"So let us look for beauty and grace, for love and friendship, for that which is creative and birth-giving and soul-stretching. Let us dare to laugh at ourselves, healthy, affirmative laughter. Only when we take ourselves lightly can we take ourselves seriously, so that we are given the courage to say, “Yes! I dare disturb the universe.”
- Madeleine L'Engle, from Brain Pickings
A while back on Pinterest, I came across this post by Erica Cook of Moth Design, where she says,
"I'm not interested in competing with anyone. I hope we all make it."
I've been thinking about this a lot, maybe because my book came out recently. This morning I've been playing the Van Morrison song, Professional Jealousy, and thinking also, about how I want to be as a writer, as a creative person, really.
Last night, I read the L'Engle quotation, and this is it. I take myself pretty lightly, but I take my writing seriously. And if you're a writer, I hope you do, too. Of course we've all felt jealous of a colleague, a fellow writer, and sometimes that can spur us on to be better ourselves.
In all honesty, I haven't felt jealous in a long time. I think this is because I'm more worried about my own work. There are so many places I want to go with it, things I want to try out, I want to work on stretching my soul.
There are a lot of wonderful writers out there, artists, working hard. Most of us do what we do out of love, and don't make a ton of money from it. We get up early, or stay up late. We drive old cars, and cut our own hair. We give up a lot to be able to make these things that add a little beauty and grace to the world, or that open up difficult, arduous and tricky avenues of thought, or that inspire, or have emotional resonance.
We give up a lot, and although much of what we give up is related to material things, we give up a lot of other stuff, too. And this is probably different for each person. Many of us live in a state of nervousness that has been with us so long we hardly notice it. We are eternally trying to balance the need to make money with the need to be with our families, with the need to write, or paint, or photograph. (Inevitably, the photographing of the teacups leads me to think about balancing.....)
If you're a writer, you've given things up so you can write. If you're a writer, you dare to live in a constant state of imbalance. If you've been writing for a while, you're committed to seeking, to the depths, to the failures, to your craft, to the writing itself. And how can anyone be jealous of that? As for me:
I hope we all make it.
Let us dare.