Thursday, January 03, 2008

Inspiration and Desperation

Edie recommended Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia yesterday, so I checked out Elizabeth Gilbert’s website. She has an awesome page up on writing! (Except for the small fact that she considers the late thirties to be "A Certain Age.")


My favorite was this paragraph:

"As for discipline - it’s important, but sort of over-rated. The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. You will make vows: “I’m going to write for an hour every day,” and then you won’t do it. You will think: “I suck, I’m such a failure. I’m washed-up.” Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn’t take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness (which comes from a place of kind and encouraging and motherly love). The other thing to realize is that all writers think they suck. When I was writing “Eat, Pray, Love”, I had just as a strong a mantra of THIS SUCKS ringing through my head as anyone does when they write anything. But I had a clarion moment of truth during the process of that book. One day, when I was agonizing over how utterly bad my writing felt, I realized: “That’s actually not my problem.” The point I realized was this - I never promised the universe that I would write brilliantly; I only promised the universe that I would write. So I put my head down and sweated through it, as per my vows."

So DH is leaving tonight. My mantra is that this will help get us one of our big, big dreams. A really big dream that will bring us years of happiness.

But I’ve always lived most of my life with the fear that tomorrow might not come. That’s why I work doing things I am passionate about, rather than work doing things I hate so that I can save up for "other times." But it’s smarter to hold off sometimes.

Tomorrow will come. With both of us healthy and safe and together. It will, it will, it will. This is the right thing to do. (Am I overdoing it yet?) I’ll just repeat those phrases over and over and over. It’s only three or so months.

I consider love and time with DH one of the most important joys of my life. But this is the right thing to do. I am not going to get depressed this time. Just for the next minute. And then the next. One minute at a time. Maybe I can procrastinate getting depressed until DH gets back, at which point I won’t need to be depressed!

Have you ever sacrificed something you feel to be one of the most important things in life in order for a big dream? Was it worth it?

I’ll end with more wisdom from Emily Dickinson:


There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.

This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

13 bonus scribbles:

Erica Orloff 1/03/2008 02:40:00 PM  

Hi Spy:
One thing I realize, now that I have four kids, is parents are constantly sacrificing for the big dreams, the little dreams, and everything in between. They are constantly sacrificing their OWN dreams, too. It's such a hard question (got an hour??). My "big" dream is a farm. Out in the middle of nowhere, with horses. But right now, we live in a beautiful home, on a golf course of all things. It's nice, very pretty really, but I would be happier with a little ranch house on 20 acres. But my KIDS, they are happy here around other kids and with the school bus three houses away and all that. I hate having neighbors. I hate having to talk to people. I'm different. My kids . . . they LOVE having neighbors.

Living here means I need to make x amount of money. Not a lot of relaxation built into my schedule. Having lots of children means there's less resources--and less of me--to go around. Yet I didn't want 1 child or 2. I wanted 4 or 5 or 6. So I have 4. The budget is tight. And yet the love is multiplied a hundred-fold. Demon Baby and all.

So I think we learn our dreams are like clay. We mold them and then mush 'em up and reshape them as circumstances dictate. And that's OK. My "new" big dream . . . save enough in the next two years to buy a run-down old house on ten acres and a horse--but that's within 30-45 minutes of where I am now. LIVE here, but then live THERE on weekends. It's a compromise big dream.

Either way . . . it's a journey. Try not be sad. Your love is big enough to be OK for the three months. :-)


Edie 1/03/2008 03:45:00 PM  

Spy, I don't know how I missed Elizabeth Gilbert's writer's page. I love the passage you quoted, and I'll remember that the next time I think my writing sucks. Especially since she writes so wonderfully.

Your mantra is great. I hope you write a wonderful book while DH is gone. And you're right. Tomorrow will come, with both of you happy, healthy and together.

For years I worked at a well-paying job I disliked while I worked to save money for a home. I guess that was my sacrifice. I'd like to say it was worth it, but I don't know if it was. It's done though, and now I'm doing what I love.

spyscribbler 1/03/2008 04:12:00 PM  


Yeah, I got an hour, LOL. :-) I love your big dream. Sounds fabulous! I have to say, I never imagined you living on a golf course. But I bet it's pretty and green!

I love the clay analogy! That's perfect!

I'm not worried about whether our love is big enough, but I fear for his health. But it'll be okay. I won't worry!

