Tag Archives: reflection

Goals & Desires — The “Why” of Being Published

Photo by Ben Gallagher

I’ve wanted to be a published author since I was four years old.

Despite the twists and turns my life has taken, that dream has never changed, and certainly never died. I’ve never questioned the desire. But a couple of weeks ago, I read something that posed a question I’d rarely, if ever consciously considered.

Why?

Not “What do I want?” but “Why do I want it?”

That question made me stop. And think.

Two weeks on, I’m still thinking.

On the 9th of January, the always inspiring Vaughn Roycroft wrote a  heartfelt blog post examining his motives for pursuing publication for his fantasy trilogy. His journey of self-discovery touched me deeply, and encouraged me to question my own thoughts, feelings, fears, and motivations.

Vaughn is a writer I admire deeply. I got to know him first through the Writer Unboxed Facebook Group, and then through his blog. He has the ability to express his thoughts and emotions in such a way that it’s almost impossible to avoid being drawn into his story, what ever that story may be. (And this is just one of the many reasons I’m eagerly awaiting the day when I can buy and read his novels.)

Over the last two weeks, I’ve thought about his post a lot. It’s rarely been far from my mind. And that’s why I want to share both Vaughn’s beautiful words of wisdom, and my own response to it. Please click through to Vaughn’s blog and read Goals & Desires — Not What But Why. I’m certain it will touch you as much as it touched me.

My comment in response to the question of why I’m seeking publication is as follows:

“I reveled in the glory, the friendship and the honor I found in the pages of historical fantasies. I felt renewed by the sacrifices for love, and experienced cathartic sorrow and release in the losses. In a real world that seemed unmistakably darker, I found light in fiction. I was healed, in no small way, by reading.”

This section of your wonderful post moved me to tears. I know what you mean. I’ve been there, more times than I care to count. When life is too dark and too heavy, fiction brings the light of hope and wonder into my heart and lets me see the darkness for what it truly is — a shadow that will pass in its own good time.

I read to feel. To feel warmth and love and pain and despair and passion and humour. To immerse myself in worlds where integrity and honour define success. To experience good triumphing over the darkest of evils. And I cherish those feelings, those experiences, and hold them close to my heart as armour against the emotional slings and arrows of the world.

I write to share my heart’s story. My pain and triumph, my love and fear, my uncertainty and my faith that the bad guys can never truly win as long as a single person is willing to stand against them. I write because in doing so, my heart is strengthened and my resolve renewed. And I share what I write in the hope that I can do for others what so many authors have done for me and set their minds and hearts free.

Have you stopped to think about WHY you’re pursuing your dream?

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Smart Phones: Novocaine for the Creative Mind

There’s a table out front of the cafe. It’s a square, low-set thing surrounded by comfy couches and it’s always in use. Today, it’s occupied by a group of friends drinking coffee. At least, I assume they’re friends. It’s hard to tell because they’ve all got their phones in their hands, too busy texting and tweeting and Instagramming their cheesecake to talk to each other.

Nearby, a young couple talk about their plans for the weekend. In the middle of their conversation, a phone beeps. The woman doesn’t hesitate. She whips her phone from her bag and swipes across the screen while her partner continues talking about restaurants and movies. “What?” she says when he pauses for breath. “I wasn’t listening. Sarah wanted to ask me about Fiji, so I told her I’d call her later.”

At another table, a couple my age eat their croissants in silence. She excuses herself to go to the bathroom. Before she’s even picked up her bag, he’s pulled his phone out and is tapping away at it, completely oblivious to the world around him.

Everywhere I look, people are on their phones. Not talking on them, just tap-tap-tapping away. Who knows what they’re doing. Maybe they’re texting directions to a friend. Maybe they’re shopping. Maybe they’re flinging righteously angry birds at towers. I don’t know. But what I do know is what they’re not doing. They’re not looking at the world around them. They’re not communicating with their friends. They’re not communicating with themselves.

It’s that last statement that bothers me the most.

For so many people, the idea of being forced to sit and do nothing — to be trapped with nothing but their own thoughts for company — is the worst kind of Hell imaginable. A wait of two minutes is unendurable without the benefit of a phone to relieve the instantaneous boredom. And the thought of being stuck without that mindless entertainment for half an hour? Or an hour? Or a whole day?

I’ve heard it said. “What did you expect me to do, just sit here and do nothing for five minutes?”

Yeah, I kinda did. Because that time when you sit and “do nothing”? That time is valuable. That time is important for your mental and emotional wellbeing. Without that kind of downtime, when do you listen to your own thoughts? When do you truly think and reflect and consolidate everything you’ve seen and done? When do you just be you?

I worry. I do. The modern world is designed for entertainment. From Angry Birds to LOL Cats, World of Warcraft to Bachelor Pad, there are endless opportunities for us to immerse ourselves in electronic Novocaine. And our Smart phones make that possible even when we’re on the go.

Do you know what happens when you spend all your time immersed in electronic media? When you rely on your TV, computer, iPod, and phone to entertain you every minute of free time?

Nor do I.

But do you know what happens when you don’t?

Creativity. Passion. Inspiration.

All those things that require an open, quiet mind.

Think about what you’re doing when you get your best, most crazy exciting ideas. Chances are, it’s either when you’re asleep (or near sleep), when you’re exercising, or when you’re in the shower. When was the last time you had a crazy, exciting, inspired idea playing Angry Birds?

I don’t have a smart phone. I don’t have games on my dumb phone. But even I sometimes fall into the trap. Even I sometimes find myself thinking I’ve got five minutes to wait. I’ll just check my email…

Do me a favour. Next time you’ve got to sit and wait for five minutes, just sit and wait. Leave your phone in your pocket or your purse or your bag or your car or (gasp!) back at your house. Sit. Wait. Look at the world around you. Let your thoughts wander and see where they end up.

You know, the way you used to back in the olden days .

 

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