A few weeks ago I was a fountain of inspiration, a writing machine, words were pouring out of me. I was full of ideas, projects, excitement, enthusiasm. Then the seeds of doubt began to enter through various channels—little comments made by others, reading discouraging blog posts about writing and publishing, small disappointments in my efforts to find readers—and those seeds began their slow destructive work.
Now I am not sure what I am doing. I am at a crossroads, a crisis of faith in my writing, a confusion of direction, method, voice and form all at once—not easily solved or answered. I have hints, portents, inclinations, but not resolution. I don’t have a direction yet or a way in.
This is not a comfortable place to be. I feel alone. Unsure even of my questions. If I had the right questions, I might more readily find answers.
What am I sure of? The larger aims. To write beautiful, lyrical, startling poetry and prose and to share it as broadly as possible with others. To speak from and to the heart and soul. To speak to the beauty, the spirit, the wonder, the ache of being alive in a human body. To uphold my dearest, most cherished values. To serve in that way one of the great functions of art, to be a beacon.
I am clear we need art, clear just how completely, utterly, desperately we need art, clear it can call us home to the best in ourselves and our world—and I believe it ought to do so.
I am clear art is a bright flag against the destructive brutality of materialism, greed, the lust for power. Art gives hope, healing, connection, relief, inspiration, joy and so much more.
I am not clear on the medium, form, style of the book I have been writing and whether I am barking up the wrong tree or just in the wrong way or neither. I have something I need to do, but I am not sure precisely what it is.
It is a very uncomfortable place to be, having set out in my little boat, only to find myself stranded part way across the water, unsure where I am headed, where I ought to be headed, unsure of the boat, how sea-worthy it is. And my familiar oars, my trusted tools, seem to have been taken away or at least called into question.
Meanwhile, I want to write. I want to complete work I am proud of. I want to complete whole projects and send them out into the world. I desperately want to be published. I want an audience.
I want to study, learn and hone my craft, grow as an artist, be deeply engaged with my art, center my life around my art, be in deep conversation with other artists, stretch myself, be part of the larger conversation in the arts.
So, what to do when I am lost? I ask myself, what are the steps towards these things I know I want? I make a list of steps to take. And then I ask, what are my most immediate steps I can take now, today, this week, this month? What are my next steps? And I begin again.
I also keep asking the questions, listening for my own answers, looking for signs and synchronicities to point the way, open myself to help. Most of all, I keep writing, reading, writing. I keep going.
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If you find yourself getting lost on your heart path (or art path), sometimes a skilled mentor can be a great help to help you see more clearly, teach you tools to clear the brambles in the path, and give you structure, support and accountability to keep going. Also, it’s not so lonely or hard when you have a good companion on the path. If you’re interested in Mentoring with me, click here to find out more.