Lines in the Sand

December 14, 2015

Lines in the Sand

I received this link this morning through an online group: Elizabeth Gilbert & Marie Forleo – Fear, Authenticity and Big Magic. Listening to it helped me extend and add some lines in the sand. (Caveat – swearing involved in the video). It is longish but OH SO WORTH IT if you, like me, are struggling with what success means; with self-worth, with achieving. Whether as a writer, artist, musician, business person, parent, spouse, whatever you want to be successful at. It added to my description of success and working through my fears.

Monetizing, Success and Creativity…Do They Have to be Exclusive?

SO much emphasis has been put on monetizing our work as writers lately that I feel it is stifling creativity, at least mine. The part in the interview where Gilbert talks about NOT expecting your creativity to support you ~ that YOU will take the pressure off your creativity and support IT….totally resonated with me.

‘Make money with your writing this way,’ ‘Monetize it this way,’ or ‘ ‘You can’t be a successful writer unless you make money at it.’ Sometimes, I worry SO much about making money with my writing that I don’t write. I just sit and stare at my computer or do ANYTHING else on it than write. Sometimes life just gets in the way and I absolutely don’t have time to write. So does that mean I’m unsuccessful. Earlier this year I would have said yes.

I have been struggling with this lately because I work outside the home, because I have a life commitment that I can’t let go of just yet, because I have been having some small successes that spur me on to wanting bigger success. But do we let others’ definition of success taint our own achievements?

What Does My Sandwich Taste Like?

When Gilbert got up in the morning, for seven years, to be a bar tender, a waitress, or an au pair, she didn’t know that she was going to see her name on the best seller list (‘Eat, Pray, Love’ anyone?). What she did know is that she was willing to eat whatever type of sandwich (just watch the video) was set on her plate in order to write. Writing is what she loved so much for those seven years that her sandwich tasted like other jobs in order to pay bills; in order to allow her the space to be creative.

My sandwich tastes like databases compiled for others, dishes done at my own home; slogging through webinars, blogs and websites – none of them my own, in order to gain some more knowledge; getting back on the writing horse, getting the words out of my head so there’s room for other things. What does your sandwich taste like?

WHAT exactly does my success look like?

Like any writer, I DO want my writing to make money. But is that where my success lies?

Not so much – at least at this season of my life. I’ve come to realize lately that success is when I can sit down at the end of the day, with my glass of bubbly water and lime, relax and truthfully say that I got words down on paper – even though my day was jam packed with life. That I sat down and slogged through some words, good or bad, they are down on paper – or more accurately, up on the computer screen and in some not-so-understood place called computer memory.

My Line in the Sand

So what is my line in the sand? That I put fingers to keys and started pushing them. That I wrote. That is my measure of success right now. THAT is my line in the sand.

Because I have come to realize in recent months that I am writing through an ever-present fear; an incipient fear of success. I am writing through one devastating sentence, said to me when I was in my early 20’s; said in anger and drink stained self-recrimination, by someone I loved. I allowed that one sentence to shape me for too long. (A topic for another blog some day…maybe.) I allowed that sentence to sink in and dig its talons in me; to be fearful of success because someone else had not been successful – in their own eyes.

Pulling Out the Talons

But that fear of success is slowly being replaced by another fear – the talons are being removed…one sharp claw at a time. The fear of success is being replaced in a healthier – at least for me – fear of failure. I don’t want to say, “if only” in my later years. So I’m drawing a line in the sand. I cross that line whenever I write IN SPITE OF the fear. Whenever I write, period; whether it’s going to make me a dime or not. Whether it’s good or not. I cross that line every time that I put fingers to keys to string together letters into words, words into sentences, into paragraphs, pages and a book.

Lines in the Sand - measures of success or fear

Lines in the Sand – sometimes they move

I cross that line every time I work through the fear of what someone else might have once thought of me or what they think of me now. The fear of living down to others’ standards or up to my own. The fear of failure. The fear of success. Of not being good enough. Not making a difference. The fear of not making money after all the time I’ve put in to this venture. And even the fear of making money and having to do it again.

For now, in this season of my life, working through my fear is my line in the sand, my measure of success. Sometimes the line will move BUT the line is there and can be crossed.

Where do you draw YOUR lines in the sand? Are you tentatively putting a toe across one or are you boldly walking right over it? What is YOUR measure of success?

Go find your lines in the sand….
Looking forward to our next visit!

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