Friday, December 16, 2011
I had about four re-posts I wanted to put up for DL Hammons Déjà vu blogfest, but finally settled on this one from May 2010 - mostly because the video was as empowering to me when I reviewed the post as it was on the date I crafted it.
As usual, this post is a bit long, so I'm not posting all the blogfest rules and criteria. You can read them here if you don't already know them, and can sign up on the linky if it sounds interesting to you.
This was not on the original post, but I’ve broken the video down into three segments by the minutes: 0-5:50 of fear of success/greatest work behind me; 5:50 - 10:13 where does creativity come from/disembodied genius; and the last on showing up with your muse. Perhaps one or more of those sections will appeal to you if you do not have the time to watch the whole video. I also cleaned it up a little and took out a few lines to shorten it (just a bit).
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Originally titled: ON SHOWING UP
Thursday, May 13, 2010
The other day I was visiting Christine H (The Writers Hole), who shared this video by Elizabeth Gilbert, best selling author of Eat, Pray, Love. Don't be daunted by the length of the video. Sit down, relax, and be prepared to be validated and inspired. If you don't have the time to watch the whole vid, scroll down to my own notes.
Yes; I’m afraid success, and failure, and that the one novel concept is all I have in me. Sometimes the fear of one time success is more intimidating than the fear of absolute failure. My family has such high hopes that as soon as I sell the first novel, I’ll be able to quit my day job and write for a living, and soon be a millionaire because of it.
Elizabeth's hecklers may have a point about creativity and suffering being ultimately linked. Alcoholism and addiction seem synonymous with success, and the fear of never living up to the last work of art.
I worry constantly that if my trilogy, which I've devoted so much of my soul to, ever sells, it will be the only viable work I'll ever produce. Suppose at some point I have to come to terms with the concept "my greatest success is behind me."
Elizabeth says to get over that intimidating thought construct she had to "Create a distance between me and my expectations of my writing since that freakish success." Her way of doing that was to come up with a new way of thinking about creativity, and that search led her to Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome. Back then, people did not "believe creativity came from human beings...creativity was a devine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source."
Greeks: Socraties believed he had a Daemon, who spoke wisdom to him from afar.
Romans: Genius - didn’t think they (the Daemon's) were clever; but magical, divine entity living in the walls like Dobby the house elf. Artists are protected from narcissism if successful, and not your fault if you fail. During the renaissance, this idea changed, and the creative process was returned to the individual. The pressure of being a genius instead of channeling genius was too immense, and has been killing off creativity ever since.
The question becomes how to relate to our muses without losing our minds; knowing that if we don’t write it down immediately we will lose the thought, and it will seek out another writer more ready to act on the creativity. Sometimes, the muse does not show up at an opportune moment, and “we fall into a pit of dispair” and you have to tell this entity essentially: I did my part, the best I can, now its your turn to show up and do your part.
So much of her speech was empowering to me, but what I took away to use in my own writer's slump is:
(paraphrased) If you imagine that the most extraordinary aspects of your being did not come from you, but were on loan through you, it changes how you feel about your writing. And: "Don’t be afraid, don’t be daunted. Just do your job, continue to show up for your piece of it. "
"Ole to you for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up."
After writing this, and letting it sit a couple days, I stumbled upon Terry Towry's post regarding his renewed interest in his current WIP, and I thought his musings clearly reflected the message Elizabeth Gilbert was trying to impart. He says of his finished first novel: “while I'm fairly proud of how it turned out, there was not one moment during the actual writing period that I considered fun.” A sentiment I can totally get on board with for my own first novel.
Terry confesses that a few days ago he opened his novel again, and suddenly found a new love for the writing. He doesn’t state a reason for the change of heart, but I’m going to offer my own revelation, and maybe it will fit his also. Perhaps like me, he is afflicted with a Daemon instead of a genius. Or maybe putting a little emotional distance from the work and getting constructive feedback from the writer community was exactly what his muse ordered.
Roni over at Fiction Groupie also reports on the fickleness of her muse. He shows up on his own time, stays however long he feels, and disappears without so much as a next time appointment. Apparently in the last week, however, he’s been rather chatty, and once he kicked Internal Editor’s a$$ out of the way, she’s managed to add a phenomenal 12k words to her current WIP.
I wonder if I’ve hit that mark in the last 6 months?
How about you; are you happy with your progress? Do you blame your muse for not showing up for his/her part when the writing is difficult?