I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
In her book,
I Will Not Die An Unlived Life
, Dawna Markova talks about reclaiming our passion. For me, this is a direct message to the writer in us. We get discouraged; we become self-critical; and, often, we give up writing. Throw down the pen, close the computer. Why did I ever think I could be a writer? Yet as Martha Graham says to Agnes de Mille, “There is a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action.” And, she goes on to say “This expression is unique. And if you block it…the world will not have it.”
Think about that. Your point of view of the world, your “optique” as the French would say, is yours alone. Artists offer their vision to the world humbly and without question. As Graham says, “It is not your business to determine how good it is. Nor how valuable it is. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
Dawna Markova has another way of saying this. She breaks down the word passion into three syllables: Pass I On. I read this to mean that we, as writers, as artists, must Pass I On – that is pass on what is ours alone, our own unique expression. Humbly. As a gift. Without question. Yes, we must keep working at our craft and getting better and better at what we do. Study, learn, work, repeat, rewrite, work. And, then without ego concerns of “will they like it, am I good enough” we put the work out into the world. The rest, as friends of mine would say, is up to God.
The adage in Hollywood, where I worked for years, is “nobody knows anything.” That is none of us knows what will be a hit; what will cause people to line up and pay money for a movie or a book or a work of art.
So, make a commitment to do your best work, offer it to the world, Pass I On, celebrate the completion, and, since there is no reason to worry about its reception, move on to find your next expression.
Let’s explore the dark side. Set the clock for ten minutes and answer the following
question: Why do I not deserve to be a recognized as an artist? You will see that
eventually you will run out of bad things to say about yourself. At that moment, set
your clock for ten minutes and write out your fantasies – make them as grand and
specific as possible – regarding the success of your work. Sit back with a cup of tea/
coffee/vodka (depending on the time of day) and review your work.