Upon the blog of one Havi Brooks.
Mostly I just lurk in the shadows...
soaking up the creative encouragement
that oozes out of every word,
reveling in the deliciousness of her working vocabulary
(words like destuckification, biggification, gwish...),
rejoicing in the Aha! moments her blog inevitably leads me to.
Ok, so maybe not a perfect ode... I'm out of practice. But I wanted to tell you all, anyone who reads what I write here, about how great this blog is for finding the encouragement to power through a project, the courage to face your monsters, and the comfort of knowing that you're not the only person who has ever hit the wall you're currently trying to recover from slamming into. Seriously... I have been marking the days in "ducks"... her little sidekick is a rubber duck, who is the icon on the tab next to the title of the current post... and the number of ducks on my tabs = the amount of encouragement I may or may not need from those posts!
"What brought on this sudden gush?" you ask. Well, like I said, I've been lurking on and off around her site for months... and then yesterday, I read the post "Avoidance! Oh, and getting out of it." And I cried... because here she was, telling me that the guilt, pain, and pressure I've been living under (my own little heavy rock)... the one that says that because I can and will do anything I can to avoid writing must mean I am not supposed to do it... that it's normal! What?!!
"There is a perfectly good reason to avoid the thing that means everything to you — whether it is your art, your writing, your secret mission, your own heart, or whatever.
In fact, avoidance of the thing which has meaning and power for you is the most understandable and normal thing I can think of.
Here is this thing — ohmygod the thing! — that has incalculable symbolic weight for you.
You’re avoiding the thing that’s holding all your dreams? Good grief! Of course you are! That symbolic weight? It’s that much potential for hurt and disappointment."
Wow... and here I'd been telling myself I must not care about it at all... and pulverizing myself into dust for not being more committed, more passionate, more motivated... to which she says:
"If you weren’t avoiding it on some level, I’d be worried about you. If you could do the thing easily and painlessly, without having to spend years and years working on your stuff to get there… I’d probably assume that it didn’t mean everything to you.
It’s not this: “Even though I thought this meant everything to me, I’m still avoiding it so clearly I don’t really care about it.”
It’s this: “Wow, this means everything to me… so of course I’m avoiding it.”
Where things get complicated and tangled.
Where it hurts.
Where it gets tangled up is exactly here. The stuck happens inside of the resistance that you place around the question.
Instead of recognizing your pain, you start to question yourself and your commitment.
Instead of treating your avoidance as a natural sign that this thing is so powerful and so important for you that of course you’re going to run away from it, you give this avoidance the power of truth.
You start to think that if you cared about your dream you’d invest in it, when the truth is that when we really care about our dreams we run away from them in panic and terror.
Until we recognize just how legitimate our fear really is.
Because avoidance is fear’s favorite thing to wear."
This is the point at which I started to cry... because she must be talking directly to ME!!! And yep... it hurts and it's more than a little bit scary... the process of recognition, of facing and defeating your (my) fears.
So here's the thing... my whole life I've been worrying that I need to do things right, better... and that for the most part I've been doing things wrong, otherwise my life would look differently than it does (i.e. I'd be successful... never be depressed... etc...) ... and I've been paralyzed by the inability to allow myself to break things or make messes... because one wrong move could mean disaster (i.e. everyone will see that I've made a mistake).
With writing, this is terrible because... the whole point of the process is that your first drafts (yes, there will be multiple) are not supposed to be perfect, but that every successive draft will get better! Except that I haven't been able to get past the first draft... because it's not already perfect... and because I've been so afraid that I'll fail miserably at being a writer of fiction... afraid that I may already HAVE failed at it... I have been fleeing this project... in earnest for the past year, but really since its conception way back when I was in high school.
And all this time... I've been saying that I must not really care... when in fact it's been one of the deepest desires of my heart. How did she KNOW?
Havi doesn't always have all the answers... let's be honest, if she did we'd all need to camp outside her house and accost her for words of wisdom every time she left to take a walk... and I don't think she'd like that AT ALL... but Havi's blog DOES have a wonderful box of creative tools for working OUT the answers for yourself (myself)... including:
"Some of the “useful questions” that I’ve been working with:
What if I’m allowed to be scared of the things that are meaningful and important to me?
What if there’s an easier way of doing things?
What do I need?
What will help me feel safe and supported?"
Thanks to Havi, now I've recognized that avoidance for what it really IS! And it's not magically better, but at least I make more sense to myself now... and can stop with the pulverizing... until the next time I need to be reminded that avoidance is normal... For now it's enough to remind myself that the things I thought I cared about really are the things I care about! I can stop doubting myself and get down to the business of being me... and facing and defeating my fears. (oh, and writing that novel :))