Two of the profs I share an office with on Monday and Wednesday are also writers. One’s a young poet with a first book almost completed and the other’s maybe about my age. She’s writing a novel, too. We were talking the other day about why we would do such a thing as write when it’s so difficult to find the time, and almost impossible to be well published. We agreed it was a compulsion, not a choice.
I’ve always wondered if writing is a sign of a mental problem–for me specifically, not for other writers. I mean, really, why would I want to do something for which I am routinely rejected? And for so long? I’ve been writing for 40 years. Trying to publish a novel for 30 years. Well, off and on, between kids and marriages and degrees and teaching jobs, but still. Why haven’t I given up?
Any sane person would have let it go by now. At least that’s what I tend to believe in my bleaker moments. And then this morning I came across a passage in Thoughts Without a Thinker. Turns out that any kind of creative act helps us transcend mere ego. Channeling emotion into art helps us to “evoke a state of being in which self-consciousness is temporarily relinquished.”
Creative types, says Buddhist and M.D. Mark Epstein, routinely “dissolve into the act of creation.” Since Epstein is a psychiatrist, I think what he’s saying here is that I’m not crazy. When I’m writing, I’m actually doing something worthwhile. For my soul, if not my wallet.
I’m sure you’re not crazy. I’m sure you’re dedicated. Infact I wish I could be nearly as dedicated. I tend to get discouraged a lot and stop.
I know what that feels like. I feel that way when I am a student, studying and learning with others. I would be a full-time student but that doesn’t pay well either.
I would much rather be a student than a teacher, Sharon. I love learning!
John, you do so many creative things, your videos, painting,and writing. It’s all good.