Write the Story You Need to Write
I read a thought-provoking post this morning from Lori-Lyn Hurley titled “You Know the Way” where she explores how we need to discern what is true for us amidst all the well-intentioned advice we get. “You hear one of these truisms often enough and it wears a little groove in your brain. It becomes true for you, when maybe it isn’t,” Hurley writes. “There is no shortage of people ready to give you instruction and advice. For the most part, these people have your very best interest at heart and are sharing information in absolute good faith. Some of that instruction and advice is going to resonate with you. It’s going to be of wonderful assistance. But some of it, you’re going to have to respectfully dismiss. Great teachers, people you love and respect, are sometimes going to tell you things that just aren’t true for you. They’re going to share truths that aren’t your truths.”
Hurley speaks to a spiritual community, but her words are no less true for writers and artists. In fact, they are more relevant than ever. So much of our art world is entrenched in copying what is proven to be financially successful that we risk losing the ability to offer something original. We get caught up in playing it safe. While this may work financially, it’s caustic to creativity. The very nature of creativity is to bring forth what hasn’t emerged yet. We see a wonderful freedom to explore new worlds in the frontier of technology – because it is new and the potential unknown. But there is just as great a potential for originality in the traditional arts as in technology. If we can get out from under the fear and weight of all that has come before us.
If you are in charge of your creative work, you own the process of how you create it. You are the only one, in fact, who can decide what that creative piece will be. There will come a point after you have gathered the sound advice of professionals you trust, when you will need to set aside all of their voices and go back into the work alone. Just you and the work. No one else’s opinions, directions, no consideration of who will approve or disapprove, of what your critics will think. No thought of awards or returns. Just you and the work.
From there, write the story you need to write. The one that trusts you more than any other writer to write it. The one that chose you. Trust yourself more than anyone else to take the risk of delivering something original.
Strip away the illusion that the work must “out-do” everything that’s been done before and go back to a very simple, very still point of being.
A place where there is no audience other than you. Where all it will ever be is what it becomes in your hands.
Where you allow it to be as beautiful and wild and deep as it wants to be.
Hurley says: “Listen to the voice that rises up through the earth and travels through you like light. Listen to the whisper of your very soul. Listen with your ear to the ground. There is a story that belongs to you. There is a song that is yours to sing.”
Sing. Sing as if no one will ever hear you.
And then, they will.