Wednesday, January 7, 2009

All That Matters Is That I'm Writing

** A version of this post originally appeared in my New Earth Chronicles blog on Friday, December 26 **

What does this Muse want of you? Why won’t it go away?
It won’t because it can’t. It can’t any more than you can ignore it.
As long as that siren sings to you, neither you nor it can rest until you answer...
~ The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write

All that matters is that I'm writing... I repeat this phrase, mantra-like, in the hours before dawn -- in the hour before my alarm goes off -- trying to drown out the fear and anxiety rattling around in my head. All that matters is that I'm writing...

Like many, these days, I find myself in the throes of financial uncertainty, not sure how I'm going to stay afloat...not sure if I'll stay afloat.

After four years of financial miracles -- miracles that got two books completed and published, miracles that allowed me to travel this country countless times, miracles that freed me to bring the gift of my voice and my words to many of you -- it has been feeling as though the well of miracles has run dry. With money seemingly running out and bills appearing unpayable, I'm now completing my fourth week as a retail stockman in a seasonal job that will likely stretch beyond the holiday season.

It's a relentlessly physical job with long hours and with a paycheck that only begins to cover my expenses at a time when more remunerative coaching, editing and speaking gigs are not showing up. And I've spent most of these past weeks more resentful than grateful, more worried than trusting, more afraid than alive.

I realized on Christmas Day, though, that the well of miracles never runs dry. It just takes on different forms for different times and different needs.

Among those miracles is the job itself, one that fell into my lap with no interview (when other applications went unacknowledged, when interviews elsewhere reaped no offers) and one that pays more to start than similar positions in town. Another is one of my co-workers, who always makes me laugh, even when all I want to do is cry. A third is my ability, surprising even to me, to manage the job's physical rigors without ill effect.

Then there are my close friends, whose combination of loving support and tough-love pep talks have kept me going through these challenging times.

One of those friends sent me an email earlier this week in which he repeatedly reminded me to "write, write, write." "It is your soul work," he wrote. "It is your gift."

I read his words and, sobbing, remembered a revelation I had last month as I was heading back toward Albuquerque after six weeks on the road. I knew that after a decade of fits and starts, it was time to complete The StarQuest, one of two projected sequels to my novel, The MoonQuest. "Regardless of what it takes and what is required of me," I remembered saying, "I commit to getting it done. It's time, and I'm ready."

That realization receded somewhat in my early days back in town, preoccupied as I was with home-hunting, job-hunting and a Thanksgiving visit from my daughter. It pushed back to the surface with my friend's email, which made me teary not only every time I reread it (which I did often) but every time I talked about it.

A few years ago, when I was still traveling and offering regular inspirational and sound-healing teleconferences, one of my talks was about passion, heart's desire and purpose. We must follow our passion and heart's desire, regardless of cost and consequence, I said at the time. More recently, in The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, I quoted Abraham Lincoln as saying, "Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way."

What I've come to realize is that it's now time for me to live those words. All of them. More fully than I ever have before.

I have to write. I have to complete The StarQuest.

Yes, my Muse demands it of me. But, more importantly, my soul demands it of me.

If I've such a powerfully emotional response to this renewed call to write, then it's a call I must answer -- regardless of cost or consequence. I cannot write, speak and teach what I write, speak and teach without honoring that soul imperative, without surrendering to this profound yearning.

I love inspiring you to follow your soul's call in all the ways I have done over the years -- through coaching (writing, life and spiritual), through sound healings and activations and through transformational art and energy portraits. As well, I love sharing my life with you through these newsletters and blog posts. And I will continue to do all these things as opportunities arise. (I'd much rather generate income from these avenues than from my current job!)

But I cannot inspire you to follow your soul's call unless I'm following my own. And I cannot follow mine if I keep worrying about how I'm going to live and what I may have to give up to do it. All I can do is do it.

If doing it means working as a stockman, then that's what I must do. If doing it means I have to move or do without, then that, too, is what must be done. Whatever it takes is whatever it takes.

Another gift of my current retail stint is the discipline it is teaching me. Not the "hard discipline" of having to write a certain amount or for a certain period each day. But the "soft discipline" of being a disciple to my writing, of recognizing that if this call is so important to me, I have no choice but to follow my own advice in The Voice of the Muse and carve out whatever time I can, recognizing that I have no greater priority in my life right now.

The rest is up to God, however you define it. There is no other way. Because, in the end, all that matters is that I'm writing.

How is your soul calling you to write?
What stories, projects and ideas sing to your heart?
What are you not writing that would satisfy the call of your muse?
How is your fear holding you back?
How are you allowing your light to be dimmed and your life to be diminished?
What are you afraid of losing?
What are you afraid of gaining?

Please share your thoughts and comments, your fears and desires, here.

• If writing is your passion and you're having a difficult time acknowledging it and/or acting on it, this guided meditation -- an audio excerpt from The Voice of the Muse Companion: Guided Meditations for Writers -- may help...

Image of The Muse by Richard Crookes from the cover of The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write (LightLines Media, 2008)

Why Aren't You Writing?

Why aren’t you writing? You don’t know what to write? It doesn’t matter.

Write anyway. Place one word, any word, on the page. A single word. That’s all it takes.

That single word, whatever it is, will launch you on a journey into your creativity and beyond your imagination.

One word. That's all it takes.

Open any book to a random page, close your eyes and point.

Write that word.

What about the next word, and the word after that? And the word after that? What about sentences and paragraphs? What about a subject?

You are the subject.

I don’t mean you will be writing about yourself -- though you might be. You are the subject and your pen is sovereign. And that pen will carry you on an extraordinary journey of discovery, if you let it...writing flowingly and freely on the Muse Stream, letting the sentences unfold without your conscious mind getting in the way.

What you will experience is freedom from your mind, freedom for your story. When you write on the Muse Stream, you throw off the shackles of logic and leap into the inkwell of the unknown -- a well within which reside all the stories you could ever want to write, all the catharsis you could ever want to experience, all the emotion you could ever want to express.

It’s so simple.

Take the first word you write and, without thinking, write another. It needn’t flow logically from the first. Perhaps it’s an association -- "chair" makes you think of “table.” What does “table” remind you of?

Don’t think about it. Let the first word that comes to you, whatever it is, be the next word you write.

It doesn’t make sense? It doesn’t have to make sense. It may be better if it doesn’t.

Just let one word trigger another and then another, until something shifts - and it will -- and the flow is undammed. From there, that flow can carry you on a current of words, images and emotions. If you let it..

Why not let it? Why not write now? Why not pick a word at random from this blog post? Why write that one word and then another, and then another. Why not keep writing for 10 minutes or 20 or 30? Why not let the words take charge, propelling you forward on a journey of discovery, wonder and awe.

~ adapted from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write (LightLines Media) (c) 2008 Mark David Gerson

Photo by Mark David Gerson: the Yellowstone River, the longest undammed river in the lower 48 states