What I Do

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november2015 006

Day two of my thirty day writing challenge.

I’m in that obsessive state of mind.

I couldn’t fall asleep last night for the excitement! I retrieved my journal from its low shelf to check the blog ideas I had listed there. I found my good, smooth-writing ink pen to make lists of new ideas. I pulled out one book after another.

I read about twenty pages into The Writer’s Devotional by Amy Peters, which is designed for reading one inspirational page per day.  “Each day of the week highlights a different aspect of a writer’s life…” Mondays are ‘Writers on Writing,” and that is the inspiration for this post today.

I finished another chapter of Mary Karr’s new book, The Art of Memoir. Her The Liar’s Club was one of my favorites, and started me on a whole tangent of memoir reading. It promises to be a wonderful, insightful book, but I didn’t feel like I could learn all she has to offer before today’s post.

Next, Theodore Roethke, On Poetry and Craft. He’s a favorite of mine, and the book is heavily marked with my underlines and exclamation points…but I deemed it too much to absorb in one night, and returned it to the shelf.

Finally, Do the Work by Steven Pressfield. A thin volume that I picked up in a bookstore several months ago, I hadn’t done more than glance at it until last night. Well, it’s simply brilliant!

“When you and I set out to create anything – art, commerce, science, love – or to advance in the direction of a higher, nobler version of ourselves, we uncork from the universe, ineluctably, an equal and opposite reaction.

That reaction is Resistance. Resistance is an active, intelligent, protean, malign force – tireless, relentless, and inextinguishable – whose sole object is to stop us from becoming our best selves and from achieving our higher goals.”

The book is made up of short chapters composed of paragraphs with startling titles like “The Crazier the Better,” “Suspend All Self-Judgment”  and “Welcome to Hell.” He spends an awful lot of time talking about resistance, and how it attacks. The first way? Making it seem necessary to research rather than just get to work.

Exactly what I was doing!

In fact, one of the things I always do.

None of these patterns are new to me.

First, I obsess.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a new art project, a diet, an exercise program, or this blogging commitment…obsession is first.

You’ll here me say things like:

“Oh, yeah, I started a new series of paintings…no big deal.”

“…just thought I’d try to lose a few pounds is all.”

“Just trying to move a little more.”

“Yes, I’m writing every day in November. A lot of people do it.”

But what’s going on in my mind is more like:

“OH MY GOD THIS IS GOING TO CHANGE MY ENTIRE LIFE AND I’LL FINALLY BE FAMOUS {SUCCESSFUL/LOVED/RESPECTED/YOU NAME IT}…IF ONLY I CAN PULL THIS OFF!!!”

And that’s when resistance sets in.

That’s when research begins. When hours investigating how it’s been done before, by others, or how others think it should be done, take the place of doing. When long lists of possibilities, “pros and cons” and things I’ll do when I am successful at whatever the undertaking is…actually undermine the possibility of success.

That’s how I roll.

Don’t worry, I’ll get over it.

In my sixty-three years, I’ve learned to ride this wild horse of my life. I recognize the highs and lows, the craziness and the obsessions. I push through it.

I just keep going.

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