Body-Mind-Spirit - Inspiration for Writers, Dreamers, and Seekers of Health & Happiness
In Martha Beck’s book, The Joy Diet, risk is listed as an essential ingredient for joy. According to Beck, the criterion by which we should decide which dangers and fears to face, and which to avoid, should not be measured by our chances of success, but by the depth of our desire. She says that any risk worth taking is worth taking whether it leads to success or failure, and if your objective is not something you really want, even a tiny risk is a stupid one.
Eight months ago I wasn’t interested in taking any more writing risks. After thirty years cultivating my craft I wanted to be paid to write a book. So I hired a coach, hunkered down, and wrote my proposal for The Raw Years: A Midlife Healing Memoir. Now that I’m agent shopping, which takes time, I’m returning to writing my chapters.
My gremlins got pissed when they realized this. “That’s not the deal we made,” they hissed. “You were supposed to get an agent and a publisher so this manuscript wouldn’t end up in your file cabinet with all the others.” In other words, they said, “Show me the money!”
But I had nothing to show. Not a publisher or agent (yet), and no guarantees. I knew I couldn’t predict the fate of this or any other manuscript. All I knew was writing this book made me happy. It’s my dream and I don’t want to let it go—no matter what happens.
To help me get past my petulant writing gremlins, Brooke Warner, my writing coach, said, “Success in writing is reaching your readers—and there are many ways to do this. Everything is changing. The ground is rumbling underneath the publishing industry. Commit to your readers. You have the potential to reach people—with or without agents and publishers. The main thing is to reach your readers, and keep the faith.”
My life coach, Tracey Brown, told me to think of outcomes as extras, and focus on actions I can take, such as writing one chapter at a time, and to consider the hearts, minds, and souls of the people I’d like to touch.
Gremlins dwell in the land of ego. Engaging them is fruitless. Turning to Spirit, on the other hand, guarantees I’ll feast at life’s banquet. So with a prayer that my life’s work will one day reach as many readers as possible, and touch them deeply I’m moving forward with my memoir. It feels great to be writing it again.
My gremlins have quieted down since learning that I plan to divide my project into milestones, and celebrate future accomplishments with treats. This is much more empowering than dangling a carrot I can’t control, such as getting an agent or a book deal.
I will honor the completion of each chapter with an artist date and plan something special for myself, perhaps something I wouldn’t ordinarily do. I will go see a film; visit a museum; go to the beach, or a garden, or an art gallery; maybe a workshop or lunch out—something nourishing and fun.
Completing a section of my book, there are three—Body, Mind, & Spirit—wins me a weekend retreat alone or with my husband, but the emphasis will be on celebrating my accomplishment.
When I complete the book I’ll spend a week or more at a gourmet raw, vegan spa. I’ve got my eye on the Hippocrates Health Center in the Philippines.
My daughter’s drama teacher grades his students on effort, participation, and assignment completion—and not on talent because talent is subjective. So is all creative work. It’s essential to do our creative work for ourselves, but also for the people who are waiting to receive it, and whose lives will be enriched by our efforts.
This morning I completed a draft of chapter four (of 27) of my memoir. Writing this book is a risk near and dear to my heart, which tells me it’s a risk worth taking.
In terms of assessing risk, Beck asks, “Is this a risk you’d regret not having taken? Would your regret be worse than potential failure or disappointment? Which would be worse, your disappointment over failing or knowing you never tried?”
To me the answer is clear: trying is the most important thing. Trying is within my control. The rest is not. So if you’re wondering whether to take a risk, either personally or professionally, look not to your chances of success, but to the depth of your desire.
What risk are you taking? Or thinking about taking? I’d love to hear about it.