Wednesdays on Writing: The Enemy

January 5th, 2011

Jealousy, bitterness and self-pity visit us all at some point. They can be charming guests, in their way, telling us it’s not fair, it’s not right, it’s not worth it. They seem to be on our side.

They are liars and thieves. They are the enemy.

You can’t help that they visit. But you can choose not to entertain or embrace them. You don’t have to let them move in.

I see so many unpublished writers who have become hosts to their frustrations; to the point where frustration itself has become their narrative, taking over their true story like a parasite. They let it use them up. They think it will be satiated by success, but you don’t have to have read many literary biographies to know that this isn’t true. Miserable unpublished authors become even more miserable published authors.

What do they suppose will be fundamentally different if “it” finally happens? For most authors, not a whole lot. We still have to contend with rejection, financial uncertainty, relationship issues, and all the other problems, risks and frustrations of this peculiar life. Yes, it is thrilling and gratifying to be recognized in the wider world, to get the deal, to sign the contract. It’s fantastic to get paid (though that doesn’t usually live up to the fantasy, either, believe me). But those things can’t be the principle motive or measure. They can’t be our sole validation. We aren’t meant to master our gift; only to be obedient to it. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: a writer must serve the writing. The reverse posture is a terribly painful contortion of your spirit, your purpose and your art.

That you have been called. That you answer. There is your validation. That is your contract.

No Responses to “Wednesdays on Writing: The Enemy”

  1. denise says:

    So so important to read and so so true. Love this: meant to be obedient to the gift. This resonates for me–there are many times when I truly feel as if the words are passing through me rather than coming from me. So obedient I try to be.

  2. Chris says:

    Thanks, Coach. 🙂 Loved the HuffPo article you shared on twitter, too.

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