Last week has been hard to handle– full of yeses. Yes, we’d like to print this, and yes, we’d like to print that, too. I feel like someone just sent me to the best table in the restaurant, and I need to remind them I am the OTHER Schurman party, the one who has no reservation, and sits at the bar because she can only afford an appetizer and a glass of wine.
How you think about your work, whatever you make, is what can keep you sane and productive. Rejection scares me. What if I’m no good, and I never get published? Acceptance scares me, too. What if it’s out there, looking dumb, and people hate it– or worse, don’t notice it at all?
Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron taught me how to think about my work. I read all their books, and I did everything they said. If that sounds fanatical– maybe it was. Goldberg said everyday life is precious, and the honest, crude, raw details have energy. Cameron said that your work is flowing through you, from God to the page, and you just need to get out of the way. In some ways, they seem to be opposite philosophies. One is a Buddhist, and one a recovering Catholic. I have needed both, for different days and different situations. One was egocentric, one was egoless, but they both got you to the same place, where you could put things down. You can navel-gaze to see how huge your life really is, or you can spread out and explore to realize who you were all along.
Both of them had a passion for Beauty and Truth. That’s what you wanted, anyway, when you started making stuff. You wanted to slap Beauty around and shake the crap out of Truth. You didn’t want to get everyone to love you (they don’t even know you!). You didn’t want to feel like God creating the world every single minute (exhausting, lonely). You wanted to make stuff because you loved the stuff people made for you. Maybe even because it’s fun.
I know you can have fun at the bar– the banished and rejected moan together and fantasize about future success. I hope you can also have fun at the best table. Apparently there’s food and wine everywhere in the restaurant, and I don’t mind dressing up a little more.