Is writing an identity or a way of life? aka Can you trust the process?

Getting off the phone with a friend, I’m filled with a desire and a need to digest, to try to parse out the revelations evolving within my being.

We talked about writing, mostly. Because he’s a writer, and I don’t know many writers, especially more established ones, and I was curious to get his insight.

I shared with him what I’d shared with a partner of mine recently — the fear that trying to “make it” as a writer, to try to monetize my passion, will ultimately kill it for me.

I’ve now come to an understanding that feels more clear to me, more accurate than the fear of killing my passion: I don’t yet know who I am as a writer.

Trying to put myself out there to get paid to write feels preemptive. I have been writing with more seriousness for half a decade now, and yet I still feel so young in it. I imagine this is in part because of a lack of consistency, an inclination to ebb in and out of it depending on how confident and inspired I’m feeling.

What I’m realizing with more clarity now is that I’m still in the phase of figuring it out, of figuring me out. I am not yet ready to present myself to the world in some sort of clear, defined way and to then demand to be reimbursed for it.

This friend and I discussed the type writing I currently feel inspired to create, which is nonfiction. But in sharing this, in saying it, I already felt like I was limiting myself. Because that’s merely the writing that I’m currently attracted to. Previously, it was political commentary and then personal essays and now it’s something along the lines of this blogging reflective self-help. Over 10 years ago it was screenwriting. 6 months ago I was called to write poetry.

I think I find the desire to pigeon hole, to define clearly and succinctly the type of writing that feels true to me feels antithetical to what the muse wants from me. I have this sense that the reason I am writing so much personal stuff is because I need to get it out of my system, to clear me out for what comes next.

I didn’t have much interest in declaring myself a nonfiction writer, because it doesn’t feel true. Or at least it doesn’t feel like the full picture. I am a nonfiction writer for now. And eventually maybe I’ll write a play, a poem, a fiction piece, a short story, a novel. Or heck, maybe I’ll pivot to a totally different creative medium.

What I feel called to do is to trust the muse and to follow where she takes me. To believe that whatever I feel called to do now is simply that. And what comes next is not yet determined.

In creative endeavors, it’s hard to resist the urge to label, to brand, to define, because that’s what makes you marketable, palatable, digestible to the public. And for many, they are doing this to make money, so you have to in some way adapt to becoming sell-able.

I think my fear of trying to monetize this passion of mine is because it’s too ambiguous still. Submit to places, sure, why not. But presenting myself as ready to be consumed and digested by the world is a different story.

The muse is telling me I’m too foggy, too distorted by all the internal clouds that have been weighing me down. I am not yet a vessel to be poured into. I am a snarled mess to be slowly untangled through each of these reflective pieces.

And maybe this will always be how it is, maybe self-reflective pieces are my calling. Or maybe they are simply a stop on the journey. Or maybe they’re a familiar pit stop I’ll revisit time and again.

I think of Julia Cameron and Elizabeth Gilbert, two women who have taught me much about creativity, and the ways in which they have crossed genres, answering the call of whatever is beckoning to them.

It is not for me to define what the muse wants me to be. It is simply on me to follow, to feel the inspiration rise up in my chest and to then seek an outlet for it.

I do not need to commodify myself and my creative outputs. And I can free myself of the need to monetize them, at least for now. And this freedom creates space for me to grow, develop. To find myself, my voice. To clear myself out so that that which is next can seed and take root.

What I crave is clarity, right here and now. Clarity around what I’m supposed to do, how I’m supposed to do it, how I’m supposed to make this all work.

And despite the fact that it’s not what I want to hear, I have an answer: keep writing, keep trying, keep digging, keep releasing. It is taking me somewhere, even if the the destination remains unclear, blurry, and completely out of focus. It is the call to trust.

I have a conflicted opinion on trust and spirituality. I move between being a deep believer and a total skeptic. I lose the thread often, eventually picking it back up, dusting it off, and recommitting to the process.

The process is what’s it’s all about anyway, right? Not needing to proving myself or morph myself into being the kind of writer I think is cool or more legit. It’s allowing myself to be unfurled by these creative endeavors. To trust that whatever the outcome, it will lead me to a truer version of myself.

