Friday, October 24, 2014

Have I Been Wasting My Life?

"The world does not want you to fail. The world is forever supplying you with the information you need to do exactly what you want. ...Do not fear the information. It is always friendly." (William Kenower)

Once a therapist told me I needed to get quiet so I could hear my intuition. That's how we know what life is telling us: by getting quiet.

Not I'm-so-pissed-off-I'm-shutting-down quiet.

But I'm-watching-the-clouds-roll-by quiet.

When I shared my memoir manuscript with two writer friends, they suggested big changes of different sorts. I was thrown. Did they hate it? Did they hate me? Was my book a piece of crap? Was I a piece of crap? Had I been wasting my life?

Painful revision? 

I sat back and watched my mind spin fearful worries, justifications and explanations. I got quiet, watched it all like bad weather.

And then one day, in the calm after the storm, I faced my manuscript and it was perfectly clear what needed to be done. I followed the advice of one of my friends and sliced out 1/3 of the manuscript. It was like pulling weeds. What remained blossomed.

The other advice, which had involved structural changes, I now knew not to be true to my vision. Still, I was grateful she spent her living time on my book.

And she had been helpful. Because knowing what I don't want helps me get clearer about what I do want. The trick, though, is to not linger in the unwanted. Instead, I use it to springboard me in the most helpful direction.

"Go only forward; that is the direction of life." (William Kenower)

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