Why do we find it so hard to change?
I read so many writers–good, decent, honest artists of talent–and instead of pushing forward, they decide to stagnate. Thankfully, none of mine, yet, but it’s a fear I have in this publishing gig. And whatever you call it–“giving up,” “selling your soul,” “folding,” “selling out”–it’s damb scary.
Some have said I fear success. I fear they’re right.
I suppose it’s understandable, isn’t it? Life is hard. For everyone. And money will always be useful. Yet even when a writer has a success now and then, it becomes so difficult to face the expectations of the audience. And the publisher will always want more of the same.
I’ve heard the stories, even seen it a few times editing for corporate publishers. So many writers’ dreams are dashed, and those who do survive have to replicate their success or be dropped. The work is always hard and never-ending.
And I have to ask, am I really okay with the business of turning out meaningful work for profit? The commerce doesn’t have to be consuming, but it is corrupting. And powerful. And when many people have helped to build your career with their advocacy and assistance, the expectations can feel like a noose.
How strong am I to ward off the distractions that have twisted so many better writers than me?
I want to say they may have been “writers” but they weren’t artists, and definitely not serious. They wanted fame and position. And yet what do I really know? Nothing. I can’t judge anyone. In the end, my only hope is in the Lord, the source of my inspiration. In the Holy Spirit, the restless wind.
And yet, that has its own set of problems, doesn’t it?
I’d like to say I embrace the wind fully, willingly, but who can embrace the wind? Just when you think you have it, it changes on you. That’s the way it is with the Inspiratio. Our logic, our familiarity, our full contentment with it is never an option.
Change is the only unchanging characteristic of the Spirit. Staying the same is not the wind’s game.
Yet even when I know it in theory and try to accept it, I still feel such fear and resistance. I’m only human, and maybe it’s human to hate change. It’s uncomfortable, uncertain, messy. I want assurance my goals and well-meaning resolutions won’t fail. And of course I resist what’s unfamiliar–I’d be leaving my happiness to chance.
Chance is a game I can’t afford to play. So I build these barriers against it and fight. If I can try to control every factor, or enough of them, I could be living the life I want, a life of comfort and success.
But always, in the back of my mind, the annoying thoughts pass through–what of meaning and substance? What of making a difference? What of learning to live out what your life was truly meant to be?
I try to ward off chance, but what I’m really doing is forgetting there’s no such thing. I decide to fight the wind and forget change, like the wind, comes whether we fight it or not.
So how do I give it up? And can I? If I was to give up my habitual resistance to change, do I honestly believe it could improve my life, in the long run?
When I think back to the most meaningful changes I’ve gone through–college, marriage, moving, becoming a father–I know none of it was chance. Even my first job and how I was prepared by my mentors, learning to prepare writers for the changes we advised, I saw that how we respond to change determines much of our success. If I could inspire my writers to embrace the changes, they could be better prepared to face what was ahead.
Preparation. Isn’t that what change is for? We can’t always know what preparation is needed, but if we believed someone did, some One who’s always changing and leaves nothing to chance, could we more willingly embrace the uncomfortable as training?
If we resist, maybe well never gain what we need for when bigger changes come. Whatever those may be.
I say it to writers all the time: we have to let ourselves be changed before our words can change anyone else. And each day I sit down to write (and rewrite and edit and refine), I have to see if I really believe it.
Maybe most of all, I have to let my addiction to the comfortable familiar–to safety, to the cleaned up and pretty consumer culture, to the idealized and the romanticized–die off so the unsafe, the dirty, the honest, and the true can become more real to me.
It’s easy to forget the struggle the world endures every day when you’re writing packaged words for the trade market.
But this may be the trade a called writer must make fresh every day.
Giving in to comfort now is not an option. I need the wind, and all its untamed challenges.
Besides, trading temporary comforts for future glory, could that ever be a sacrifice when the true profit is living in the slip and service of the mighty wind?
For the mysterious wonder of this higher purpose,