I often struggle with things not feeling and looking like how I’d like them to. I guess it’s not shocking that writing and creativity are similar. They aren’t to be controlled by me, to be neatly defined by my logical brain. They are to be explored, engaged with, made love to (I know, it’s cringe — don’t judge me). Like any good relationship, it seems to work best when I begin with acceptance of what is instead of what I wish it was. And in that acceptance, I can begin building, working, allowing it to unfold before me.

And I don’t know, I guess you could say all magic is some combination of dedication and inspiration, allowing the outcome to be more than simply the sum of its parts.

Good luck out there.

❤ ❤ ❤

Is “making it” a choice?

I had a conversation with a beloved yesterday that prompted me to reflect on dreaming, pursuing one’s dreams, and trying to monetize passions.

In trying to share my perspective on the matter, I gave my beloved the impression that I was making the point that monetizing your passion will always ruin it. Woof, what a Scrooge I felt like to have that reflected back to me.

Instead of trying to deter anyone from making money doing what they love, I was trying to complicate the narrative. And I was mostly speaking to my personal situation — I love writing, but the idea of trying to live off of it would require sacrifices that could threaten my passion for it. Mostly in the form of having to come up with and pitch ideas of articles that I think would be conventionally successful, would please a broad audience.

And the reality is that I want to write about what I want to write about. And dear Universe, if you want to pay me to do so, I will happily comply. I’m also not against trying to pitch stories to publications that feel aligned with me. But there’s a pressure that comes with trying to support yourself off of your passion, trying to make it fit into the system that’s writing your checks.

More so, I was trying to make the point that many people do not pursue or invest in their passions if they don’t believe they’ll achieve conventional success from them. I was trying to speak against measuring the outcome of doing something that brings you joy through the lens of how much money you make, how many clicks you get, how many accolades you acquire.

I was trying to contextualize the American desire of striving to be the exception as often chasing your own tail — it’s a distraction from why it is that you do what you love.

I also want to clarify that I’m not inherently against someone trying. Because anyone who can play the game and hold onto their passions is a champ, truly. I’m simply not one of them [at least for now]. And I want to let others know that’s okay.

Towards the end of that discussion, he explained to me that much of what was motivating him to “make it” as a designer was not simply getting paid to do what he loves but to escape the rat race.
“I’m tired, I don’t know how long I can keep doing this.” He then cited that he was worried about how he was going to afford taking care of his parents.

Ah, I thought to myself, well that’s a different story. The desire to escape the constant grind of work culture under capitalism is reasonable and I’d say fairly universal. And if you’re going to work the rest of your life, of course the preference would be to do something that brings you joy and fulfillment. I could relate to that, of course.

But I was not talking simply of finding a job that is enjoyable (enough) and pays you well (enough) when I was talking about pursuing your passion as a career. I believe we often have multiple passions — I would love to make money helping people, like through therapy or helping run a community program.

What I was speaking to directly was my passion for writing, my creative cravings. Trying to sell art seems as though its always been tricky business. The pressure to compromise, to do what fits the mold of what sells is a perpetual demand. Well, until you’ve hit a high enough level of success that you can bear the risk of creating things that do not resonate with people.

Which brings me to some Elizabeth Gilbert quotes that concisely capture the essence of what I was trying to say. This is from her book Big Magic, in a chapter in which at age 16 she vows to be a writer the rest of her life:

“I didn’t make a promise that I would be a successful writer, because I sensed that success was not under my control… In fact, I didn’t put any conditions or restrictions on my path at all… Instead, I simply vowed to the universe that I would write forever, regardless of the result… I also promised that I would never ask writing to take care of me financially, but that I would always take care of it — meaning that I would always support us both, by any means necessary.”

Let me repeat: “I sensed that success was not under my control.”

This is the point I was so clumsily trying to make yesterday. The idea that you can strive and strive to “make it,” and you may never get there. And I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with that. So long as the person striving doesn’t get discouraged or internalize it as a personal shortcoming or allow it to deter them from the pursuit.

“Making it,” unfortunately, is not something that all of us can achieve. There’s an inherent exceptionalism, a desire to be in the small percent of people who attain the type of success we glorify here in America: stardom, fame, and loads of money.

