Monday, December 17, 2012

To Believe or Not to Believe, THAT is Da Question.


I've come to the conclusion there is one single rule in writing: There are no rules in writing. There is also only one constant in writing: The dire wish to write. And there is the Inevitable: The doubt on our skills and the fear we're not good enough. It doesn't matter whether the writer is published or unpublished, no one is untouchable. Doubt and Fear will rear their ugly head at some point in everybody's road, or at many points.

A teacher once told me whenever I found something hard to do, I should not think "I can't do it." Instead, I should think "I don't know how to do it." Thinking you can't do something leaves you without options. Thinking you don't know how, means you will achieve your goal as soon as you figure out how. It isn't a matter of skills or ability, it's a matter of knowledge.

Following this advice, I've practically devoured every bit of information I could about writing. Ironically, the more I learned, the more difficult the task became. As I struggled to digest the information, I got away from the "I don't know how" and leaned closer and closer to the "I can't do it." I lost myself in a maze of lessons, doubts and questions. The horizon disappeared from sight and frustration clouded the reason why I was doing all this search in the first place.

I stopped writing. I couldn't read the "map." Directions became enigmas and riddles. All of a sudden, the only thought spinning in my mind was "I can't do this." I know nothing. I understand little. Obstacles are too many. I'll never get it right.

I am a dragon. Fantasy is what I'm made of and magic is part of my everyday life. My belief there are such things as magic in the real world is what keeps me here. The day I stop believing is the day I'll disappear. This means, I do believe in signs from the Higher Spheres. I believe in conversation with a Greater Power, the one who made me just as I am: a writer dragon.

When I was close to dump everything and give up on finishing the stories I'm working on, there were questions repeating themselves in my mind. My heart turned to the Higher Powers.

"I am not a quitter. Quitting is just out of the question, but should I give up for a while? There are other forms of art I am better at and I can do so I let the writing rest. Should I do this? Or should I ignore all doubts, just sort it out and go ahead? Should I return to the starting point? Should I quit trying to learn so much so fast?"

As a dragon, I understand the Higher Powers do not speak in tenor's voice from the sky. They speak to me through others and through daily events. So my questions went to a Knight, friend of dragons. Sir Jeff's letter was eloquent and his general message was "Keep writing and trust on your heart to do this right."

But the Higher Powers were not done talking yet. I take inspiration from movies and books as well. I had offer author Catherine McLean to read her new book and make a review here. The book is Jewels of the Sky and the review is still to come. But it made me feel an excitement and hunger for adventure I had not felt in a while. It refreshed my wish to write and the confidence I could do it well.

Additionally, I promised mother dragon I would take her to the premier of The Hobbit. Whereas I enjoyed the movie, there was a part that echoed loudly in my heart. A snippet of conversation between Balin and Thorin, where Balin is saying Thorin doesn't have to fight the dragon. I don't remember the exact words but he says something like: "You have given your people a new home in the Blue Mountains. Forget Erebor." And Thorin's answer was that his ancestors didn't pass on to him a key expecting he would forget their home. He said, "You have that option. I don't." 

I have met two titans in my life. Two individuals whose fortitude, resilience and determination are worth of heroic songs. To them I promised I would never quit fighting for my goals. Thorin spoke the reminder from Above about my vow.

My last sign was the perfect wrapping and summary of all answers I asked for. I had a hunch I had to go see The Origin of the Guardians. My money was enough for one single ticket. It was either the Guardians or The Hobbit. I paid for the Hobbit. It was just too much coincidence that the theater made a silly mistake and tried to mend it by giving me free passes to another movie. I got to see the Guardians for free. That was, I guess, the clearest sign it was meant for me to see both.

The Guardians talk about fear and about fantasy and magic and dreams. The Guardians show you how fear and doubt destroy everything your child's heart believe in. We writers might not fear the boogeyman, but we fear nonetheless, and we fear a lot. It is this fear that kill our determination to keep writing. It kills our stories and our dreams. It is this fear that often makes the child inside us shut up and hide in the darkest corner of our hearts. The Guardians question people what is in our core. What are we made of? What's our special virtue that identifies us, individually?

It certainly hit home with me as I understood fear is only as big as I want to make it. It is as invincible as I let it be. My doubts get a hold of my heart in the extent of the fear that dwells inside me. This is no children tale. This is true. It happens to me, it happens to everybody I've read posts from these days. No one can save us from the boogeyman but our own wish to believe we have everything we need to defeat it. The understanding that it will be as big or as small, as powerful or powerless to defeat me as I let it be.

To me, it is the choice to believe fantastic magic can happen in this real world as well. We writers weave dreams. We should not loose the ability to marvel. We believe in muses, do we not? Then why not to believe we are also Guardians of Words and Guardians of the worlds we've created? Published or unpublished, they already exist, whether in paper or in our minds. We may choose to believe we're small and boogeyman is invincible and quit the writing, OR we may choose to believe there's a true writer in our core, a maker of worlds, and we are the Guardians of that core.

This brings to my mind a piece of writing that has accompanied me for many years. From Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke.

"How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave.
Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us. So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like cloud shadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall..."

The Higher Spheres have answered the questions of this dragon and I choose to believe in me, so Father Dragon can keep existing in this, the real world.

What do you choose for yourself?










12 comments:

  1. Downright inspirational, Al. I'm happy beyond words that you heard the voices of the Higher Powers and found them encouraging. (Oh, and now I'm going to have to watch The Guardians.)

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    1. Thank you for the advice and the friendship. :) And yes, that movie is a *must*.

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  2. I'm glad you listened to the voices too-- the Higher Power one. I haven't thought about giving up on writing, but I am really reconsidering the type of writing I want to do.

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    1. I suggest conversation with Highest Powers as well. Works every time for me although sometimes they may give me a smack in the back of the head instead of movies, hehehe. It depends on how intent I'm listening. :)

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  3. The only way we fail is if we let fear talk us into quitting. Glad you found your answer in both movies. Now, get to writing!

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    1. Totally agree. Dwarves painted the warning already. "Silence. Dragon at Work." :D

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  4. I enjoyed The Guardians, but haven't seen The Hobbit yet. You're right that we let these fears seep into our minds, that we doubt ourselves all the time. It can't beat us if we keep going, moving forward.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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    1. I liked the Guardians so much, I might watch it a second time. Also, I must confess The Hobbit has better dwarves than I do. :)

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  5. Yes! Keep writing! The more you write, the better it will be. :)

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    1. That's what I hope. Thanks Cherie! :)

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  6. Great post and so true. We all have doubts and fears that manifest in different ways. We have to keep inspiring ourselves to overcome the obstacles we put in our OWN paths. It can be hard, because sometimes fear is an insidious thing. Lately, I haven't FELT afraid but, suddenly, I'm always "too busy" to write. And I can always find one more reason to not start querying "just yet."

    Fear of failure isn't something I want to admit but, as I was reading your article, it became impossible to lie to myself. I have been letting fear control a lot more things than I realized. Funny how willfully blind we can make ourselves. Your blog post was a huge eye opener tonight. So, you can give yourself a pat on the back, knowing you really helped someone out with what you wrote. :)

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    1. I am so glad to know this that I'll do the happy dragon dance around the cave in celebration. So let's beat that fear, Tamara! Thanks for your comment. :)

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