The act of creation promises Love
Know that it is good to work. Work with love and think of liking it when you do it. It is easy and interesting. It is a privilege. There is nothing hard about it except your anxious vanity and fear of failure.
Barbara Euland, If You Want to Write
Around the time I discovered that more than a decade away from writing had been caused by a malicious phobia — a writer’s block that had disguised itself as a righteous expression of my personality — I discovered a book by Barbara Euland about writing. Her simple, elegant observations resonated. Over the past two years, the book has been a reinforcement that helps keep me focused on the positive nature of creating, warding off the deadening habits of my phobia. (It is a deep-rooted thing.)
My mother is an artist. She has worked industriously, although sometime painfully, for her entire life. I told her about the things that I had come to understand about my phobia and that I was writing again. I mentioned Euland’s book. “I’ve re-read that over and over for years,” she said. The same simple truths resonated with her.
That’s the background. As an aside, that’s a reason why I keep my identity in the background on this blog; I’m hiding from the phobia. It’s out there just waiting to stop me.
The first page of my workbook is filled with a selection of those grounding observations from Euland. This morning the quote at the top of this post caught my attention. It is connected, in an indirect way, with thoughts I’ve been trying to organize in response to a question from Scott Berkun about the idea of substance.
Anxious vanity. Such a rich and loaded phrase.
When you write, what are you looking for that is away from you? Vanity is an external expression of who you are. Are you searching for affirmation that will quiet the anxious voices?
The kind of affirmation that we seek comes from engagement with others. This engagement is part of the act of giving. We display ourself to the world with openness and trust, looking to our interaction with others to give us a feeling of place, a sense of purpose, the kindling of a connection that eases that uncertain imbalance we experience when the word “Why?” lingers asked, but unspoken.
Committing to creative work doesn’t provide externalities. The work is personal, internal, indulgent of your own private dialogue, a private act of love, a stadium of research, hypothesis, testing, all in an intensely personal voice.
You can’t be anyone else when you create. You can’t fail. You just discover.
The act of creation doesn’t promise satisfaction, but it does deliver love.