I Dare You

“When love first happens, the individuals are giving each other energy unconsciously and both people feel buoyant and elated. That’s the incredible high we call being ‘in love.’ Unfortunately, once they expect this feeling to come from another person, they cut themselves off from the energy in the universe and begin to rely even more on the energy from each other–only now there doesn’t seem to be enough and so they stop giving each other energy and fall back into their dramas in an attempt to control each other and force the other’s energy their way.”  ― James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy

Being an author isn’t about obtaining a certificate,  reaching a certain status, or achieving a coveted literary/genre award. Some will tell you that it is. I will tell you otherwise. I will also tell you, not only why it isn’t so, but why it is of utmost importance that you don’t think of yourself or your calling in this way.

First of all, the grass is always always always greener. It’s easier than a two dollar whore to fall into the mindset of, ‘When I am published I’ll be happy … when that critic in my online group finally gives me his or her approval, I’ll be happy … when I finish THIS novel in particular, this project in particular, I’ll be happy.’ But, being a creative individual and an author doesn’t work that way. We aren’t static individuals with a linear path. Our existence is all over the map. We wander, we peruse, we journey. What we don’t do … ever … is sit still. We are forged of only the strongest kind of energy, that borne of sweat, blood, tears, body, soul and sorrow. This creative energy can, and needs to be harnessed or else it can either drive you mad, sap your somatic energy, or block your daily functional flow. Sound like yah-yah kind of nonsense to you? Give me a second and let’s see if I can’t clarify this a little more.

Have you ever thought to yourself, ‘If I don’t write, right-damn-now, I’ll explode’? I have. Loved ones have expressed similar thoughts. That’s the build-up of your creative energy. Most people will see that feeling as merely the byproduct of needing to find an outlet through which to express the tension.

I propose a slightly different view on the matter … (shocker, huh?)

What if this energy doesn’t build so much like water building pressure behind a damn, but flows like a river? Yes, writer’s block could be explained as the damn and would therefore cause the tension, right? Too easy … way too damn easy. I see it like this—most damns are not natural, they are man-made. As holistic authors, we’re not the structured type. We see our world as one fluid, cohesive plane of existence. So, why would this energy be any different? In other words, you’re not channeling energy like one would try to force water to go a certain way with a damn. We are building our creative lives around the water source and reveling in its existence every hour of every day, whether we are actively wading in it or not.

Why is this slight distinction important? Isn’t energy just energy?

No. Not at all. The difference is labor and the wasting of precious moments spent trying to steer something powerful enough to steer itself. When we first realize, or come to find, that we are authors … that we can craft worlds from the use of language … we feed off of that natural energy much like two lovers feed off each other’s energy. After awhile, we become accustomed to that energy and we rely on it alone to feed us. Eventually, if we aren’t careful, we’ll come to ‘fall out of love’ because of how little energy our simply ‘being an author’ now gives us on a daily basis and, though we don’t so much as give credence to the thought, we come to resent it somewhat. It is a ‘need’ that builds like water behind a damn, and unless handled, will tear us apart from the inside out.

That’s when the manipulation begins. We set ourselves up for failure by leveling goals at our creative selves, under the guise of aspirations, and somehow along the line we forget why we fell in love with writing in the first place. It becomes less about the story, and more about the act of writing itself. It’s not the life that the water brings, but the frequency of flow, the perceived quality of the water, the efficacy of its mineral content.

In other words, relax. The water will flow. Allow it to do so naturally, and you’ll find a rhythm that follows you throughout your days and nights, no matter how many different hats you wear, no matter how many worlds you step in and out of on a daily basis. How does one go about accomplishing this? Depends on your river. It can also be compared to prayer. The mindset differences there are either setting aside only specific times to be with the divine (whatever that may be for you, or whomever that may be), or being in constant commune with the spiritual no matter what you are physically doing.

You’re writing, even when you’re doing the dishes. You’re writing, even when you can’t write a damn thing and are moping about the house. You’re writing at that big marketing meeting that you’ve been dreading for weeks. Don’t think so? Haven’t you ever heard a name out of the blue, and thought, ‘Perfect name for a novel.’? And that’s just one ridiculously small example. Open your mind up to the possibility of always being “one” with your inner author, and you may find that pressure lessening, and your productivity at an all-time high. Don’t let that scare you. You aren’t letting go of writing. You aren’t accepting any less energy from writing, or falling out of love with it. In fact, it’s just the opposite. You’re freeing yourself to truly love who you are as an author, and the works you create, because none of it is forced or fabricated. It becomes, at that point, truly and utterly authentic.

And isn’t that the whole point of being a holistic author? To just … be?

I might have lost a few of you on this one, and I gather there will be a handful more who flat-out disagree with me. This is merely my input on it, and how I teach others to channel their creative flow. You don’t have to take my word on. But, before you go disagreeing with me, I challenge you to put into place this new mindset for just one week. See where it takes you. If going with the natural rhythm of things messes with your productivity, then perhaps this post wasn’t meant for you.

I’m betting though that you’ll find yourself quite surprised at how relaxed you feel … how easy the words will come once you’ve opened the floodgates and invited that energy to do as it pleases.

