my writing life? Check out my website www.myjoyenterprises.com Happy creating!

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