Writing Against The Odds: Ignore The Noise

Have you ever heard it said I would love to write a book, if only I had the time? I hate to hear those words. They imply that writing is easy; some people think they can just sit down, one-day, and produce a story. I want to reply: I would love to be an astronaut or a theoretical physicist, if only I had the time. It is irrational to think writing is not serious, hard work. Some people think art is a childish past-time. However, we know writing is a craft, and the technique requires mastering, and sometimes that takes decades.

These people think since money buys everything, therefore it means everything, and dreams come, unfortunately, second. They understand little in regards to what a person is called to do. Unfortunately, haters are here to stay in our lives, so we will always be surrounded by people who grade another’s worth in numbers. Below are some examples of what you have, no-doubt, personally heard:

  • Do you know how difficult it is to get published? This is often the first frustration they reveal, as if you had not considered the odds. True, for some it is hard (depending on your goals), and recognition would be nice, if only to shut-you-up, but money is not the goal. Money and recognition are nice to have, but creatives would rather live without those things than work for them. See as an example, the entire life of James Joyce.
  • It is a fine dream, but take care of your life first, so that way, when you do not need to work anymore, you can go for it. Again, money is never the goal. These people always think in terms of money (that famous glass castle). I find it ironic when religious people give this opinion. Jesus teaches that nothing robs a person more of who they are—and their salvation—than the cares of this world. They are literally asking you to say to God, whether they realize it or not, I know you made me for this, but you were wrong about the timing. Trust me, God is on the side of those whom obey his call, and not with those who heed worldly-wisdom (common sense). Heaven’s wisdom never has and never will make sense to the ways of the world.
  • It does not pay well. Blah, again, it is always about money. No writer writes for money; no painter paints to be rich. Personally, I give away the wealth I already have. If I made a million from a book, I would not keep more than a couple years of expenses (if I needed them). Nothing frightens me more than arriving into old age with wealth and security, because I fulfilled someone else’s dream. The biggest lie America, ever told is that God wants you healthy and wealthy. No! God wants you humble, obedient, and kind to one another.
  • It sends the wrong message to your kids. What a foolish and hypocritical thing to say. Artists are not burn-outs: they have mortgages, they have families, they have financial goals too, but they, as best they can, resist this horrid ultra-capitalist attention-economy. I want my kids to be themselves, and not what the world tells them they should be. I want them to make smart decisions, but not decisions to fit-in. They will be a great disappointment to me if they sacrifice spiritual and personal goals for financial and professional reasons. I would be ashamed!
  • Most people fail doing this. One, these people don’t actually know very many artists or they would realize that failure, as they regard it, is a subjective construct. I see failure as never writing, regardless of recognition. Some writers would say the opposite: to be published makes it real for them. Others, like Emily Dickinson, refused to be published until after her death (she thought fame might rupture her creativity). You are a writer now, and not, only, after someone reads your work.

These are only a few of the experiences we have all had, but every artist has their own unique resistance to work against. One thing God has been working with me on, is judge not, lest you be judged accordingly. Until recently, I never conceived this as being karma, but it is true: what you put out, you get back: if I criticize others, I invite criticism into my life; if I judge other’s life-style, they will judge me by mine. As an LGBTQ+ Christian (we won’t get into that), I have quite a bit of conflict in my heart. I should keep my mind off of others and onto God.

I have an unhealthy inner dialogue with my haters; they live in my head rent-free. Every new idea seems, internally, to have-its-say against them (family). I confess to being human: I want justification, I want to be believed in, I want support, I want respect, but it is not going to happen. It takes courage to be who you are, when you have to go it alone. You cannot please everyone, so focus on your inner-circle of support. At some point, we all need to give up on wanting to please everyone. This is my prayer:

Lord, I worry about how others think of me, how they see me, and how they unapprove of my efforts. Lord, you know I spent years, a decade, trying it their way, giving all of myself to corporate work-culture, collecting accolades from work-achievements, saving more money than I need, concerning myself with the cares of this world, worrying over my future, planning everything down to the last detail. I did not know, when I could no longer be who everyone else wanted me to be that I would feel so rejected. I believed their love ran deeper than it did. I did everything right for years, exactly as it was suppose to be, and where did it get me? It got me one year ago, last week, in the ER, wanting to take my own life. I can’t go back to pretending to be someone I am not, and they can’t support me on this journey. Jesus, I trust you, and I give all of myself up to you. You are my only true friend. You have blessed me with the ability and opportunity to go after what you created me for, and I will not say no this time; I will write for you. You are worth all the hurt; you are the object of my complete devotion. Thank you for my wife, whom is my greatest, next to you, support and best friend. Reveal to me how I can be, everyday, the man she prays for. Thank you for my children. Reveal to me, Lord, how I am to raise them to seek you above all else. Thank you for my doubters. Reveal to me Lord, how I can glorify you with the work you have called me to do. Lord, thank you for creating me. Lord, thank you for pushing me forward, when I want to give up.

-Amen

Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk. Keep writing friends!

Other Personal Posts:

A World of Distraction

I wonder if anyone else notices just how loud the forest is? A living organic city. One where God is still mayor.

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