and ramblings on everything in between
February has fled with my inspiration for some reason. I’m blaming her for it anyway, since she can’t defend herself. Maybe I’ll blame the fact that it’s too cold to take long walks and that’s when my best ideas come. Or maybe I’ll blame the fact that I’ve been working a lot more than usual and when you sit in front of a computer all day you don’t want to sit in front of a computer all night. Maybe I’ll blame the fact that it’s too hard to get out of bed in the morning when it’s still pitch black out.
Heavens no, I won’t blame me.
In an effort to avoid writing this past week, I sat down with The War of Art by Steven Pressfield instead. Because all of us writers know that if you’re not going to sit down and write, then you might as well read a book about how to sit down and write. I laugh to think of what Pressfield or Lamott or King would do if they were in my apartment while I was reading one of their books. I imagine they would rip it from my hands, look me in the eye, and scream, “Just write your freakin’ novel already! Geesh!”
I don’t know why I put so much pressure on myself to create a masterpiece. Creating is really the only thing I’m after, so why do I drag my feet so often?
Pressfield challenged me to think about what scares me about writing, this passion that shapes my very being. Almost every book on writing I’ve read has approached the subject of fear – that panic you feel the moment you sit down in the hopes of creating. I experience this every time the black cursor of doom flashes at me from an empty page, but I’ve never questioned what exactly I fear.
My livelihood does not depend on my writing. My ability to eat, gas up my car, keep the lights on, and show up to work on time do not hinge on if I spent time writing. I have loads of free time to spend how I want so guilt is never a part of the issue. I hardly ever share my work with others (shame on me!) so I don’t fear their ridicule.
Pressfield names this fear Resistance. When higher forces than ourselves know we’re about to embark on something deeply personal, deeply satisfying, and deeply enriching, they want to keep us from “reaching the treasure of our self-in-potential and releasing the maiden who is God’s plan and destiny for ourselves and the answer to why we were put on this planet.” Okay, that might be part of it.
But the better answer is I’m scared of the time it will take me to get good at it. When I dabble with a chapter here, a blog post there, I don’t ever have to claim to be good at it because I spend so little time doing it. If I’m going to commit year(s) of my life to this craft, I better be getting better along the way.
Pressfield goes on to state, “We know if we embrace our ideals, we must prove worthy of them. And that scares the hell out of us. What will become of us? We will lose our friends and family, who will no longer recognize us. We will wind up alone, in the cold void of starry space, with nothing and no one to hold on to.”
Of course this is not what will happen. But we’ll happily lie to ourselves and claim its truth in order to avoid the one thing we long to do.
“Our role is to put in effort and love; the territory (i.e. your passion) absorbs this and gives it back to you in the form of well-being. When experts tell us that exercise (or any other effort-requiring activity) banishes depression, this is what they mean.”
Today I want to get Resistance back for all the writing she stole from me in February. Even if it means rambling pointlessly about the fact that I don’t want to write. I know the irony of that won’t be wasted on her…