Somewhere I read the feeling right before a big leap should not be misinterpreted as fear but an adrenaline rush of excitement and anticipation of something new about to happen yet not quite knowing what that something will be. Oh, you might have an idea of it, of course, like starting a new job. You know the general responsibilities but you don’t know the reality until you are actually in the job.
I feel this way about my writing career. Mistakenly, I have labeled some of the anticipation as fear. Then I allowed the fear of failure—or fear of success?—to take over, to undermine all my hopes and dreams with doubt and lies and negative beliefs left over from my childhood. But no more! I remind myself that these palpitations of my heart are excitement and joy. I was born to do this—to write! I believe I spent many lifetimes as a writer. Even this lifetime is filled with journals, letters to friends and now long-winded e-mails.
I am a writer.
I am also a channel for these incredibly fascinating books to come through me. All this fear and trepidation and lack of confidence in my abilities have blocked the flow of energy to create these books. I have known all along it is my own human failings that have kept these books from being completed. Yet the negative belittling voice in my head was so much louder than the divine whisper, “I am a writer.”
I want to cry with shame that I have denied my true self all these years. But Robert Frost’s words and some other meditations about starting over remind me the past is over. Learn from it. Know that it is all a part of my divine lesson in this lifetime. It is my lesson to wake up to the truth of who I am. Others writers come into their lives with a fervor to write and nothing can keep them from it. But that was not my experience. I chose to come here with this challenge that I was somehow unworthy to be a writer, that I was not qualified to call myself a writer–or at least not one who is successful. This was my challenge. But this is not the truth. I had to lift the veil. Many times. Each time, I thought, was the last time. Each time I thought I had finally grasped the truth of who I am, and it would not slip away. But it did. I let the outside world convince me that I could not play the game. Someone said, “If only you would write marketable stories, you would sell!” And I faltered. Someone else said, “You cannot write about (fill in the blank) because those books don’t sell.” And I stumbled. Another said, “You can’t write that in a romance.” And I let the voice of my muse fade away, unable to hear the words of those unique stories because I could only hear friends, agents and editors who said I couldn’t sell that way.
Over and over, I told myself I should find the muse again and write those stories for the sheer joy and personal satisfaction, letting go of the ego that wanted a sale more than anything else. As I tried to to write those “unsaleable” ideas, self-doubt taunted me, pulling me away to do more important responsibilities that would make a difference, if only in a minor ways, if only for my family. Paying bills could not be put off. Nor laundry. Nor cooking, grocery shopping, taking the car for service, bathing the dogs, whatever else the voice could think up. Writing a book that would end up in a box under the bed—that could wait another day.
Enough of this! I am a writer and I came here to write. And I am no longer willing to believe that my writing will not fit into a full day of whatever else needs to be done. I make it fit. And when I am finished with a book, I write another. It does not matter if it ever sells. I write the stories that are given to me and I am grateful. I stop denying them based on salability. It’s perfectly okay that other writers were “built that way.” I wasn’t and I must accept this truth about me in order to survive. Rather melodramatic to put it that way, I know. I don’t mean it in the business sense of surviving in this publishing business. If I do not grasp the idea that I am different, that my writing is not about the ability to sell a book as it is about the ability to write with an original voice, then this muse of mine, this source of these stories will not survive. To a logical writer of constructed plots and carefully detailed characterization, this belief in an independent muse is nothing but nonsense, an excuse not to write to the market, an excuse to be so damn different that I will never sell again, an excuse to be a failure.
I am thrilled with these feelings of excitement and anticipation of the return of this powerful voice dictating words into books that are so mesmerizing to me. As I re-read a day’s work I am in awe of an author that is not me. I have no recollection of writing these words. Scenes, yes. Exact words, no. There is no explanation of it to someone who has not experienced it. No logical writer can understand it because, well, it is not logical.
To me, it’s magical. (Marketable? God only knows.) Given this mystical experience, how can I possibly return to logical writing? Why would I want to?