I recently had a dream that I am still mulling over.
In the dream I was driving down a street in my hometown when I saw an author that I really respect passing out flyers and advertisements about his new book. I was so excited that I slowed down and called out to him. He recognized me, greeted me by name and then invited me to meet him at a conference he was speaking at later that same day at the high school I attended. When I arrived at the school, I searched but could not find him. Frantic that I was supposed to meet him but was late and lost, I continued searching but the more I looked and dashed down hallways and opened office doors into broom closets, the less I recognized my surroundings and the more lost I became. Gradually, I could not remember why I had wanted to meet him so badly, what we would have talked about, and then - who was I looking for? Where am I? What was I doing before? I woke up sincerely confused - what was that about?
I can make a lot of projections about that dream. Maybe in my search to speak with an author I regard so highly, who so often speaks to my own fears and insecurities and hopes and beliefs, who leads the kind of life and professional success I desire for myself, I confused my envy for his career with respect for his writing. Maybe, in some sense, I am doing this in my waking life and God was trying to reveal how fruitless it is to pursue someone else's success rather than being satisfied with the simple act of practicing my passion. I can already write. I love the act of writing, and I love to read, and people enjoy reading my writing. What else do I need that I don't already have, and could that author have given it to me?
Or maybe as a friend suggested, the author represents the writer in me, the part of me that writes for writing's sake and does it well and is self-assured in it, and I somehow feel that I have lost her and am desperate to reconnect with her.
Or maybe, like my husband says, the dream is a lesson in not reading too much right before bed. But like I've mentioned before, my dreams often reveal important things about my life and have a lot to do with my writing.
Either way, the dream has lingered with me for several days, begging the question:
Am I pursuing success, or am I pursuing my art?
I often get self conscious about my blog. It's a blog about the process of creativity and writing, but how often am I posting my writing versus posting my thoughts on writing? There is art, and then there is talking about art. Like this post, for instance.
I started to write a different post today, but as I reflected on this quote I stumbled across early on Monday, my thoughts took on a new form:
"If you have a rhythm, if you get up every morning and work for a few hours, and you like the getting up and the work, and you don’t think about how great it will be when it’s done, but rather how great it is every day that you get to get up and do the work, your creation will be tremendous. Don’t think about the finished product. Stop rewarding yourself with something that doesn’t exist, and may never exist. Instead, think about how delightful it is you get to do this, you get to make this, and how delightful it will be to get up and do it again tomorrow." -Don Miller
An interesting connection of seemingly unrelated dots, I think.
I've written four poems just since reading it, but why? That's more poetry than I've written in three years, easily. It could be any number of things. Maybe it was the simple act of enjoying the form and the act of writing rather than pursuing some imaginary success and "reward that may never come" as Miller put it.
I still struggle with the idea of submitting or posting my work. I can stand on both sides of it and make cases against whether or not to expose my work to anyone. If I do, I could get rejected. If I don't, what's the joy and purpose of doing it at all?
Miller addresses this question, too:
"Most of the things we worry about as creators never happen. We are not as rejected as we think we are; in fact, our creation has given us a greater community, even if we do have a few critics. And we did not fail as badly as we thought we would; and if we did fail, people hardly noticed. Most of the fears we entertain as creators have to do with hypothetical situations, things that could happen. But this is a waste of valuable creative energy. Most likely, things we think will happen won’t. A creator takes risks, a consumer lives in safety. Are you a creator or consumer?"
I know the answer to that question: I want to contribute. I want to create. But sometimes it feels easier, safer, to link to someone else rather than say it myself. It is sometimes easier to talk about doing it, rather than actually doing it. Because writing is an act of vulnerability. It is an act in voicing thoughts and allowing people to study, scrutinize, reject or partake in who I am and what I believe. I'm good at gathering and collecting inspiration, bad at making that brave, vulnerable movement into the next step: creating.
In the spirit of making the move, tomorrow I'll post one of my poems that I wrote this week. So what move are you struggling to make this week, friends? Take the leap with me.