Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Apply Constant Pressure

A month or so ago, I got into a discussion with some folks about stress dreams. Well, less of a discussion and more of a sharing of anecdotes about stress dreams. Which ones folks had most frequently, how they changed over time, ways in which we dealt with them (and the stress that triggered them).

I mentioned that although I had the very common "get to school and discover there is a class I didn't know about and today is the final test" dream when I was younger, it wasn't until I reached college and was actually in a school environment that I began to find it actually a stressful dream. (Thank you twelve years of being schooled at home for making that dream funny the first few times I had it.)

Then I mentioned that more recently my stress dreams usually resolve with me pounding on whatever (or whoever) is causing the stress in the dream until it yields and is no longer stressful.

One of the other folks said they couldn't imagine being violent enough to hit something or someone else. Even in a dream.

That made me chuckle a little. Not that someone else would respond differently than myself - that is rarely a surprise.

I chuckled, because the propensity to beat my annoyances in the dream world into submission says a lot about my personality. I do not easily yield. (And yes, this is both a strength and a flaw.)

Writing is frequently a very solitary pursuit. It requires time and thought and research and a certain amount of opening veins (figuratively) and bleeding (figuratively) on the page. Having friends and family that encourage and support you in this seemingly simple endeavor is crucial, but at the end of the day no one can write your book except for you.

And that is daunting. Because the only real and solid credential for a writer is that they have written something.

A short story.
A poem.
An article.
A novel.

Words on the page, beginning to end. A writer is someone who writes. And that is a thing that sounds easy, but for most of us never is.

There's always another hurdle.
The thing that we wrote? Not really meaningful until it's published. (Because we tell ourselves publication is validation.)
The thing that was published? Not really successful until we're paid for it. (Because we tell ourselves compensation is validation.)
That thing we were paid for? Not really anything more than a hobby until we can quit the day job and live off our creative work. (Because we tell ourselves that recognition is validation.)

There's always another hurdle, another step, another goal, another writer who has done more or better than you have.

Writing is the stress dream to beat all stress dreams. But it's not a thing you wake up from. This is the real life version with film at eleven and a viral media tail that leaves folks saying "I couldn't make this shit up."

I have found success in some measure by using both fists (figuratively) to beat the shit (figuratively) out of the obstacles in my path.

Chris Pratt went viral with an Instagram post a few months back in which he talked about doing the things he loved and pursuing his dreams. He concludes with "Apply constant pressure for as long as it takes. It will break before you do. Go get it."

It's easy to only see the obstacles and think "I'm not strong enough or bold enough or aggressive enough to break those down."

I used to wake up in a panic after dreaming I was back at work with the asshole boss from hell. Until one night I realized I had nothing to lose by trying to beat them into submission because it was all in my head. And sure enough, when faced with the constant pressure of my (dreamworld) fists, they yielded. Sometimes they come back. My fists are still here; they still yield.

You have nothing to lose by pursuing your desire to write. If you want publication, pursue it. If you want recognition, pursue it. But don't let the things you want (publication, validation, recognition, and sweet, sweet cash) keep you from the thing that you need (to open those veins and bleed on the page).

Apply constant pressure. The obstacles are all in your head.

1 comment:

Arisia said...

Interesting. Thanks.