Sunday, April 22, 2012

Desperately Wanting


“You can’t, in most things, get what you want if you want it too desperately: anyway, you can’t get the best out of it. ‘Now! Let’s have a real good talk’ reduces everyone to silence. ‘I must get a good sleep tonight’ ushers in hours of wakefulness. Delicious drinks are wasted on a really ravenous thirst.” Although in this passage from A Grief Observed C.S. Lewis is referring to his frantic need for God upon the death of his wife,  I've seen this truth played out in many circumstances in my own life over the years.

Take writing for instance. I write because I love it - the exhilaration of putting words down on the page, of finding the precise words to build the particular sentences that create the exact story that’s been growing inside of me, and then releasing those stories out into the world where they are read. There’s no doubt about it, as writers, having our work published, attaining that connection with readers, is a desirable part of the process. It’s when we want publication too desperately that we can lose perspective and forget that publication is only a part of the process. If we fixate only on that one aspect, then we become “like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs.” - C.S. Lewis

It's one of those perspective things that I have to relearn every so often: a can't see the forest through the trees thing that reminds me not to lose sight of the big picture.
And maybe, like so many other things in life, it’s in the letting go that we are finally able to find what we are looking for. 



Do you ever let the goal overshadow the process?

59 comments:

  1. Fantastic post Ruth! Thanks for sharing :)

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  2. What a wonderful post, Ruth. Lewis is such an inspiration to me -- I loved Surprised by Joy. I have to remind myself on a periodic basic that it is the writing and the raising of children that is important. Thank you.

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    1. I'll have to add Surprised by Joy to my list. Thanks =)

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  3. The idea of 'Letting go' has been on my mind lately. :) Desperately seeking fame will take away the pleasure of art creation. I'm always reminded by Ray Bradbury's advice that Money and Fame will eventually come. Just concentrate on writing. Don't think about the rest. Luckily for me, I like looking at the trees, and don't try to search for the forest through them. THanks for sharing on the C.S. Lewis book and the video. The song was nice!

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    1. Glad you liked the song. This is one I was "stuck" on a year or so ago.

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  4. My great aunt, whom I often quote, would say, "Now let's all go watch Wild Kingdom." Of course, we'd all scatter. Was she using reverse psychology on us dimwits?

    Your point is well taken. I often get uptight because I seem not to be making progress with writing. I'm not getting any younger, and yet my worrying about what I will accomplish doesn't get me any closer to that accomplishment. It just kills the joy along the way.

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    1. Oh, that's too funny, Sara. I remember Wild Kingdom. I didn't much care for it as a kid either. Although I'd probably love it now ;)

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  5. Nice post! When I was younger and less familiar with the workings of the publishing industry, I was more impatient. But now that I'm older, I have learned to respect the writing process much more and to just enjoy the journey.

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    1. Funny thing about patience is that just when you think you've got it, a bout of impatience flares up and reminds you it's not something easily mastered.

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  6. Oh, how I used to! I've made an effort to be better about this, though. I take time to enjoy the journey.

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  7. *Oh, yes. I'm in one of those periods right now. I'm watching things happen around me, obsessing about other people's successes, and it's stifling my writing. It's really hard to work through those feelings, but I'll do it.

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    1. I feel for you, Dawn. It is hard once the obsessing begins. But you will find your way through. Good luck!

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  8. I'm with you 100%. The joy in writing needs to come from the journey. Publication is a plus, but not where our focus should be. Think of all the great writers and artists who died before a single work was published or recognized -like Emily Dickinson or Vincent VanGogh. Just think what a loss it would be for us, if they had stopped following their passion just because they hadn't yet achieved recognition. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Great point, Laura! Thanks so much for sharing =)

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  9. This is so true. "Do I ever let the goal overshadow the process?" All the time! But it's posts like this that remind me to right my frame of mind!

    BTW, great Lewis quote!

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    1. Glad this one resonated with you, Anne. And thanks for stopping by.

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  10. Yes, I think there are times when I have to remind myself that most days I am doing exactly what I pictured--Writing!! Just because I haven't crossed that finished line, doesn't mean I'm not living the way I imagined :)

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  11. Yes, there are many times when I get so caught up in marketing my work, I forget how much fun it is to write. I'm back to blogging after a three-week hiatus with some perspective and incorporating the fun part every day. Hope it lasts. :)

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  12. Such a great point! It is SO EASY to let those things overshadow. I do it all the time. In some ways, that's good-- because then I keep my eye on the goal. But when it comes to drafting, it's hard to reverse that thinking. Because that's an area where the process matters way more than the goal!

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    1. You make a good point. We have to be able to keep our eye on the goal without letting it become our sole focus. Thanks for commenting.

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  13. I like your insight about "letting go." I have learned to try and let life unfold before me, rather than forcing doors open. Thanks for the great post, Ruth!

