I keep getting this message: Focus on the love of what you are doing and let go of the form in which you’re hoping your desire will be delivered.
I love to write. I do. But, I questioned this for a little while this week and last. After my intenSati training, when I had this new a beautiful thing on which to focus my attention, I set my writing aside. I think because it wasn’t “happening.” And intenSati was “happening.” I could book a studio (done). And teach a class (also done)! There were things to do. It was like instant gratification. As opposed to the writing, which, in terms of my novels, have not yielded the same external validation and gratification.
So I was actually wondering whether I even liked writing. But I do. And this is how I know: I know I love to write because when I write, a few pages of a novel, a blog post, or an article, I wake up the next morning feeling like I can breathe. And it’s the sort of breath that is the kind you snort when you have something really exciting to tell someone. So, okay, I convinced myself that I like to write.
But in the course of focusing on what I didn’t have (a book deal), I almost let go of that love.
During the time I was questioning the love, I heard from a coach I work with that she got a huge book deal last week. I really tried to stay in the place of happiness for her – I believe in her work. And I told myself this is great news: there are companies out there still published books! And some are giving huge advances!
But I woke up the next morning swimming in negative thoughts! Drowning! “Your writing is nothing like hers. She writes self-help. You write fiction. She’s got a unique voice and a solid platform. You’ll never get a deal like that.” I can still hear this little rat saying these things exactly how it said them that morning. I can hear that voice so much more clearly than I can hear the encouraging voice that tries desperately to drown it out.
So I wrote this person an email. A confession. I told her I was excited about her deal. I admitted to clinging to reassuring concessions. Finally I copped to the negative feelings I woke up with.
She suggested I focus on the love I have for the craft of writing and the belief in what I am putting out there, instead of the deal I hope comes as a result. In her words, the deal is the frame, and the writing and the craft and the love and the feeling of waking up like I am finally breathing fresh air is the content – the important substance of the picture in the frame. Focus on the content, she told me.
I used this story, in not so many words, as the intro for my intenSati class on Saturday. I asked my class of eight beloved students if they could choose to live in love, instead of in lack. In every area of life – love, career, money – you can live in love, instead of lack. You can commit to go out and date and have fun, instead of worrying you’ll never find the one, you can commit to finding and focusing on something in your career that you really love without dwelling on the raise you’re not getting, you can commit to living in true gratitude for what you have, not devoting energy to lamenting what you’re lacking.
I can attest to one fact: it’s not always easy. I forgot I was focusing on love yesterday and went right back into the space of lack. I found myself saying, more than once, “It’s not happening!” (Forget the fact that my second novel isn’t being pitched to publishers yet; it’s not even in the hands of an editorial assistance! I haven’t even given it a chance, and I’m already saying it’s not happening.)
Then I remembered two things that brought me back to love.
There is a copy of my first novel circulating among my mother’s friends and acquaintances. A woman who has known me for many years read it and promptly emailed my mother. She wrote at length about how she identified with the plight of the main character in some respects and how in other ways, it made her feel for the generations that proceeded her, because the character has many a self-image crisis. As the mother of one son, she may never have thought very much about “girls today.” In the fact that she emailed me mother such a lovely detailed message about my book…there…right there. That’s an amazing thing.
Second: A colleague of my father’s bought a copy of the novel; a real hard-back I created on Lulu.com. My father had been holding onto the copy for two months, but he finally remembered to have me sign it. So, I signed my first book this weekend. Another amazing thing.
So, the goal is to make sure that these awesome things register as awesome as the things I perceive right now as the super awesome things. They all represent the love I have for writing. And the love I poured into the novel is the love that’s being reflected back to me by these people who have read it.
So I choose to feel the love. To live in love. And I also choose to remind myself: It’s happening. It’s already on its way. It may not be happening on my schedule, but I’ll get there. I am only defeated when I accept defeat. And if it’s not this…then it’s going to be something better.