It doesn’t matter how long we may have been stuck in a sense of our limitations. If we go into a darkened room and turn on the light, it doesn’t matter if the room has been dark for a day, a week, or ten thousand years — we turn on the light and it is illuminated. Once we control our capacity for love and happiness, the light has been turned on. – Sharon Salzberg
I forgot to mention in my last post on mountain biking that I have decided on a name for my bike. I had considered Blacky, Hi-Ho-Silver, or Daisy May (cuz my helmet has daisies on it).
Then it came to me, in a flash of inspiration — Sybil! (after the woman with multiple personalities). I figure this is fitting since my mountain biking ventures have been fraught by a battle between my adventurous, daredevilly-self and my frightened, expect the worst-self who hears her mother-self yelling at her “You could put your eye out!”
Okay. Now onto more serious stuff.
I’ve been playing catch up lately on reading people’s blogs. I’ve recently started following more blogs owned by writers and photographers, searching for tips and ideas on how to grow and give in to the way my passion in these areas has kidnapped my brain and sent it on a wild whitewater ride.
One of the blogs I’ve been reading that has contained a great deal of insights into the writing life is a blog by Theodora Goss. In her post “The Inner Life” she wrote:
- You need to live an imaginative life, just in general. Spend the day going around and imagining. Don’t worry, you’ll still look perfectly normal. No one will realize that you’re imagining a stranger on the T as the Grand Inquisitor.
- You need to believe in the importance of your own writing. That deep and fundamental belief will allow you to have the faith you need to put in the hours. The many, many hours.
- You need to make writing a habit, a regular practice. That’s the way you’ll be able to, consistently, sit down and write. Some people may not need to do this, may be natural geniuses, I don’t know. I rather doubt it? But I know that I need to.
Number 2 is a big one for me — believing in the importance of my writing. There are so many writers trying to get themselves published out there. Does the world really need one more? If such great talent is struggling, who do I think I am that anyone will publish my book. And if I manage to make it that far, who will want to read it?
I have a hard time getting rolling and sticking to a schedule. I’m so easily distracted. Like yesterday, rather than write, I did some design work on my blog. Granted adding some share buttons and a Twitter follow button were on my list of things to do and I felt pretty good when I finally figured out how to add these things, but that effort should have come after I did my writing. As usual, I ran out of time to actually write.
Writing my book – not my blog, not email, not a To Do list – is what’s going to move me closer to my goal of completing said book. All the rest is just window dressing. I’m in danger of becoming the “Emperor With No Clothes”.
Yet, I feel that I need to produce some shorter pieces because I need to get published and I can’t wait for the book to get done. Some would say this is wrong-thinking. In fact, every time I’ve tried to publish a shorter piece I’ve been told it doesn’t work. But those were book excerpts and perhaps they did not work alone.
As Theodora Goss said in her post, “The more you write, and particularly the more you publish, the more you will believe in the importance of your own writing. (Because that reinforcement really does help.)”
I agree. After floundering around for this long, I need proof of my writerly legitimacy. It doesn’t matter that I SHOULDN’T need it. At this point I do need it. I don’t care where I’m published. I don’t care about being paid. I just want to be able to say “Maery’s work has been published in the ‘Timbuktoo Newsline’, the chapbook ‘The Lost Cowgirl’, the photo journal website ‘Look What I Saw!’ and the anthology ‘Don’t Mess with Mama Bear: stories by mother’s of gay children’.” or some such list like that.
Another thing that Goss wrote is: … writing is not a hobby, not something you can do on the side. Not if you want to do it well. It’s something that will become your life, that will determine how you look at the world, relate to others – relate even to yourself, because you will live in part by the shore of the sea of imagination, which is a magical place to live but also means that you will only ever be half in the ordinary world. Half of you will be elsewhere. And that will be disconcerting to the people around you.
There have been periods where ending a writing session has left me as groggy as if I am just awakening from a deep sleep. I look around trying to remember where I am and to pull myself back into the world I see around me.
Writing, doing the real work of it, is a risk. I don’t want to fail, and I don’t want to lose the personal relationships I’ve gained in the past couple years.
But I’ve learned a few things about balance. I believe that in order for your writing to be interesting, your life has to be interesting. You need to keep exposing yourself to new challenges and exeriences, refining the skills and knowledge you have, but not be so busy that you don’t notice the hand on your shoulder, the bark on the trees, or the darkly rich smell of coffee filling the house.
Picture me standing on the high diving board, looking down into a glassy pool of water below. I don’t know how to do a fancy dive. But I can jump in — feet first.