One of my favorite things to do is encourage people. Especially those with long harbored creative dreams. Probably because they are usually the first ones to sell themselves short.
My mother was a beautiful poet. I still have one of her journals filled with some of the most touching verses I’ve ever read.
But she never shared her gift with the world. In fact, she once told me a long time ago that she had started a novel. But after 165 pages of hand written text, she stopped writing.
And tore it all up.
I am firmly convinced that each of us is here for a very specific reason. To share a precious gift with the world that only we possess.
But how many of us act on that conviction?
I’m not pointing fingers. Well, except maybe at myself. Because I have had a rich history of nodding my head in agreement with the concept of living your dream, yet fleeing like my ass was on fire when faced with the action steps that go with it.
I confess, I am a sucker for talent shows. Okay, so they’re cheesy, overproduced and hosted by vapid mannequins with serious self tanning issues. But I can’t help it. Every time I see one of the hopeful contestants take the stage, I am drawn in. Not just by their stunning voices, but the bravery and backstories that got them there. As I listen, I am praying that they don’t have to go back to anything that involves a cubicle or wearing a giant rat costume for a herd of screaming five year olds eating pizza. Considering my own shower-and-car-only voice, I believe each and every one of them should be the next world dominating superstar.
But then they’re eliminated. And I fall prey to the same insta-thought that nearly everyone else does:
“Well, they didn’t make it. Back to obscurity.”
But really…says who?
“So, how many of these will you ever actually read again?” my husband asked as he tripped over the stupidly huge piles of books obscuring the bedroom floor. Considering there were more than I could count, I opted to plead the fifth.
Like a lot of writers, I compulsively collect books – especially ones that promise to jumpstart my imagination, kill writers block and make me a genius storyteller. But given that I was about three paperbacks away from securing a starring role on Hoarders, I reluctantly decided to whittle down my literary stash. But the upside of this purging of the pages was that I rediscovered several gems that I (and maybe you) can’t live without. Not only did they shape my outlook on writing, story craft and creativity from the first reading, they have drawn me back time and again whenever I need a shot of inspiration or education.
“Comparison is the death of joy.” – Mark Twain
I hate to admit it, but one of my worst habits is comparing myself to other writers…usually when I’m in the throes of fearing that I’m not good enough at what I do. Of course, this is wildly unproductive, and I know it. Constant comparison is a recipe for allowing the unholy trinity of Fear, Resistance and Doubt to barge into my psyche and send me scurrying off to Procrastionationville.
But worst of all, it takes all the fun out of writing.
When I sat down to write this first post, I’d thought that I was set on talking about the current state of my writing life. The novel whose characters seem to envelop me in a warm hug one moment, then kick me in the shins and run away screaming, refusing to cooperate like a flock of bratty toddlers the next. A recent and welcome return to my first love, screenwriting. And of course, the daily dance with Resistance.
But there was one topic that kept repeatedly elbowing its way to the front of the line, no matter how many times I ignored it.