Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"You haven't failed until you quit trying"

It’s amazing how, when you hold a question in mind and really open yourself to receiving an answer, the answer always comes to you eventually, and it will keep coming to you until you finally heed it. I’m not talking about receiving an answer from your mind - the mind has no answers, it simply regurgitates the same old conditioned mindcrap that leads you to the point of having questions upon questions in the first place. No, you have to be open to receiving an answer from...wherever else. Sometimes the answer arises from a state beyond mind; at a level deeper than thought, where it simply comes as an innate knowing. Other times the answer arises on an external level. You happen to open a book at a certain page which seems so freakishly relevant to your predicament. You turn on the TV or radio and happen to hear an expert dispensing some surprisingly pertinent advice. Snippets of old songs, poems, or inspirational quotations - these can all be sources of answers. How do you know it’s an answer? I guess, if it resonates with your current predicament and FEELS like an answer. Then there are other people - the ones you can go to who always offer sound advice and admirable wisdom.

Since I had my mini-creative meltdown the other day, in which I seriously questioned whether or not to continue persevering with getting my novel published, I’ve received a string of such ‘answers’. The moment I even posted that blog, I had a very deep and insistent feeling rise within me. It’s hard to put that feeling into words, but it was something along the lines of “oh come on, stop the self-indulgence and just get on with it!” tinged with an element of “you know better than this.” Then I started coming across numerous quotations and articles which seemed to directly speak to my situation. The advice was all the same: acknowledge the difficulties and persevere. I started reading the next chapter of ‘The Artist’s Way’ and was struck by the following passage, which I immediately attacked with a highlighter pen:

"One of the most difficult tasks an artist must face is a primal one: artistic survival. All artists must learn the art of surviving loss: loss of hope, loss of face, loss of money, loss of self-belief. In addition to our gains, we inevitably suffer these losses in an artistic career. They are hazards of the road and, in many ways, its signposts. Artistic losses can be turned into artistic gains and strengths - but not in the isolation of the beleagured artist's brain."

The whole chapter seemed to be just what I needed to read at just that time.

I received similar advice from a couple of other people; some in direct response to my blog deliberations (thanks GaySocrates!) and some because it just seemed to spontaneously arise in the moment.

The last straw was when using an iphone application last night when the following quotation popped up on the screen: “The only failure is to quit trying.”

I just about started laughing. OK, I get the message! I really do. I already kind of knew it inside me anyway.

I think genuine art is a sacred act. The artist opens up and connects with a creative force which lies within and yet beyond the boundaries of self. It’s almost like entering a stream or flow. True creativity comes not from the mind, but through the mind. By creating something through accessing this flow, it then seems disrespectful to the creative flow (call it what you will) to then criticise, doubt and give up on that creation. Many artists will probably know what I mean when I say ‘it’s not really ‘me’ who did the work in the first place - it's more like it flowed through me.’ These words that are appearing on the screen right now; they aren’t so much coming from me as they are coming through me, pouring through my mind and, thanks to my deft fingers, are appearing onto the screen, about to be beamed across cyberspace. Where did they originate? Some unknown, mysterious, invisible force. Julia Cameron says that one of the key principles of creativity is that, as artists, it is our job to DO the work and not judge the work!

It would be disrespectful to both myself and the intangible creative force that collaborated with me on my novel to let it sit gathering dust. At least if I try every agent in the world and get rejected by all of them I’ll be able to know that I tried. And heck, if they don’t want to publish my book, then I’LL publish it. Again, it’s not going to be one of those ‘I need this to happen in order to be at peace/happy/fulfilled’. I can be that without getting published. Getting published is just a little extra, just something I want to do because I can; and because I have something I would like to share with the world. The world might like it or it might be indifferent, but either way I’ll have done my part.

So, I’m going to recommit to getting published. And why not? I’m going to try to take the personalisation out of it this time: for instance, my novel being rejected does not equal ME being rejected. It just means a certain someone doesn’t relate to it. They maybe prefer reading celebrity autobiographies. Fair play to them!

We’ll see how it plays out. Who knows, I might even go from hating and despising the whole process to actually finding it strangely fun. I guess stranger things have happened. It’s all in the attitude.

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