But I want to reiterate: there is nothing wrong in wanting this, in endeavoring for this. Heck, best of luck. For my beloved, I would love for him to get to that point. Because the alternative is terrifying, the question of how the fuck we’re going to survive this game of living and working in America, of trying to work out how we’re going to care for ourselves and the people we love with limited resources.

My point is that “making it” is not something we can simply choose. And those that do aren’t inherently better than us. There’s a strong element of luck (and often privilege) to how things pan out in this country. I’d also say much of it also comes down to how attractive and charming you are.

There is so much out of our control, so much of being in the right place at the right time.

What I want to encourage is for people to pursue their passions anyway, to invest in their dreams whether or not they come true the way they’d imagine them. To be robbed of dreaming, or to only seem them as valuable insofar as bringing them to fruition, seems like a tragedy to me.

For those of us who make it, congrats. For those of us who don’t, congrats as well. Whether or not you monetize your dreams or turn them into a career isn’t the point. I hope more than anything that they may always be yours, for you and by you. That no external outcome be the determiner.

May we learn new means of measurement, like how much pursuing our dreams brings us to life, reminds us of our divine nature, helps others get to know us, and inspires others to do the same.

And look, working sucks. Working jobs you’re not passionate about sucks. Trying to find a job in what you love is admirable, and I support you in it. Wanting to figure out how to take care of your parents without killing yourself trying to do so is a more than reasonable desire.

But I personally find it helpful to remember that most of us will fall in the majority who do not get an escape from the struggle. And may we remember that even in this place that feels like failure, we’re in rather good company.

❤ ❤ ❤

Writing as Communing with the Page

I want the words to come easily, fluidly. I always want the words to come easily, fluidly. I want my thoughts to flow nicely and neatly, to coincide with my feelings in a symphony of expression and ideas, with a sense of understanding and nurturing development.

This has rarely been the case in my decades of experience with writing, or at least this is what I tell myself. Writing has felt like a sludging through thick mud on the way to a place I don’t even know if I want to get to.

But if I’m being really honest, writing has mostly been fluid and easy, nice and pleasant. This is why I’ve written so infrequently, so inconsistently — because I was waiting for writing to feel good.

What got lost in this waiting is the reality that I can find ease and pleasure in the midst of writing instead of waiting for it to strike me.

Much has been developing within me in relation to writing — understanding around what it means and how it works. This is in large part thanks to these women (thus far): Elizabeth Gilbert, Julia Cameron, and Natalie Goldberg (side note: if anyone has suggestions for women of color authors on writing, please share!).

I’m not far enough into Natalie Goldberg to know for sure, but I can speak confidently that Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Cameron view writing as a spiritual practice.

And wow, how liberating, to view writing as something divinely inspired as opposed to an egoic pursuit. Trying to be a writer in the conventional sense has often been depressing, discouraging, and seemingly hopeless.

At one point in my life, I thought I wanted to be Ernest Hemingway. But then I learned he was kind of an asshole and (trigger warning), he killed himself. So, not exactly the ideal I want to work towards.

Even more relevant, I simply couldn’t work with this ego-driven perspective. I couldn’t feel sustainably inspired to write from a place of: my thoughts are important, are worthy of demanding attention. The “my” part made me cringe, made me turn off and turn inwards, away from sharing.

Part of this was insecurity and self-doubt, of course, but part of it was also a genuine and valid turning away from an overblown sense of self-importance. (I love the definition of humility as not making yourself too big or too small — it’s being right-sized. So, to be clear, I’m not against a healthy sense of self… nods off to AA for teaching me this one).

My writing feels important when it helps people. Everything else feels masturbatory, in service of me. Which isn’t to say I’m not here for journalling and solely personal writing — I’m saying if my goal is to impress people, to prove I’m smart and capable and articulate and can use big words, I’ve missed the point.

So, this new framework of writing really turns me on. It’s led to me writing every day, which I’ve only done rarely, in bursts, before it fizzles out. This perspective feels sustainable, and it also feels nurturing — writing has become a time for me to connect with Spirit, to listen deeply, to check my judgments at the door as I convene with the page.

