WRITING IS HELL

Hell2jpgLet me repeat that. Writing is hell. Of course, sometimes it’s joyful and wonderfully enlivening and all that, but there are times when it is just plain hell. Lately I have been struggling with the historical novel that I have been working on for the last couple of years.

My frustration with this enormous task has been building. Yesterday, I was ready to give up and stop. I was in such a dark place that the whole gargantuan enterprise and my entire life seemed a crazy waste. Such global negativity was a clear signal to me that I needed to Get Present. So I called a friend who knows the Compassionate Witness Process from the Creative Explosion workshop and I enlisted her help.

As I focused on my body sensations, I felt such anger and frustration arise that I wanted to trash my room and throw my computer out the window. After satisfying that fantasy, I started feeling deeply sad. It seemed that writing this book was like digging a tunnel with a teaspoon. The image was vivid. But, worse, in this moving picture in my mind, I was not attempting to get myself out of prison, I was stupidly digging my way into a jail cell. So when I completed the book, that’s where I would land—trapped in a jail cell with my unpublished, unread book. Horrible. Why would I want to do that to myself? What was the point? No one asked me to write the damn book. I don’t have to. I could stay out in the sunshine, relax on a bench, watch the world go by, and do nothing. Why would I want to engage in such a useless, Sisyphean task? How self-punishing!

That’s where the Getting Present Process ended. Of course, the purpose of being present is to be present. Many times enlightenment happens in the Process, but sometimes, for those of us so trained in childhood to suppress feelings, we need help just to feel. I know I do.

An hour later, I met via the phone with my wonderful writing support group who encouraged me to keep working on my book. When our meeting finished, I got up to make a cup of tea. Crossing the room, I was stopped by a kind of stunning thought: “What if you are digging this tunnel, not to put yourself in jail, but to rescue and release something or someone that you deeply love to get them out of jail?”

That was a much better version of my tunnel digging. More about love than ego. Trying to get something or someone out of jail. What?  I don’t know. Maybe I’ll find out when I get there.

My despair and frustration lifted. I know that this shift in context doesn’t mean writing this book won’t continue to be like digging a tunnel with a teaspoon, but now I feel as if I have a greater purpose to deal with the difficulty of it. Now that original picture of digging my way into a prison seemed wise and right—as if some higher part of me was trying to tell me something I had misinterpreted.

This blog deals with the Being Present Principle and using the Compassionate Witness process. 

CLIMBING THE LADDER OF FEAR

Stop sign“I’m not good enough,” my friend says. Ah, the universal lament of artists who are trying to market themselves or their wares. That thought is a perfect block. It stops one every time like a lit up stop sign on the road to fulfillment. The light is red, and the words on the stop sign are written in bold caps. I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH. And though it’s a false sign placed on a road where there are no cross streets, you dutifully brake and wait for the light to change. But it won’t ever change to green because it was put there by the devil. (In my theology the devil equals unfelt fear.)

“Okay,” I say to her. “Do you want to get present?” (She has done my Creative Explosion workshop and knows the drill.) Of course her immediate response is “No.” Right. Who wants to get present when the feelings may be difficult? No one.

But, with a sigh, she finally agrees.

“So, what sensation are you experiencing in your body?”

“I’m exhausted. And my heart is pounding.”

“So, sink into your exhaustion for a moment.”

She does. “My heart is really pounding.”

“Put your attention right in your heart. What does it feel like?”

“I’m getting the image of a huge waterslide.”

“Good. Can you go up to the water slide?”

“I’m on the ladder. I’m really scared. I’m alone. Oh, now, there are a lot of people around.” She sounds lighter. Amused. “Oh, one just gave me a little nudge to go!”

“What are you experiencing right now?”

“I’m going down the slide. It’s exciting. It’s fun! Oh! I forgot that fear and excitement are in the same place in the body!”

“Right. Fear says, ‘I can’t.’ Excitement says, ‘I can.’ But we have to be willing to get out of avoidance and feel the fear before that can happen, right?”

“Right! Okay. I know what I’m going to do to market my book today!”

“Go for it. You have written a wonderful book.”

So simple, and so powerful is this process to get one moving. Here’s the pattern:

  1. Avoiding feeling by believing negative thoughts.
  2. Experiencing the fear in your body separate from those thoughts.
  3. Getting clear about what action to take.
  4. Taking action..

But, sometimes we need a little nudge.

There is still time to enroll in the May Creative Explosion workshop.