Advice From a Friend

Awww, just get over yourself.

Yep, that’s what he said, nicely, but to the point. Steve Watkins, author and yoga teacher happens to live in my town. I met him a few months ago at a reading/musical event, and I asked if he’d be willing to teach a class at my studio.

Yes, he said. And–wow, we’re doing it.

Steve is not only a great writer (I’ve read his book of short stories –My Chaos Theory-¬†and I’m falling in love with Dewey right now). he’s also a down-to-earth really nice guy. As we chatted about the class, relationships, and writing, he urged me to send some of my poetry to a local literary journal.

I hesitated, saying I wasn’t sure I wanted to be so public and on display (which is kind of stupid since I write here so often). And that’s when he said, smiling: Get over yourself.

I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Seth Godin talks about not only getting to do the good parts of anything:

You don’t get to just do the good parts. Of course. In fact, you probably wouldn’t have chosen this path if it was guaranteed to work every time.

The implication of this might surprise you, though: when the tough parts come along, the rejection and the slog and the unfair bad breaks, it makes sense to welcome them. Instead of cursing or fearing the down moments, understand that they mean you’ve chosen reality, not some unsustainable fantasy. It means that you’re doing worthwhile, difficult work, not merely amusing yourself.

Facing comments about my writing, feeling the sting of rejection, these aren’t the parts of writing I look forward to. I don’t write to become well known. I do write because I love telling stories with words. So I can either keep them all contained in my new MacBook Pro, or I can send them out to the world and hope they find, as I’ve said before, “an audience of one.”

Steve offered to take a look at three of my recent poems, and he sent back solid suggestions and ways for me to rethink them. What a gift.

The very thing you’re seeking only exists because of the whole. We can’t deny the difficult parts, we have no choice but to embrace them.~Seth Godin