So often I read Steve’s “Writing Wednesdays” posts and think he’s writing about me.
Did you read his last article? It’s the one titled “Being Ignored.”
Steve tackled why he wrote—not for a New York Times review or a spot on a bestseller list, but for himself:
I wrote for twenty-eight years before I got a novel published. I can’t tell you how many times friends and family members, lovers, spouses implored me for my own sake to wake up and face reality.
Because my reality was not the New York Times or the bestseller list or even simply getting an agent and having a meeting with somebody. My reality was, If I stop writing I will have to kill myself.
I have no choice.
I don’t know why I was born like this, I don’t know what it means; I can’t tell you if it’s crazy or deluded or even evil.
I have to keep trying.
It wasn’t my own writing that came to mind while reading “Being Ignored,” but something that has shredded my heart for almost a decade, a thing that occurred to someone I love. I’m not going into it here, other than to say that I’ve been fighting for this loved one and in the process I have gained weight and wrinkles, lost hair and humor, and for as many rivers I’ve cried, my creative output has gone dry.
Like Steve and his writing, it would be accurate to say I can’t not do what I’m doing, because not doing it isn’t an option.
That’s the part of “Being Ignored” that resonated with me. I have to do what I’m doing.
I’m not doing it for the New York Times or Oprah or any other fame, but . . . I’m angered by the response to my efforts, similar to an artist carrying anger for the response to a book or painting or album not being what’s expected or wanted.
So much time and energy and heart are invested—and then mix in the pain of doing the work.
It’s hard not to be angry.
Enter Steve’s article “Fruits of Our Labor,” in which he mentioned Krishna’s instructions to Arjuna:
“We have a right to our labor, but not to the fruits of our labor.”
I’m angered by the shape of the fruits of my labor (and the lack of fruit, too).
Stopped me in my tracks for a long time.
Sucked every bit of creativity from my soul and passion from my heart.
And I let it.
It wasn’t responsible for the taking.
I was responsible for the giving.
The time for family? Gone.
The time for friends? Gone.
All because I wouldn’t let go of wanting to control the results.
That thing in my life looks like writing in someone else’s life, and painting in another someone else’s life, and starting a business, and doing whatever it is that is that someone else’s thing.
Being ignored hurts.
Being angry at being ignored will shred you to bits, to the point you aren’t creating anything worthy of being ignored anymore. Vicious cycle—and one I needed to be reminded of this week in particular.
“Being Ignored” hit on Halloween.
Halloween is one of my favorite days. It marks the anniversary of the day I discovered a new creative outlet: makeup and costuming. I love bringing to life different characters, using my kids and my husband as my canvas. I almost gave that love away this year.
So . . . Thanks, Steve.
I know you weren’t writing about me. But as far as “what it takes” goes, this is exactly what it took for me this week.
I wanted to be angry, but I needed to create.