A friend at work asked if he could read my short stories some time.
“What stories?” I said. “I don’t really write stories anymore. Sometimes I do. But I don’t finish them. I just don’t feel compelled, really.”
Admitting that I wasn’t working on anything specific used to be a moment of sickening defeat for me; it’d make me feel defected. Like I was failing at this “writer” stuff. Like writing was an orgasm I’d have to fake if I wanted to feel loved.
In truth, the “writer” title is not something I ever sought after. It was something that happened to me sometimes, in verb form… spontaneously. Sometimes I was decent at it. Sometimes it had soul. Sometimes I’d get recognized, or win prizes. So when did it become a stigma? This thing that I was supposed to do consistently, fuel and re-fuel, like it was the benevolent force running my life?
Label anything, and it becomes what it is not.
(Keep faking orgasms, and the sex is dreadful!)
“I see!” my friend at work said (regarding the writing…). There was no judgement. No lecture on laziness or perseverance. No pity or party-foul.
“This must be a time to live the stories!” he said.
Yes and more yes. 🙂
To my future clients, I say this:
Let the wild world churn your heart into butter. Again and again and again, until you hate butter. Until you wish it were anything else, something worse, like cottage cheese. And let it churn your heart again, once more, until you can’t live without the butter’s creamy sweet taste. Until butter is all that you are able to give. And so, you do.
And while it might sound counter-intuitive for a creative writing coach to spread this message, I believe with all that I am and all that I am not, that it’s in everyone’s best interest. The clients who find me, the clients who are ready, they are bursting with stories. They’re sick with stories. They can’t breathe until they puff them out of their airstream. They are the clients willing to commit to the work that stories require only when they are ready to be worked on, because, as Bukowski points out in his linked poem below: “there is no other way. And there never was.”
Bukowski Poem, “So You Want to be a Writer?”
If it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it. unless it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut, don’t do it. if you have to sit for hours staring at your computer screen or hunched over your typewriter searching for words, don’t do it. if you’re doing it for money or fame, don’t do it. if you’re doing it because you want women in your bed, don’t do it. if you have to sit there and rewrite it again and again, don’t do it. if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it, don’t do it. if you’re trying to write like somebody else, forget about it. if you have to wait for it to roar out of you, then wait patiently. if it never does roar out of you, do something else. if you first have to read it to your wife or your girlfriend or your boyfriend or your parents or to anybody at all, you’re not ready. don’t be like so many writers, don’t be like so many thousands of people who call themselves writers, don’t be dull and boring and pretentious, don’t be consumed with self- love. the libraries of the world have yawned themselves to sleep over your kind. don’t add to that. don’t do it. unless it comes out of your soul like a rocket, unless being still would drive you to madness or suicide or murder, don’t do it. unless the sun inside you is burning your gut, don’t do it. when it is truly time, and if you have been chosen, it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die or it dies in you. there is no other way. and there never was. – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16549#sthash.e7B3BmXi.dpuf