I usually think of summer as the laid back season, but not this year. The last few weeks have been a blur of major construction projects around the home, remedial training for our two rescue dogs, and unwanted interuptions such as the seeming immanent failure of Mary’s hard drive. There hasn’t been a lot of time for quiet reflection, so I was all the more surprised and grateful when the good people at WordPress chose a recent post of mine to be Freshly Pressed: https://thefirstgates.com/2011/06/27/a-year-of-blogging/. I appreciate everyone who stopped by to look and those who left a comment. I spent some wonderful hours reading and responding to comments and looking at blogs I had never seen before.
The comments that moved me most came from other bloggers, some just starting out, who said they found encouragement in what I had written. No feedback I have ever gotten for writing means more to me than that. A few said they were dipping their toes in the water, afraid their writing wasn’t good enough. I think every writer feels like that on occasion. Here is what T.S. Eliot, my favorite 20th century poet, had to say on the matter:
So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty-years –
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres –
Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it.
But Eliot doesn’t stop there, and neither should we. He goes on to say, For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business. Elsewhere he said, Take no thought for the harvest, but only for the proper sowing.
At 18, in my first semester of college, I saw a phrase that has never left me: the invocation at the start of Homer’s Odyssey: Sing in me muse, and through me tell the story… I remember and sometimes use that phrase because it reminds me that the ego, the small self of “me” and “mine” that worries about results is not the self that can bring them about.
Does anyone else find there is something impersonal about creativity? It feels very much as if a muse or spirit of inspiration is there to take over the keyboard, if I can just get “me” out of the chair. Carl Jung said it another way: “I realized my thoughts were not really my own, but were more like animals I encountered on a walk through the forest.”
One summer when I did some freewriting every day I made a startling discovery – if I allow myself to be lousy, I seldom am. This doesn’t mean there won’t be editing afterward if I find that one of my seed ideas is worth expanding. It just means that while I am writing, everything goes better if I’m not looking over my own shoulder.
Several people who commented here said the same thing – their blogging took off when they realized they didn’t need to be perfect. Thanks again to everyone who stopped by to encourage my imperfect progress!