Is It Stress or Is It Passion?

Sometimes writing can feel a little like building a house specifically for the purpose of air to pass through its windows and doors. No human lives there and day and night, the sound that you put out echoes right back. You pour so much heart and soul into each and every single word  and send your writing out into the world, only for it to go unacknowledged or worse, unnoticed. It’s lonely sometimes and to the immature mind, this- the act of writing and releasing-can seem like such a foolish waste of time. Who in their right mind would spend hours  creating something only for it to wash down the internet drain like a pot of discarded pasta water?

Stress and passion. 

Anything you do out of passion will not feel discouraging. In fact, you will often take failures as directional signs that will helpfully point you on the right way. You may get lost once in a while, but you will always have a resolute determination to find your way home. Writing is my thing; the process of writing is my real reward and the recognition I get from others is just an extra bonus point to the intrinsic joy I get out of expressing myself through words. For others, it may be painting or making music or cooking.  The point is, whatever makes you come alive is never a form of punishment. It is will always feel like an interesting curiosity to be pursued.

This reminds me of the time we had just moved into our new home and I had to paint a sunshine yellow coat over my kids’ deep auburgine colored room. I painted and painted, one coat, then two, then three, and by the end of the day, I was fuming. I never wanted to see purple again. I never wanted to see paint again. I never wanted to touch a paint brush in my whole life ever again. I called up my artsy sister that night, hands and hair covered in specks of yellow, and told her of my frustration and exhaustion. “I wish I was there to paint that room!” she said excitedly. In her mind, a day painting was a day well spent.  To each their own, I guess.

Writing, like any other creative pursuit, is not about receiving. It’s about giving. When I put myself out there-when I write with honesty and authenticity-I am, in fact, offering to the world the best of myself. I often write with an annoying voice in my head screaming ‘failure! failure!failure!, but I write anyway because I know that not writing for fear of failing is actually the biggest failure of all. So fingers to keyboard, I tap away as lovingly as my fluttering heart can guide me.

“As a soul, you have the freedom – and earned responsibility – to transpose your personal process of evolution, to manifest your greatest talents and vision, into the work that matters to you most as a means to personal redemption.”
― Darrell Calkins

 

On writing honestly

writer

After a long absence from le blog, I’m back!

My laptop was broken (again) so I couldn’t write…erm, sort of.

The more accurate explanation is that I couldn’t write because writing about my thoughts is a terrifying ordeal. To expose myself to the world is as close as I’ll ever get to sky diving: the experience of falling into space (the internet) and not knowing how you’ll land (readers’ judgements). I am by nature a very honest person, but it’s really difficult to bare it all online. I think the success of some of the best bloggers and writers lies heavily on being able to balance what to reveal to the world-and thus connect truthfully to readers-and what to keep personal. This transparency balance is something that I struggle with A LOT in my writings so if anyone has any advice on how to get over this conundrum, I’m all ears.

As I await your comments, here’s one of my favorite poems that I’d like to share with you. It always inspires me to live more authentically and I hope it does the same to you:

The Invitation by Oriah

It doesn’t interest me

what you do for a living.

I want to know

what you ache for

and if you dare to dream

of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me

how old you are.

I want to know

if you will risk

looking like a fool

for love

for your dream

for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me

what planets are

squaring your moon…

I want to know

if you have touched

the centre of your own sorrow

if you have been opened

by life’s betrayals

or have become shrivelled and closed

from fear of further pain.

I want to know

if you can sit with pain

mine or your own

without moving to hide it

or fade it

or fix it.

I want to know

if you can be with joy

mine or your own

if you can dance with wildness

and let the ecstasy fill you

to the tips of your fingers and toes

without cautioning us

to be careful

to be realistic

to remember the limitations

of being human.

It doesn’t interest me

if the story you are telling me

is true.

I want to know if you can

disappoint another

to be true to yourself.

If you can bear

the accusation of betrayal

and not betray your own soul.

If you can be faithless

and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty

even when it is not pretty

every day.

And if you can source your own life

from its presence.

I want to know

if you can live with failure

yours and mine

and still stand at the edge of the lake

and shout to the silver of the full moon,

“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me

to know where you live

or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up

after the night of grief and despair

weary and bruised to the bone

and do what needs to be done

to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me

who you know

or how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand

in the centre of the fire

with me

and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me

where or what or with whom

you have studied.

I want to know

what sustains you

from the inside

when all else falls away.

I want to know

if you can be alone

with yourself

and if you truly like

the company you keep

in the empty moments.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,

from the book The Invitation

published by HarperONE, San Francisco,

1999 All rights reserved

The 500 word pledge

typewriter
It is 11pm. The clock is ticking and after a long and busy day, the bed is loudly calling out my name. I would have succumbed to its sweet siren except I made a pact today. It was an aspiring writers pact I made with my brother in law to write 500 words everyday in the attempt to be better bloggers, and thus better writers. We both have blogs that we had guiltily abandoned over the last few (gasp!) months and our attempts to write from inspiration had long withered.

“I haven’t been inspired lately”, he said.
“I don’t think writers wait to be inspired”, I said.

At this point I was really referring to a brilliant article I had read recently, penned by the beautiful Elizabeth Gilbert of the ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ fame.

“The more important virtue for a writer”, Ms. Gilbert points out, “is self-forgiveness.”

She had me at self-forgiveness.

I tend to flagellate myself pretty badly for my writing. The word ‘fraud’ comes to mind a lot during my writing process. There are so many great writers out there and how dare I, a common woman with no formal writing achievements, write. Also, I have a deep paranoia of placing commas in the wrong place in a sentence. And did I mention my strong need for privacy, thoughts included?

But I digress.

Liz (I think of her as my really cool and wise friend) continues “…your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. You will make vows: “I’m going to write for an hour every day,” and then you won’t do it. You will think: “I suck, I’m such a failure. I’m washed-up.” Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn’t take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness. One day, when I was agonizing over how utterly bad my writing felt, I realized: “That’s actually not my problem.” The point I realized was this – I never promised the universe that I would write brilliantly; I only promised the universe that I would write. So I put my head down and sweated through it, as per my vows.”

After sharing these words with my brother in law, we quickly came to the realization that we had caved into comfort; comfort in nonjudgement and in the perpetual vows of ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’. We wanted to develop better writing skills but like everything else, mastery comes after a lot of practice. To be good at something, you must do it consistently. The forgiveness part comes in when you fall short of your expectations. You may not be the world’s greatest ____ but to someone, your work may mean something. In my case, it was Haytham.

Today would have been like any other day for me. I would have gone to bed with the cloud of guilt hanging over my head, but instead I spent an extra half hour to string words into sentences; I transformed thoughts into words. I can sleep in peace. Today, I wrote.

501 words.

Additional:
Check out Haytham’s brilliant work over at his blog http://haythambhalo.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/five-hundred-word-pledge/. Give him some feedback and brotherly love-I am sure he will appreciate it!

Read the full excerpt of Elizabeth’s Gilbert timeless article on writing. No matter what you do professionally or recreationally, I promise you will be inspired. http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/thoughts-on-writing/

(photo credits:http://www.mamakatslosinit.com/blog/)