Erica Orloff 1/03/2008 04:18:00 PM  

Hi Spy:
I bought my house on the Internet and never saw it until I moved in. Closed in three weeks, moving five states away. I'm not a golfer, but I like that no one's behind me. And there IS a creek behind me and LOADS of trees. I have tons of birds out back. And a pond downs the street. But no horses, alas.


I'll keep DH in my morning prayers.

spyscribbler 1/03/2008 04:22:00 PM  

Edie, isn't it fabulous? I hope so too, I want to write lots of fabulous books while he's gone!

Wow, owning a home sounds like a wonderful sacrifice. But I think there are just some things we're glad we did, but we'd rather not do.

That's pretty much why we're making this sacrifice now. But I worry. Am I going to turn around some time and wish I had spent more time with him? Will I hate that I wasted a few months for money?

I remember, when my dad died, I was furious that my mother had once grounded me from going downstairs and hanging out with my dad. I know I was young and stupid, but I would've given my left arm to just have one more day. You know?

spyscribbler 1/03/2008 04:27:00 PM  

But that's beautiful, Erica! Wow. When you describe it that way, living on a golf course sounds much better. :-)

Thanks for the prayers, Erica. I appreciate them a ton. Hey, they've done actual studies in hospitals that even when a person doesn't know they're being prayed for, they still fare better with prayers than without. So there is lots of power in prayer.

Josephine Damian 1/03/2008 10:28:00 PM  

Spy, Elizabeth has obviously never been to my writers group. I can name several writers who think their sucky writing is wonderful.

I also met a gal who won a huge writing prize and had to listen to how "great" her book was - I thought it was awful in spite of the prize - no surprise that the book tanked, her publisher and agent dropped her.

I see more delusional hubris than humility in writers.

Loved the Dickinson poem.

For a certain time period, I've sacrificed writing in favor of grad school. I'll have that diploma and career to fall back on during the vagaries, ups and downs of a writing career. I know so many writer/grad students (studying something other than writing) who've dropped out of school to write - I think they'd have been better off sticking it out, putting the writing on hold for a short time in order to have security and opportunity.

Aimless Writer 1/03/2008 10:54:00 PM  

Years ago I did Richard Simmon's videos. One thing he said stuck with me and I used it in many facets in my life;

"Never, never, never give up."

Simple enough? I write this on the pages of my first draft (many first drafts) I put it on a post it on my desk top. I have it on the main sceen of my phone and in my journals. Its the best advice I've ever gotten. (aside from my father who said "Keep your ears open and your big mouth shut!" :)
Hang in there Spy! Everyday tell yourself you will be happy just for today. Everyday. Cause all that matters is today.

Zoe Winters 1/04/2008 10:45:00 AM  

I love this post. I went and read the page of Elizabeth Gilbert's you linked. And it's so true. I'm just in my late twenties, but I feel like "I haven't submitted enough work," "I haven't gotten enough work ready for submission," "I should have done more by now, I should have accomplished more. I'm so behind."

spyscribbler 1/05/2008 08:55:00 AM  

Josephine, you're right. I've seen some of that, too, although I probably seek out the humble ones more, only because they know how I feel, LOL!

It sounds like grad school worked out well for you, and you'll always have that. In a way, you can say you were doing that for the writing, not choosing it above the writing.

spyscribbler 1/05/2008 08:56:00 AM  

Aimless, it's funny how the wisest wisdom is the simplest. I'm going to post that on my computer, too!

One day at a time. Definitely.

spyscribbler 1/05/2008 08:59:00 AM  

Zoe! Good to see you around! I don't feel so behind because of my age. I guess music is such an age-focused thing (99.9% of the music competitions won't even let you compete if you're over 28 or so) that I don't see that so much in writing.

I definitely do feel the pressure of time, though, that nagging fear that if I don't do it NOW, it'll never happen.

Zoe Winters 1/05/2008 11:05:00 AM  


Maybe that's what I'm feeling. Because I know intellectually that people are writing and publishing even for the first time way past my age. This isn't American Idol (though it makes me think now about that book contract contest online that was really American Idolesque...I wonder whatever happened with that.)

I think it's a mixture though, it's largely a regret that I didn't do more before. That I have wasted years where I didn't accomplish much of anything and writing has always been my dream. I think that's the issue, that at times I've lost sight of the prize.