This post may appear to be all about writers and the challenges that they meet, yet it conceivably appeal to any individual who is trying to capitalize on their full potential whether they be an athlete, a mechanic, a fashion designer or a doctor. Love what you do and work at it. (I am not sure why the formatting is off and I cannot seem to fix it. I hope the short lines will not detract from the message.)
I have an inferiority complex that may very well destroy me. My perception of myself changes
daily depending upon how firmly my feet land on the floor as I get out of bed. And with that, I rise
as an over analyzer, forever questioning myself and the world about me. Good mother? Bad
mother? Spiritual being? Imposter? Writer or not?
A few months ago, life happened and I stopped writing and ceased posting to my blog after nine
months of daily writing and posting. Just like that. I stopped. I became consumed in nursing my
son to health after major surgery and supporting another as he transitioned to another state, far
away from us for the first time in ten years. Kids are resilient, I think it was me that did all the
shuffling and adjusting.
One month turned to two months. I became restless, edgy and a bit frightened. Would I ever be
able to regain my stance as a writer and a blogger? Is writing a phase that holds no passion or
gusto in my life? Who the hell am I and what do I really want in life?
A month into a university course on writing and mentoring writers, I still sputter and write with
many false starts. The online community has not motivated me to consistently create. Right
now the writing mentor, needs inspiration. So, I turn to a classic collection of essays on writing,
that is Bradbury’s Zen†in†the†Art†of†Writing†(1996.) Desperately, I seek a lasting fire that will burn
away all doubts. Tall order? Yes.
Bradbury reminds that a writer needs to love the work. Passion, love and fun fuel the flame. So I
question: Do I hold passion in my writing life? The answer is not always. Will the passion, love
and fun come with the discipline that is necessary to write volume daily? Am I destined to write
short little posts and sometimes a few verses of poetry? Does fear hold me back from my
potential? Bradbury suggests, “Writing at least a 1,000 words daily.” (p.15) My lack of discipline
is evident in my failed attempts to maintain weight loss, exercise and write everyday. Is that a
fair comparison? I think so. Writing does sustain me. It feeds my creative self and gives me a
voice. Do I have it in me to care for myself my physical, emotional and creative self? That is a
hard one. I struggle as I busy myself taking care of others. But Bradbury, the mentor states, “To
fail is to give up.” (p.146) I cannot give up. Most importantly he notes, “(Writing) reminds us that
we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right.” (p. xii) I mustn’t screw it up.
One technique that worked for Bradbury was to simply start the day with a list of nouns that
came to mind. From this he chose one and wrote at length. He seemed to have an incredible
memory, but mine is shaky at best. I wonder if this unearthing of memories came from the
discipline of writing volume each day? He discovered while questioning his worth, “...thinking
myself bankrupt, ignorant, unnoticing, I wind up with….plays, essays, poems, and a novel…I was
rich and didn’t know it. We all are rich and ignore the buried fact of accumulated wisdom.” He
adds, “We never sit anything out.” (p. 120) Further, “Quickness is truth. The faster you blurt, the
more swiftly you write, the more honest you are.” (p.13) Bradbury believes that, “eventually
quantity will make for quality.” (p. 144)
To feed the muse, Bradbury emphasizes that, “...we must have always been hungry about life.”
There is that passion, that love that zest that will feed the writer. Can I sustain a hunger a
passion? I think so. Synthesizing the wisdom that Bradbury shares with what I have come to
discover about myself is that the key to my writing life is to continue to keep a Gratitude Journal.
This is a repository of snippets of tastes, sights, sounds and memories in my life that may
otherwise go unnoticed. I am simply recording my passion, my hunger for my life, my world. It
is when I go about my day with my eyes opened to the blessings that I have in my life, that I can
notice the hunger I have for my story, my unique take on the world. Bradbury outlines the
importance of: WORK (daily volume writing, subsequent drafting), RELAXATION (trusting the
creative flow) and DON’T THINK (just do, write swiftly, blurt thoughts onto the page.)
Interestingly, Bradbury grew as a writer throughout his career with the help of many mentors. He
makes mention all through the book about how particular publishers, editors and others helped to
shape the future of his writing life by recognizing the potentiality in Bradbury in ways other than
how he defined himself. For instance, he never saw himself as a playwright, but became one
with encouragement from another. No matter how seasoned a writer you are, it is nearly
impossible to venture forth without the clear vision of another. Everyone must move about this
world with mentors.
“It is a wise writer who knows his own subconscious...not only knows it but lets it speak of the
world as it and it alone has sensed it and shaped it to its own truth.” (p. 152) Do I have the
courage to feed my truth? Time will tell.