Go on … open those gates and stop fretting so much over the specificity of it all … I dare you …

6 responses

  1. I totally agree. There’s good and bad in every corner, it’s never going to be 100% perfect because it’s life, and art is important whether one attains certain things for it or not. Still there is some relief in meeting goals, of course right now I can only say that I’m on a high. It won’t last because they never do but I’m sure going to enjoy it for as long as I’ve been working it at it. Of course I’m talking about my story “The Inquisitor’s Handmaiden” because I can’t stop talking about it :p (The big negative at this point is what on earth my mother will think when she reads it :p, of course now that it’s out there for purchase and I’ve been admiring my kindle copy before my print one gets here, I’ve found that there’s a few clunky sentences that I wish I could fix, and one of them is the very first! Uggh!) It’s also the hope for the future that this has come to pass, finally, even though I’m not getting a ruddy cent for this one.

    When one tries so hard for so long, I think many can relate to this. I’ve been actively seeking publication since I’ve been out of high school and that’s fourteen years, which I can hardly believe it’s been that long. The arts, you have to love them, because the long spells of fruitless work can almost be more than one can bear. And this is the first what I call true publishing for me. I wrote for a small local newspaper at a few different times so I have those articles and I made money for them, though I hardly count them most of the time. They didn’t have my vision or passion. There were the poetry anthologies but no matter the quality of my work I understand now they were veiled vanity presses that only cared about making themselves money. The only thing I vaguely count is a contest I placed in, 12 years ago, I won $250 and the story appeared in a small booklet that all winners received, but I’m sure the only reason I made that was because there were extremely few entrants. But now after all this time I have something to count! Hoping that this is only the first little step, that all these years of toil will being paying off. So I can actually find the worth I have and show everyone that I can do something with meaning, the very thing I was meant to do. Praying hard that my novel will get all I want for it, as I’m just about about to start chapter 20 and have a lot of edits behind me. Of course if it doesn’t, it will hurt, but the dream won’t die and I’ll press on.

    So anyway, after all that, Bree… I was wondering if you got my emails from last week? I figure you were of doing something exciting over your birthday weekend, but anyway, I do hope you got them and hopefully weren’t too put off by all that personal stuff I dragged up.

    • Stealing some of my words for my blog. I’ve been wondering what I was going to do with it because I’ve had only the one post for forever, but I think this is the perfect place for me to start, talking about my creative struggles that have lead me to this publication :)

  2. “In other words, you’re not channeling energy like one would try to force water to go a certain way with a damn. We are building our creative lives around the water source and reveling in its existence every hour of every day, whether we are actively wading in it or not.”

    “The water will flow. Allow it to do so naturally, and you’ll find a rhythm that follows you throughout your days and nights …”

    “You’re freeing yourself to truly love who you are as an author.”

    These words of wisdom really resonated with me because that’s exactly how I approached my own writing. Not because I made a conscious decision to do so – it’s simply the way it happened. “Like a dam burstng” was how I described it to friends and family who asked, people who had known me for years without suspecting I would ever become an author. And it’s how I still view the process, even more so when ideas don’t come. I know that I’m so focused on what I’m doing at the present because the creative flow has changed its course. I am directed toward helping others with their writing more than I am to my own creativity. But that’s ok. It’s more than ok, because I still have seven books that have been written, yet need polishing. And I love doing that. I have total confidence that once the time is right, the floodwaters of my creativity will overflow once more and lead me into wondrous worlds. All I have to do is be patient and receptive. :-)

  3. Hey Bre! Great thoughts. I completely agree with you. I try to look at my happiness in what I do as an extension of myself–that I need to do it or else I’ll turn into the Wicked Witch–and no on the goals and dreams I have. Sure, those are great to keep in mind too, but they aren’t what drives me. I just love to write. Period. What happens afterward will happen.

    I am also the fool that’s grinning 25 minutes into my workout in the middle of a packed gym because I come up with something. Yes, we write all the time. All the time! And everything we see, do, experience, etc., becomes an idea for later. We grow out of what we are. Being, as you called it. (I’ve used the term often, too, and believe it’s integral to our existence as individuals.)

    Thanks for your words of wisdom.

  4. Okay, well I guess WordPress does not love me today….so we’ll try again:

    Being. It is a word I’ve used many times when I talk about writing and how it pertains to the creator, the author. We are. What we see, do, experience, etc., becomes a part of us. It sits in the dark crevices of our minds until it bursts forth in the form of a story. The image of a river breaking through a dam is strong. For me, it is important. I like to think of it cascading like a waterfall.

    I love the fact that you discuss those times when we simply cannot write down what we see in our heads, no matter what. You’re right, of course, and the advice you gave me over a year ago when I suffered from a severe block has served me well. It unstopped the dam and I’ve been writing most days since. (Thanks again, btw!) Relax, as you said; the water will flow. Let it do so naturally. It will find a rhythm that will carry you through. Wise words that ring true for this writer.

    Hope you are doing well! Hope you also got my email. Just wondering how you’re doing. You’ve been quiet. Nice post! Glad to see you back.

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