May 9, 2010

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Just Sheep In Wolves’ Clothing.
May 9, 2009

 “Obstacles are those frightening things we see when we take our eyes off our goals.”

Henry Ford

Being human, it’s all too easy to talk ourselves into and out of things; especially when venturing outside of our comfort zones — you know, those times we’re sure we’re delusional in lieu of inspired, scribblers instead of writers, fooling ourselves instead of honoring our proclivities as we measure success and worth in ways that turn perfectly good dreams into the playthings of children.

When we’re staring into the eyes of our dearest dreams, it’s easy to convince ourselves to give up or to run like hell in the opposite direction, a.k.a., in the direction of the safe and familiar (and adult), whether or not it makes us happy to do so. It’s safer not to put ourselves out there, not to risk failure, not to expose our soul and its multi-colored dreams, not to let ourselves believe we may have what it takes to reach our goals — because falling short could be quite a painful wake-up call, indeed.

What if we don’t make it to our chosen destination? What if Fate and Destiny conjoin in a conspiracy against us with a different outcome in mind?

At least it won’t be because we turned tail and ran. It doesn’t mean we’ll stop writing. And, as long as we keep writing, we make new hope, new possible outcomes, new destinies.

The truth is, there are many, many aspiring writers and only so many books published in a year — approximately 172,000 — and only 1000 of those books sell over 50,000 copies. (Yikes.) Looking at it that way, it sounds sort of bleak …

And yet, it sounds possible. Compared to many other things, such as a singing career (when your singing voice shatters glass), winning 186 million in the state lottery, or owning an elephant AND a zebra, it’s possible. With hard work, sacrifice, doubting moments, inspired moments; with seeing obstacles, if you have to see them, as no more than a shirt and a pair of jeans tossed over a chair; it’s just a shirt and a pair of jeans throwing a respectable shadow, not a midnight marauder waiting to pounce.

Fear is like that; it throws a shadow much larger than the concern, itself. It’s just sheep in wolves’ clothing, life’s well-meaning tests to see if we really, really want something and if we really, really mean it.

It’s the only way to weed out some writers from others as we circle 172,000 musical chairs, poised to spring when the music stops, our sparkly manuscripts hugged to our hearts.

There’s an easy way to lose that chair, and to give up your chances: by seeing those obstacles as wolves in sheep’s clothing, instead. To question yourself endlessly, doubt yourself completely, to turn perfectly good dreams into nightmares. All you’ll do is waste precious time you could be investing in writing, reading and learning craft.

All you’ll do is become your own dream-killer, before fate and destiny have a chance to take over the reins. Thinking about it that way, being an unrequited writer has much more appeal. And, riding the wild dream no matter how it turns out, whether or not it leads to publication, will result in the greatest gift of all: being true to yourself and your dreams, because, as we always hear, it’s the journey, not the destination that counts. It’s also the journey that makes for the BEST writing.

“What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.”


Lucky for us, we can write all about it; we can weave our fear and hope into a poignant pattern that resurrects the dreams of both writers and readers. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream, you know. Who would want it any other way?

” … To feel the width and amusement of human life: not to strain to make a pattern just yet: to be made supple, and to let the juice of usual things, talk, character, seep through me, quietly, involuntarily, before I say Stop and take out my pen.”

 Virginia Woolf

A Writer’s Diary

And so I whisper comforts to myself, as my partial in hard-copy makes its excited way to the big city, New York City, along with my hopes and dreams: at least you continue on the wild ride. At least the journey is exciting and inspired. Don’t forget; don’t forget to value that.

I won’t.

I promise.

The joy of fresh office supplies!