I’ve always adopted a philosophy of looking for the silver lining. One of my favorite quotes is from Shakespeare:
“There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
I believe this, but I also get sucked up into negativity on a pretty regular basis. Life can be hard. People I love hurt. Sometimes I hurt. Things that I desperately want slip beyond my grasp and I forget how incredible it is that I am here in the first place.
As for being a writer – have you ever stopped to really think how absolutely miraculous, amazing, and wonderful it is to be a writer?
Some of you are already giving me the squinty eyes. Yeah, yeah, I know. Writing is a lonely and gut wrenching business. The publishing industry feels like shark infested waters. Even if you’ve got a current contract there’s no guarantee that your publishing house will promote your book or take on another. Maybe your friends are writing bestsellers while you’re still hunting for an agent. Or your latest manuscript is out on sub and every editor has some different excuse to give as to why they didn’t snap it up.
It hurts. The industry sucks. And you wonder whether you were cursed by the fates that you were born with the yen to write.
But stop and really think about this: you are nothing more than a well organized bunch of cells. I don’t care whether you’re Christian or spiritual or an atheist, you’ve got to admit that the fact that a collection of cells has consciousness at all is mind bending. That this collection of cells can have thoughts and emotions, can feel pain and pleasure and act on its environment to increase or decrease that pain and pleasure? This is amazing.
And now one step further. This sentient arrangement of biologic material that is you has the ability to take pleasure in a particular arrangement of words. It can be moved to laughter or tears by characters in a non-existent world that it creates. And then it can share these words, these characters, this story, with another sentient arrangement of biologic material who in turn is moved to joy, or laughter, or tears.
What an incredible gift this is!
What if you were born without this gift? What if you were word deaf or story blind and books and stories and words meant nothing to you? How bleak would the world be then?
My goal is to remember to come to my writing from this perspective. Do I still want to sell truckloads of books and get a stellar publishing contract and win literary prizes and be invited to appear on Oprah? Of course I do. But maybe none of that is what matters. What is important is that I was born with the ability and the desire to make music out of words, to turn ideas into stories. I want to remember to take pleasure in that, to be conscious of what a miracle and a privilege and a GIFT it is to be able to write.
And I’m hoping maybe you’ll want to try to come to writing from that space too.
I’m sharing the video by Fred Luskin that got me started thinking in this direction. It’s just a guy talking, but what he says moved me deeply and changed my life. I know that I risk coming across as not-so-evil with all of this peace and good will stuff, but you’ll just have to trust that my motives are appropriately ulterior.