Monday, August 13, 2007

What the world needs now...

I believe this is the second time I've blogged about Cary Tennis' advice column. What can I say, he writes about artists a lot in an eloquent way. Today's question is from a visual artist who is finding it hard to deal with rejections. Cary's response is long, but here are some of my favorite parts, with some personal comments.

"I have experienced literature that opened the skies for me, that made the earth tremble, that proved the existence of a world right alongside ours, so far superior to ours..... Every time I write I think I am required to make the skies open. I think I have to make the earth tremble. I think I have to reveal the existence of a dazzling universe quietly superseding our own, right next to us in another dimension.... So naturally I fail every day."

I went to a meditation class last night, and one of the themes, if you will, was forgiving yourself. Every time your mind wandered from your breath, you were supposed to say to yourself, "I forgive you." It was so amazingly nurturing to say that to myself about 100 times. That's what this part of Cary's column reminded me of.

This part about finding a supportive group of fellow writers also hit home. I feel so blessed to have found and continue finding other like-minded writers:

"You need constant encouragement and reinforcement in order to keep going. It's not even about feeling good so much. It's just about keeping going. I began to think about athletes....A batter gets a hit maybe every four or five at bats. So that's pretty tough. How would an athlete deal with all that rejection? In sports there is rejection and pain. But there is also joy and encouragement. There are coaches. There are teammates.

Those of us who work alone trying to make the heavens open up and the earth tremble, we need regular encouragement. We need coaches to say, Hey, good game. We need hand slaps and high-fives. Without support we will stop sending out our work."

And lastly, I will point to the part in his column where he explains just why it is that people need positive reinforcement just as much as constructive critism:

"Others have been hard on me as well, and I have sort of invited that. I have said, That's OK, give it to me straight, I can take it. Actually, I couldn't take it. But I would say I could. I believed in the interest of telling it like it is that everybody had to be hard on everybody else and on themselves. That would ensure that we were all aesthetically honest and pure.

Well, so now I am thinking, what good does that do if we become so embittered and afraid of rejection that we can't continue our work? I think what we need is more acceptance and more love.

Well said, Cary! (Click here to read the whole article.) Best Blogger Tips


TI said...

Bug, I have to thank you for posting this since today I feel like my work is shallow and superficial and pointless and what could I possibly have to say anyway and why would anyone want to publish my writing and... NOt the most motivating place to be! So thank you because I'm going to try this meditation every morning this week.

Repeater said...

Yes, so nice to read that. I'm doing okay mentally today, but starting to feel like I'll never actually get something published, let alone finish something I feel good about. But I'm reading From Where You Dream today-- it's helping. And it's so good we're here to support each other. Hang in there ti.

January said...

Thanks. I needed this tonight, especially the part about not waiting for the skies to open every time I write.

And now I must look up Cary Tennis' column.

DJPare said...

I love ya, CJ...

And you are one of the leaders of a handful of people I've met in recent years who give me the support needed to continue writing!

Bug said...

What wonderful comments. Thank you everyone!

Kiyotoe said...

Writing is soooooooo subjective. Different work means different things to different people for different reasons.

As discouraging as this writing "game" can be sometimes, I try to always keep in mind that no matter how many rejections or bad reviews I receive, that my words will hit home for someone somewhere.

It's just a matter of making that connection to that person.

Great post.