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    1. Thanks for chiming in, Victoria. Love the picture of life unfolding vs. forcing doors. =)

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  14. Sadly I still tend to do a bit of "forcing" now and then, but I always have to go back and fix it later. I need to learn patience and flow and let the journey unfold as it will. One of these days I will learn the lesson. For now, nope. Still struggling.

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    1. It sure is easy to fall back into those old patterns.

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  15. Another great post. I have had to learn patience, otherwise I blok. Better to go with the flow when I'm inspired. If I push you can tell. Enjoyed the discussion.

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  16. I can always feel a negative nudge when I start to drift away from the bliss of losing myself in my stories. I try and separate "business time" from "creative time" so my mind can focus on the needs of both.

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  17. This is such a great post! I really like your writing.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  18. A Grief Observed is a book that has carried me through a lot. Lovely to see it mentioned here.
    C. S. Lewis referred to his faith before loss as ‘a house of cards.’ I sort of see a lot of my past perceptions this way. The process of repeat rebuilding after collapse is life.

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    1. Thanks for sharing the house of cards analogy, Mirka. That's one that will stay with me.

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  19. I'm sure I do at times when I work so hard at building my platform, and not enough time reading and writing! Also, sometimes my family is ignored because of it...

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    1. Ahhhh, we all search for the elusive "balance." Good luck with finding yours!

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  20. So amazing that you're writing about this topic - I've just started reading Imagine by Jonah Lehrer and he addresses the same thing - about having to let go, or give in to the frustration and essentially give up before you can succeed. It all goes together...!

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    1. Thanks for mentioning this title. I'm going to look it up.

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  21. Boy, I struggled with goal vs. process for years. I was so sure my first manuscript would sell, and so defeated when it didn't. Repeat for the second, third and fourth manuscripts. It took over six years and five manuscripts before I got an offer. If there weren't joy in the writing, I never could've endured the getting-published part.

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing this, Jeanne. I find it so encouraging. Glad you didn't give up! =D

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  22. When I began writing my goals overshadowed the process. It took me years to truly relish the process.

    I love Better Than Ezra.

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  23. You sure hit the nail on the head for me right now. I have been so anxious to get another book published that I think I've lost focus! Thanks for this post. I truly needed to hear all of this. It's time for me to let go and just write because I love it!

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    1. So glad this resonated with you Allyn. Now go get lost in the writing =)

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  24. Great post! I think it's crucial to not focus on the goal of publication too desperately. I've seen this happen with a couple writer friends and they did lose perspective. The writing of the best possible story was no longer the focus. When I sense my own sense of perspective going off track, I do whatever I can to realign.

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  25. I've been guilty of that. Hmm. Just yesterday I believe.

    But I find that if I take a break, go out for a hike or some garden time, my path becomes clear again. I like to take my time when I'm writing and if I do I find that reaching the far off goal becomes less important. The story takes over and I can give my full attention to it.

    Thought-provoking post. I appreciated it.

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  26. I think I need to relearn this way too often. And... I think I needed this today. Thanks for the reminder. This is great. :)

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  27. That's an awesome quote by C.S. Lewis. It's easy to lose focus, isn't it? I need to constantly remind myself that the journey is as important as the end goal. And it's good for us to hear this same message over and over again in different ways and in different voices, so thank you, Ruth!

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  28. Love, love that quote! And love, love this post! When I started writing, publication was on my mind every day. Now that I have one thing published I realize it will happen. I tell myself not to focus so much on it. It's all about the ride! (((hugs))) Thanks for this post.

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  29. What an awesome quote... I need to remember this sometimes when it comes to waiting on publisher feedback and moving on with my next project:)

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  30. Why is it that even though I have heard this advise more than once, and I have suggested to others to "just write", I myself get stuck in a non-productive mode? I let other things take the place of writing, and I have found myself thinking about who would be interested in my stories more than how can I make them all they can be.
    Without a sound foundation the house will fall. I have much to do.
    Thanks for this post, Ruth.

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  31. I've bounced back and forth. Began by loving the process, jumped ahead to the goal, went back to the process, and back and forth. I think it's almost getting harder now, with all the promotion and stuff online we're supposed to do, NOT to obsess on publication and success. But it makes it all the more delicious to turn that stuff off and it's just you and the story again.

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  32. have an interesting space, a great pleasure to read you.
    if you like the poetry I invite you to my space.
    happy day.
    a greeting.

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  33. We let our children move out and go on their own because of our desire to see them grow up and be self sufficient.

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  35. Agree. Desperation comes from feeling like we have nothing, and in some cases like we are worth nothing. It takes practice to accept where we are and have faith that we can make something good from right here. But it is the way of peace.

    Great post R!

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