Say I was just a little bit obsessed with writing this book.
Would that be so bad?
Maybe we have to become saturated with it, like a painter or an actor, to really convince anyone it’s worth their time.
I suppose the obvious (and well-documented) problem with this is what such an obsession tends to lead to. Fact is, with writers maybe even more so that with other artists, we court a lover far too vast and consuming to be handled.
Our medium is meaning itself. Our tools are the foundational building blocks of life–consciousness, words. Without The Word spoken, the world would not have begun, and without words, it could not be sustained, let alone support meaning. We are helplessly bound up in language, inextricably wrapped around reason and rationality–it is twisted into the very emotional and spiritual fibers that form our being.
When writers seek their medium, don’t they necessarily pull at the cord sustaining their very lives?
Maybe I should take up pottery. I really don’t want to start barking.
The books all say you have to face your fears and pay attention to what’s hard. But don’t we risk our own destruction when we peel back the layers of our lives and our minds to see what we can make of them?
I don’t want to freak anyone out, but are we ignoring the fact that even famous and successful writers seem just a little more unhinged with every new successful attempt?
The fear of barking haunts, pursues me, my death and ultimate annihilation never far behind.
The crazy voice, the fear of not mattering, never escaping the intensity of this obsession, not to mention the regret over all I’ve sacrificed and the fallout in my relationships, it’s all on my mind whenever I sit down to the blank page.
This morning as I wrote, I thought how many writers sit down to produce every day, knowing they’re already a little crazy to do it–Why do we do this to ourselves?–even though we know it’s because we can’t help it. The drive pushes us on and makes us crazy.
And can we really be blamed? We only write because we have to and writers only say what they do because what else can they say? These things simply are and we write them because we’re pushed to the edge. And the only thing we can do to live is to fall forward and write the truth.
Honestly, it’s less voluntary than most would like to think.
Maybe it’s more spiritual, like prayer, a letting go of resistance to the conviction that embracing all this is–the good and bad, reasonable and unreasonable, legitimate and illegitimate–is needed to become the integrated people who can write what we must, what we were meant to. And if others don’t understand, maybe it’s because they don’t feel it pulsing and pushing through them like a fog, like the fear of dying.
Maybe they’re just afraid to feel that too.
And I wonder if maybe it’s only those who’ve embraced this fear and accepted the fallout who can experience the transcendent through the pursuit and the product of this fragile art.
The process may necessarily involve some letting go of our central cord. We pursue that release. So won’t a certain instability always follow?
“Plato spoke of the necessity for divine madness in the poet. It is a frightening thing to open oneself to this strange and dark side of the divine; it means letting go of our sane self-control, that control which gives us the illusion of safety. But safety is only an illusion, and letting it go is part of listening to the silence, and to the Spirit.” – Madeline L’Engle, Walking on Water
Letting go. I suppose this is the ultimate fear. But maybe there’s nothing behind it. And maybe if we simply refused to be afraid and instead trusted the voice, we’d find the confidence we need to remain safe. And sane.
I already know we won’t learn what we need to learn if we don’t embrace a deeper safety than rational thinking can assure. Reason and logic can’t tell us what there is beyond all we’re too afraid to leave.
Why can’t it be this simple? Why can’t the next step be merely to ask our source of strength for the courage to face that cave you still fear to enter? And then to find it surging up as you stand at the mouth and feel its drawing, its tugging at that invisible cord within.
Stretching your ability to comprehend a deeper meaning.
Maybe it’s not the voice of a monster coaxing you at all but something much more wonderful. And maybe he knows you need to let go of all you think you need to know or you’ll remain unchanged and untransformed….
Give that prayer a try today and let me know how it goes.
God be with you in your going, and in your coming to know the source of this call, out there where obsession mingles with the Refining Fire and is known and experienced only as purity.
For the higher purpose,