How to Be Determined

Jun 8, 2014

I’m writing. Something like 600 to 1,000 words a day. I’m spending each morning lashed to the mast of listening – what is this story that wants to be told? Alternating between shaping and spewing. Mostly trusting. Lots of spewing.

Here is a fragment:

“I used to have a story that I loved change, that letting go and flinging myself into the unknown future came to be as easy as my giggle. I would cock my head at friends’ stories of staying in relationships that drained them, in apartments they dreaded coming home to, in jobs that made them feel like one big paper cut, and I’d wrinkle my brow. I would honestly, invariably, ask, “But why? Why do you stay?”

I would like to formally apologize to each and everyone one of you. I do have an excuse.

I was young. And, for no good reason, a little cocky.

I was young and cocky, true, and it has lately dawned on me, maybe that wasn’t all. I’ve started to wonder if I knew something back then that wasn’t only callow youth. A piece of knowing I was born with. Maybe you were born with it, too. A knowing I’ve been trying to relearn, to find in the years since my dad’s death and my divorce, and it occurs to me, maybe even earlier than that. Maybe starting twelve years or even fifteen years ago, if I’m honest. It’s a knowing that has something to do with being able to let go, to shed what’s outmoded, to burn down the barns that now imprison, like the haiku a friend sent me, “Barn burned down/ now I can see the moon.”

I am writing. I am determined. And I am holding the determination lightly. My work is not me. The outcome doesn’t define or determine anything. No struggle, only focus.

In the past, my determination has become a lock-jawed make-it-happen-or-else prison. These days, if I find myself believing that old story, I relax. Hug a doodle, touch my basic goodness, my hand on  my heart. Head to the fir-fragrant forest. Keep listening.

Focus, not struggle. Determination, not identity. This is where I am living. It’s good.

How about you? What – and how – are you holding and shaping your creative vision these days?



Jettison Self-Doubt and Lose the Itty-Bitty-Shitty Committee and Make Your Thing Now

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