Tag Archives: ego

Why Write?

Disappointment isn’t something that I deal with well. More often than not I keep things behind the scenes, but occasionally whining slips out—as evidenced by this post I’ve written and quickly put up before I could go and delete it.

But I’ve been thinking I need a new hobby. This writing thing has been great and I truly enjoy it, but the disappointment and rejection tend to build and create this volcano of frustration and self-doubt that threatens to erupt when even the garbage man refuses to buy my new book.

YOU CAN READ IT WHILE YOU’RE ON THE CRAPPER, YOU FOOL!

Anyway, I have a couple humor-centric posts coming soon, but that’s where my head is. Stuck up my butt in a constant loop of defeat, researching ways to make creative doilies out of cat hair and perfecting my pitch for “Shark Tank.”

But a friend—a writer friend—alerted me to something she had recently read that might resonate, and yes, yes it did. It’s an introduction to “Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Writers on How and Why They Do What They Do” by editor Meredith Maran.

Below is part of what she had to say:

“Why do writers write? Anyone who’s ever sworn at a blinking cursor has asked herself that question at some point. Or at many, many points.

When the work is going well, and the author is transported, fingers flying under the watchful eye of the muse, she might wonder, as she takes her first sip of the coffee she poured and forgot about hours ago, ‘How did I get so lucky, that this is what I get to do?’

And then there are the less rapturous writing days or weeks or decades, when the muse is injured on the job and leaves the author sunk to the armpits in quicksand, and every word she types or scribbles is wrong, wrong, wrong, and she cries out to the heavens, ‘Why am I doing this to myself?’

It’s a curiosity in either case. Why do some people become neurosurgeons, dental hygienists, investment bankers, while others choose an avocation that promises only poverty, rejection, and self-doubt? Why do otherwise rational individuals get up every morning – often very, very early in the morning, before the sun or the family or the day job calls – and willingly enter the cage?

Is it the triumph of seeing one’s words in print? Statistics show this isn’t a reasonable incentive. According to the website Publishing Explained, more than one million manuscripts are currently searching for a U.S. publisher. One percent of these will get the nod.

Nor can we credit the satisfaction of a job well done. As the ever-cheerful Oscar Wilde put it, “Books are never finished. They are merely abandoned.” Only 30 percent of published books turn a profit, so we can rule out material motivation. God knows it can’t be for the boost in self-esteem. To paraphrase Charlie Chaplin’s depiction of actors, ‘Writers search for rejection. If they don’t get it, they reject themselves.’

Why, then, does anyone write? Unlike performing brain surgery, cleaning teeth, or trading books, anyone can pick up a yellow pad or a laptop or a journal and create a poem or a story or a memoir. And, despite the odds against attaining the desired result, many, many people do. We fill our journals and write our novels and take our writing classes. We read voraciously, marveling at the sentences and characters and plot twists our favorite authors bestow upon us. How do they do it? we ask ourselves. And why?”

In 2001, naturalist Terry Tempest Williams addressed the question in “Why I Write” in Northern Lights magazine.

“I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to create fabric in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin a dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things differently perhaps the world will change.”

I don’t know if I would go as far as to say I write in hopes the world will change, but I suppose I write in hopes that my world will change in some way. Writing gives me an escape, and although at times it feels like it makes me a prisoner to my head and leaves me at the mercy of readers who might not be there, I come back. Every day I come back to the words.

And I promise words with less weight in the future, but I just had to vent. Today, that’s what writing is for (the doilies will just have to wait.)

If you write, why do you write? If you read, why do you read?

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An Ego Trip

A lot of what I’ve been reading deals with letting go—letting go of attachment to results, to routine, to the ego.

At first I kind of rolled my eyes at the ego thing, as I never really figured myself to have much of a stereotypical ego. I don’t spend a lot of time or money on my looks, I can admit when I’m wrong and I’m pretty much self-deprecating to a fault.

But then I realized that was bullshit. Of course I have an ego. It might not be the, “Hey, look at me! I’ve been meditating for a month and suddenly all of the answers are clear! Praise avocados! Namaste!” type of ego, but I still find myself attached to my story.

storypic

You know what I’m talking about.

We all have a story, and at times I still let past chapters of mine continue to define me today. There are labels I had never removed because it seemed impossible to let those things go. After all, it’s easy to define yourself by the past—the things you’ve had to deal with that were out of your control, the way someone treated you—or by your struggles—OCD, weight, depression, etc.

But I’m learning that there can and will always be another story as long as I permit myself to “be” without worrying about figuring it out.

In other words, dropping the ego—or at least peeking around its rough edges—and letting go of control.

So I’ve been reading—slowly, not rushing through—and taking more time with more things. By deliberately slowing down a mind that has a tendency to run ahead without me, I’m much more aware of my space and of the fact that I don’t need to fill that space up with things and noise all the time.

That can be hard, as in this self-branding/social media world we live in we’re offered platforms to try and present flattering one-dimensional versions of ourselves and told to do, do, do and share it all the time. And then—because everyone else is doing it too—we’re given tools to calculate our popularity.

No wonder we’re a mess half the time.

And truth be told, I’m still a mess in a whole lot of ways and have no clue what I’m doing with things. It has nothing to do with anyone else, but simply with my own frustration. (If I hear “find your passion” one more time I’ll flip my shit out, but that’s for another day.)

Anyway, the best way to fight unhealthy habits is to cultivate a personal mindset that simply doesn’t promote their presence in the first place.

There’s a difference between content and complacent, confident and cocky, reaching out and clinging on, stuck and simply stumbling. Sometimes I’m all of these things all at once, but I’m finding is if you’re content with yourself and need nothing else, it helps solve a lot of problems.

But of course there still are problems.

So if there’s anyone out there hiring a mostly content slightly neurotic writer to move to a remote island to practice yoga and meditation while editing vegan cookbooks and selling sea shells by the sea shore, shoot me an email there buddy.

Hey, I said “peek around the edge” of the ego, not completely squash that crap down. Snark will always be a part of my story—and my next post—so praise avocados! Namaste!”

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