Okay, admit it. How many of you were waiting for me to share that I’ve finally experienced ‘writer’s block’? I hope not many, because this isn’t the case. Thankfully. Perhaps a better title would be “Stumble”. Let me explain.
Since I started this blog six months ago (yes, time has really passed quickly!) I have listed, with great determination, suggestions for readers on how and what to pull from when one is at a loss for creative juices. I’ve discussed poetry, memoir, editing, critiquing, sharing, where to look for ideas, and even invited the readers to share their material with me and vote on what they’d like for me to work on next. I began this weekly posting because I wanted to share with those who find this and read it, what my process is when I create, as I believe that each of us has this as a part of being human, it’s just a matter of whether we choose to take advantage of it.
By now, you know that I’ve written and published three novels and a poem project. If you’ve visited my web site, you might have perused the short stories and poems posted there for enjoyment. Yes, writing comes ‘easy’ for me. I’ve been fortunate to not have been at a loss for words when I’ve sat down to scribble with my pen. Deep down, I believe that my stories are entertaining, and with the Questions to Ponder that I include at the end, challenge the reader to consider their position on certain controversial topics such as the border issue, spirituality, the existance of God, child abuse, bilingual education, and if extraterrestrials are even now walking among us. Maybe because I’m a Pisces (we’re dreamers) or perhaps it’s due to my highly introverted personality, but what I’ve struggled with most, is getting my books into the hands of those who would want to read them. I am grateful that my friend who stores the pallets of books in his garage is in no hurry to have the inventory moved! I really did think that my writing would catch on, and though I didn’t hold out for a spot on Oprah, I admit I AM (present tense!!) wanting to make a living, writing.
This title is three-pronged. First, marketing. I’ve exhausted marketing referrals of referrals of referrals. I’ve read ebooks, looked at other blogs, subscribed to ezines, and even purchased books on ‘marketing your book’. All confusing, all seeming ‘easy’, and just as out of my reach as the moon. I’ve sent emails, mailings, held book signings, sold a few through word of mouth, but I’m still an unknown in the publishing world. And I think anyone who desires to earn money for their creative talents have traveled down similar paths, and may, or may not, have had similar results.
Next, if you’ve read the blog from last week, you know that I received some . . . constructive criticism regarding my fourth manuscript. I’ve started my fifth story, and have been a little frustrated in that it is coming in starts and stops. What I realized, was that I was second guessing myself. What if this person was 100% correct, and I’m only a ‘mediocre’ writer? What if I’m the fool, believing, falsely, that what I have to share is worthwhile? What if there is a perfectly legitimate reason why I still have the better part of three pallets of books in storage? With these whirling around in my head, my insecurities have had a hay day, and I’ve fought with myself several times about hanging up the pen for good (I’ll share next week what I did that helped overcome this). It would certainly save me money, since I pay for everything related to publishing my books. I’d have much more time to . . . watch TV, read books, um . . . oh, and if I wasn’t writing, I wouldn’t be doing all the things I do regarding marketing, etc.
Lastly, and most importantly, is ‘the struggle within’ (to quote Metallica). I don’t think there is a person, living or dead, that delved into some creative field, whether it was cooking, writing, painting, building, dancing, singing, sculpting, music, photography, or any other endeavor, that didn’t have to grow enough thick skin to be confused with a rhinoceros. There are so many steps involved in creating something, from inception of the idea, to displaying it before the world. Everything made or expressed through a chosen medium (sometimes it chooses you) contains the essence of the creator. Though it’s suggested to ‘not take it personally’, that the ‘creation is not the creator’, it is all a labor, of love or of war, from within oneself. Yoga teaches us that there is ‘nothing to fix’, and that ‘all is as it should be’. So, I’m shy, have a terrible dislike for ‘pushing sales’, I do take what others suggest and sometimes dismiss it, but at other times wallow around in it. In the Bhagavad Gita, when Krishna speaks with Arjuna, he tells the warrior to ‘do his duty’. The theme for last year’s class of graduates from the yoga teacher training program was ‘Be Remarkable’. To show up, lean forward, and stop playing the role of the victim.
Struggle. Intention. Choice. I choose the intention of continuing with that which brings joy, creating stories and poems that help me understand the world, and myself. I intend to be remarkable with my writing, my teaching, my relationships. The ego may continue with the struggles of ‘I don’t know anything about marketing or running a business’ and ‘maybe my writing is worse than a feral cat fight’, and as long as that is where I place my attention, that is where the energy will flow. And my writing will stop, the creativity dried up, my muse a shriveled piece of unrecognizable ick. “The strength of the practice of any yoga student is how far off the mat they are willing to experiment,” said my yoga teacher. The ease, peace, and harmony that yoga has brought to my life would be a complete waste if I abandoned the practice for the easy road, and chose to be ‘unremarkable’.
I intend to spend thirty minutes a day, at least, delving into marketing strategies for small businesses (recently found a phenomenal source). My intention to earn a living by writing will continue, as will the plot and character development for manuscript #5. Choosing the intention to ‘Be Remarkable’, setting aside the struggle and ‘do my duty’, regardless of insecurities will quiet the ego and reestablish the assertion that ALL creativity is worthwhile.
Here’s your assignment: 1) What do you do to answer the call to create? (write, draw, dance, etc) 2) List three places where there is struggle (knowledge, profits, name building, marketing, materials, ideas, technological advances, critiques), 3) Choose one, and focus your attention there (it could be the easiest one to overcome, the simplest one to solve, the one you feel most comfortable in doing), 4) What is your intention? (After accepting that this is the way it is, how do you want it to be?) 5) List two things that could be done, people who you could speak with, books that could be read, that would close the gap between the struggle and the intention, 6) Set a completion date (procrastination is one of the worst enemies), 7) Review your progress daily or weekly.
What does this have to do with anything? Nothing, and everything. To ‘Be Remarkable’ and ‘do your duty’, takes work and vigilance and intention. Will you choose to allow the struggle to win in the end? Will you keep your gift of creativity from the world? Standing a little taller in my trembling boots, I invite you , as always, to view the results of when my creativity trumped my struggles. www.myjoyenterprises.com