Saturday, August 28, 2010

Personal Perspective: Purity of Intention

Last week in The Prosperous Writer, Christina Katz wrote about purity of intention. I confess that I was going to let this writing prompt slip by. I told myself I was too busy. I told myself I was too tired from being sick and taking care of a sick toddler. I told myself it’s gelato season, and I just have to realize I don’t have as much time to write right now. Then I realized I was actually scared.

I realized that not because of what Christina Katz wrote (insightful as it was), but because of a blog response by T. L. Cooper on her blog, Write with TLC.

I’d like you to follow that link and read the whole post. In case you don’t, though, here’s a snippet that grabbed me.

As I begin to look at where I spend my time and energy, I feel a little disappointed in myself. Over the years I’ve taken on more and more responsibility because I feel like I have to. I feel like it’s expected of me. I feel like I “owe” it to other people. I agree to help friends and acquaintances even when it interferes with my goals. I agree to take on one more chore or run one more errand to make my husband’s life easier. I agree to add one more thing to my day because “it’ll only take 5 minutes.”

I don’t know if this is a common human malady…or common to women…or common to wives and mothers. Whatever the case, the desire to please other people has always driven far more of my actions than it should. The result is that I am in constant motion yet rarely feel I’ve gained anything in my struggle to be a writer.

After reading Christina’s post earlier this week, I pulled out my submission tracking sheet and took a look at it. The kick to my gut was that I haven’t actually submitted anything since June. WHAT!?!? JUNE?!?! When, how, why did that happen? I know I’ve been doing. In fairness to myself, I’ve been churning out marketing materials for clients. That was never where I wanted to focus, though. So, again, what happened?

The problem is that my purity of intention has slipped…a lot.

Cooper also talks about spending too much time with people who drain her creativity. I meet--and live with--far more creativity suckers than creativity boosters. Personally, my father has always been a creativity-sucker of nearly mythic proportions. Living under the same roof with him, even as a 32-year-old wife and mother, establishes a constant dampening effect on both my energy and creativity. (After all, wouldn’t enough “get a real job” hints get to anyone after a while?)

Okay, so I mentioned that I was scared to tackle this subject. Yes, just plain chicken-livered. That's because, deep down, I realized I'd lost my purity of intention. I just didn't want to admit it to myself. We usually have to face our fears in order to deal with them, though. That's true whether you have a a fear of spiders or a lack of purity!

I don’t know what to do about creativity-sucking relations. I do now realize that I need to dig out and refocus my own intentions and purify them until they’re crystal clear and sparkly-clean. If I want to be a marketing copywriter, my energy goes there. If I want to own a gelato business, I need to focus on that. If I want to write articles, that’s what I need to do. If I want to write novels, I need to spend time with my plot and characters. Will one help with the other? Maybe. If not, out it needs to go. Easier to say than do, of course. A fact, nonetheless.

At this point, I’m so mired in non-writing obligations and commitments, I can’t even see my way clear to get shed of them. With some work and clarity and prayer, though, I may have an answer soon.

I’ll keep you posted.


Christina Katz said...

I've been in the same boat, Andrea. Give it time, you will work it out. Thanks for sharing. Very good work. :)

T. L. Cooper said...

First, thank you from the bottom of my writer's soul for the mention of my blog. I feel honored to have touched you enough to help you to face your own dilemma with purity of intention.
Second, wow! Beautifully put.
Third, I wish you the best of luck reconnecting with your purity of intention. Know there are those of us out here cheering for your success!

robin said...

Great Post! Really hit home.

Darrell Laurant said...

Have you tried blocking off a chunk of time (perhaps a weekend) and walling off everything that intrudes into your writing? Perhaps it could be connected with your birthday, or some other notable occasion.

Maybe you know a place you can go where all the little nagging responsibilities can't find you, at least for a little while.

Serious writing requires forward momentum, and "real life" often makes it hard to get traction.

I heard a Paul Simon song the other day that seems, somehow, to speak to this. He wrote: "And when they tell you you're not good enough/well,the answer is, you're not/but who are they, and what is this, that eats at what you've got?"