I am a whiner. When my faith fails me as I struggle and churn in the process of creation, I have a litany of reasons to quit.
Because I was an at home mother for seven years.
Because my children need me.
Because I'm a creative and require absolute freedom.
Because I'm highly sensitive.
Because it is just all so hard, I'm not made for this world, of this world, there's no place for me.
Because I can't articulate my vision.
Because it is too unique, not marketable, strange, handmade, messy, organic.
Because I need more education, training, something something something...
Yes. There is always a reason why I can give up on my dream.
Does this resonate with any of you at all?
What all of these excuses do for me is pull me from my vision at exactly the critical moment where I need to push forward. Remember that as a writer I see everything in light of the creative process? Well author Ron Carlson says in his book Ron Carlson Writes a Story:
"The most important thing a writer can do...is to stay in the room...The writer wants to read what she is in the process of creating with such passion and devotion that she will not leave the room.”
Where is your room? What are you creating with passion and devotion? Can you stay there, even when the world tempts you?
I work with a lot of women, which is great because I am a woman and we know some things about each other. My clients and students are teachers, and I learn from them daily. As a community, patterns emerge. And one of the patterns I see consistently is that of self-sabotage at the edge of primary, fundamental transformation.
We want things, we want things with our whole being. And we have to work for those things. Sometimes for a long time. A story: When I was twenty-three I wanted to immerse myself in writing, to enter the world of ideas in an MFA program and devote my life to higher education. I applied to six schools and was rejected from six schools. It was devastating to me, and affirmed all of my inner whining.
For the next six years, I wrote. I compiled a body of work. I grew children inside me, birthed them, nursed them, and understood a little more about living and a lot about myself because of them. I wrote about this. I became involved in my community and discovered a new passion. I wrote about this, too. When I applied to graduate school at the age of twenty-nine I was accepted. Sometimes dreams require persistence, refinement, dedication, practice, time.
But so often we are reluctant to commit to staying in the room. We want to relax! We want everything taken care of! We want security and comfort and status. We want our dream to give us these things and get impatient when it isn't, or when we can't see the way. So, we bail. Without structure for practicing our new story, the new story of our dreams, the old creeps in. And it keeps us from success.
I am writing this now because if you have a dream, I want you to commit to it. Invest in it. Stay in the room with it. Practice it. Tell the whining to shoo. Or fuck off. You are working here.
We need each other to keep us accountable to our process, to encourage us when it takes longer than we'd like, to celebrate our victories. Within the circle we are stronger, more potent, and our creations take on life larger than our own.