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Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Importance of Being Earnest

Wait. Who's really earnest anymore?

According to my good friends Merriam and Webster:

Earnest -- A serious and intent mental state

So...I guess everyone. Everyone being all writer-folks. Unless you're those bubbly, giddy writer-types who jot down magical things as easy as they sneeze. Then you probably spend less time being earnest, more time being pelted with things BY earnest writer-folks.

What was my post about? Oh yeah:

It's taken a few years, a lot of personal revelations, a dash of terror, a smidgen of heartache (woa, smidgen is recognized as a word! Another personal revelation...), and a healthy dose of confounded-ness for me to get to a place where I can begin piecing together some semblance of a personal philosophy. You know, an outlook on life. My hakuna matata. Me manifesto. A compendium of all my beliefs.

I know. Heavy stuff.

But, like most aspects of life, I've found that it only takes looking at writing to really see what I believe. Because everything I need to believe, I have come to believe through the writing world. And one of the most important things I've come to learn (and am still in the process of perfecting, mind you) is the ability and dire importance to let myself feel.

Earnestness, anger, jealousy, rage, sorrow, depression, guilt -- you name it. It happens. It happens a LOT. It happens when people get kick-ass deals and I'm still floating in submission land (Pirates are notorious for having SHORT FUSES. Someone buy them SOON or they will attack the publishing industry with their steamboats and water nymphs and crocpeople and I won't be able to do a THING about it). It happens when one of my awesome friends sends me a KILLER manuscript and I grovel in my perpetual inability to commit to any story long enough to even DEVELOP a manuscript, yet alone a killer one. It happens when I end another week without having done any of the research I'd intended to do, and see an entire 7 days I could've used to get that much farther ahead with any of my could-be-awesome ideas.

I used to fight it. I used to feel those feelings coming on and fight them tooth and nail, violently opposed to letting myself admit I felt those things. No, I wasn't jealous. No, I wasn't angry. No, I wasn't *insert adjective here*. I wasn't I wasn't Iwasn't. I was strong and talented and capable and totally and completely in control of my future and career and feelings and I would NOT succumb to petty little emotions and see, I feel better already?

But smushing those feelings down doesn't do anyone a damn bit of good. In fact, it just makes them stronger the next time they come. And the next time. And the next. And before you know it, you're hyperventilating in the car on the way home from your "real" job because there were 5 more hours you COULD'VE spent writing, dammit, but you DIDN'T, and now you're going to go home and just make dinner and veg in front of the TV all night because you're too tired to write, and there'll go ANOTHER 5 hours...

So I tried something once. I felt a wave of jealousy rise up in me. And I -- let it. I saw it and waved to it. "Hey, I know you. You're that green thing that's been here before. How's it going?"

And you know what? It nodded at me. Brushed some dust off its coat. And took a seat in the back corner, foregoing any of its usual quiet bickering.

It's something I learned from Eat Pray Love. To embrace you, all of you, every flawed bit. We've been trained to resist bad things, to fight the good fight. But it's so much easier, so much less stressful, to just let it be. To recognize the bad stuff welling up inside of you but say "I see it. It's okay. I still love you."

So, next time you feel yourself needing to be earnest, ride it out. Unless that earnestness compels you to pelt bubbly, giddy writer-type people with blocks of Post Its. Then by all means, harness that earnestness and pelt away.


Jill Wheeler said...

Aaaaaaaaah, I so get this. Especially the part about getting home and watching TV instead of writing.

And, oh yeah, the jealousy part. ;)

Dara said...

A big resounding YES, to every part of this post. I mean, my little wordcount widget has been at the same place for more than a month now...and every time I look at my blog, a pang of guilt goes through me.

And then I watch TV :P