Saturday, January 21, 2012

Non-attachment - What does it mean for a writer?

Hi all.  I haven't posted in ages, it seems.  I did "finish" Windfall and three of my beta readers are now done with it and I seem to have significantly improved the thing on this rewrite.  Whew.  I just reread chapter 1 today and I guess it is okay.  I still think I have so much to learn.

I remember when I first started the project.  I'd wanted to create a fantasy universe since I was in 5th grade or so, so it had been a long standing dream of mine.  When I started staying home with my kids I decided to go for it.  I figured I'd have enough free time to make it into something for the first time in my life. Since I wasn't working. Ha!  Now I'm working, divorced, watching my kids, AND writing. Boy was I wrong about how much time you can squeeze out of a day to write.

The point of all this is to tell you that my first draft of Windfall - and by first I mean really second.   Hmm. Well anyway, my earlier drafts of Windfall really sucked.  And they sucked for a lot of reasons.

The first was my writing. It was tangly.  It didn't flow and it was confusing.  Like the way I think, honestly. I have to work hard to fix that in everything I write. I tend to be very... let's say non-linear.

The second was me.  Yeah, it was.  I think that's why it hurt so much knowing it wasn't good.  Sure part of it was a sense of desperation that this was my shot and I had to do it, do it right away, make it fabulous the first time or give up.  And part of it was how much time I'd already invested.  I mean a serious amount of hours went into this thing and I'm still not sure it's ready.  But the truth is that I feared deep down inside it was me - as in my personality - getting in the way of the work.  And today I think I was right.  I'm not saying I'm not a likable person or anything.  But what I've learned from yoga is that my energy can sometimes get overwhelming for others.  I can just get so strung out and invested in something, so pushy and intense, that others just run for cover because they don't want to be around that.  It's just a tendency I have.

Yoga helps me with this.  It helps me to stay calm and to have what's called non-attachment.  Not detachment but the ability to accept what comes with a tranquil mindset.  In yoga we learn that some things are seen by us as good and others as bad but the truth is there are really just things that happen and it is only us that puts the judgement on them.  And since we aren't all-knowing, our judgement of good and bad is often simply wrong; we don't know our future.  Also, we can stay more calm in the face of change when we try to judge the change less.  I don't mean to say that we shouldn't or won't feel things but just that we can distance ourselves enough from those emotions that we don't let them rule us or take us over.  It's hard.  Often I fail at it.  But that's okay too.  When I fail, I still love myself anyway.

I hope that my energy is more attractive to others this way.  That I'm not so overwhelming and intense.  But I imagine it is a process that will take time to master.  But I assure you that the energy of my writing is directly related to the energy of me.

And so that brings me to writing.  How is it possible to put so much of yourself into your work knowing that it may never be read by more than a handful of your friends?  I'm not sure.  But one thing I know is this. When my life is good - meaning I have a safe place to live, yummy food to eat, my health, family and friends and interesting projects to work on - there is no reason for me to feel desperate for some sort of riches or fame that might come if I was a best-selling author.  I've no idea if I'd even like that.  So the trick for me to find more peace in my writing was to find more peace in myself and how I deal with my life.  It's been really tough to do that while moving and getting divorced.  But today I feel a peace.  I'm working hard, doing chores and such, and yet it feels really peaceful and good.  There is contentment to what I have in this moment.  

My perfect moment might be hugging my boys while we watch a movie or even shoveling my driveway or gardening.  Mindfulness (like is found in yoga) makes simple little tasks suddenly feel more interesting than they ever did before.  So I can be less invested in the outcome of this project and hopefully keep my sanity.  Course it would be cool if people wanted to talk about my characters or if I didn't have to worry about how I was going to pay next month's bills but I'm somehow okay if writing never pays a single bill and if nobody but my dad talks to me about my characters.  I'm definitely going to keep trying - and I still haven't sent Windfall off to one single agent - but this year I will.  And if it gets picked up - cool - and if it doesn't, I will know that I loved it and it was fun to do.  And maybe - just maybe - that means I'm okay now to send it out.  Now I can almost say - I don't care what happens - it isn't true, I do still care very much, but finally that caring isn't making me insane.

1 comment:

MotherReader said...

I'm probably not the best to offer encouragement as I can't get my own book finished, but hell with it - YOU GO GIRL! I love your attitude and wish you lots of luck. And more writing, always more writing.