I’ve also developed a deep gratitude for the page as a place of refuge.

The older I get, the more I realize my dad’s right that life is about relationships. And not just relationships with people, but relationships with everything, such as the page.

The page is kind to me. The page listens. The page doesn’t judge. The page is always here to receive me. And in turn, I do my best to honor the page and express gratitude and reverence for it. I mean, how lucky am I? That’s really how I feel at this point in my writing journey, which I’ve been on since I was a child (and am now 31).

Previously, the idea of being a writer felt like a goal forever out of grasp. These days, it feels like a calling, a given. It is the result of me showing up to the page and offering myself to it, and to Spirit, to be guided.

I mean, what a freaking relief, right?

i could write…

this is the phrase that pops into my head when sitting alone with myself, digesting my innumerable thoughts and emotions, pondering what to do with all the existential energy…

and so this phrase appeared in my head minutes ago, like clockwork with enough pause and self-contempt. writing has become the antidote and the punishment..

it’s hard to find the will to write, the willingness to stare at a screen and press my fingers onto springy tiles until words flow freely into a semi-coherent assessment of my current state.

i started this blog on a whim of optimism and surge of energy. i was doing it for myself, a public journal if you will..

because to put it all out here, even if no one were to read it, makes it all feel more real, more valid, more special.

it’s a struggle to feel special these days, to not feel like a number.. the rat race of capitalism only seems to be intensifying, and with the continued rise of the internet, grind culture, personal branding, etc., it seems like we’re constantly vying for attention, proving our worthiness..

and so it makes it difficult to fathom how it is that my one voice of 7.753 billion really fucking matters.. which is, i guess, a rather individualistic approach.. to focus on my voice as one versus many as opposed to one amongst many.

(there’s probably some white supremacy in there as well..)

but growing up in the so-called United States, we’re not taught to see others’ or the collective’s accomplishments as part of us.. as our own.. so this sense of competition, this perspective of your success is my failure, is ingrained in us..

but i digress.. i guess all of this to say, it’s easy to feel like none of this matters. (which is rather cliche, i know). i guess that’s why i have to believe in something “bigger” — in energy, in intention, in the ripple effect of every little thing that happens..

because that makes typing these thoughts onto this screen and sharing them to the “world” like a wish, a spell, a gift of sorts. it is a little slice of me joining the sea of the internet flowing between us.

i mean, it’s not like little fish swim around the big ocean thinking bout how small and insignificant they are, right?

alright, getting real cheesy now..

well, here’s to doing the shit, even when it feels fucking tiny and insignificant..

cause i mean, is soul shit really ever insignificant?

crying in the car aka helloooo there

Wanna try and figure out what it means to be human with me?

When I think about beauty, about a pure expression of life, the image of crying in a car comes to my mind. Maybe it’s me or maybe it’s someone else, but it always feels raw and real.

These days, sometimes I wonder if I’m really here. I guess that’s some form of disassociating, huh?

Anyway, I get that I’m supposed to introduce myself in some sort of succinct, enticing manner. But I don’t think I’m really doing this for “you”… at least not yet.

About “me”:

  • I’m a a white femme in the so-called “United States” trying to figure out wtf it means to be human & a citizen of the world.
  • I’m also a practicing “person” stumbling through life. More often than not, I’m confused by how to do all of this.

Anyway, if you find my words helpful, that’s rad. Like wow, I’m beyond honored. And if not, totally cool & best of luck finding something that does ❤

Lol here are some WordPress suggestions on what to talk about next:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal? – Damn, WordPress, calling me straight out. I guess I’d prefer a public journal :p
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about? – mild depression, anxiety over being human, lots of processing and reflecting with some cats & tarot thrown in there along with pop culture references maybe.. idk reallyyy
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog? – Gah, anyone who’s here for it. Like really here for it. Let’s grow together, y’all. Or at least make it a little bit easier by knowing we’re not alone in the struggle.
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished? – Okay, WordPress, I don’t need a 10-year plan for my blog, thanks.

Anyway, let’s be real, I may never write here again (despite spending $50+ on it), and no one may ever read this, so I’m not gonna try too hard.