The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It's been a long time since I read a book that I felt like was written just for me to read. I started it this morning and raced through 20 pages which I should qualify by saying they are short pages and sometimes reading on the subway can be hazardous. But so far I'm reading all about "The Enemy Within" or as the author calls it "Resistance." The photograph is a picture of Pressfield's idea of "Resistance's Greatest Hits." So many of these I can identify with. And what I also appreciated was the author's own admittance to having been defeated by Resistance from ages 24 - 32.
I am 31 (Sshhh!) and in 2013 it will be ten years since I graduated college with the Senior Achievement Award from my department and a Founder's Day Award and a 3.8 GPA from a pretty darn good private university. But right now, none of that fucking matters, other than I am still paying for that education.
When I first left school I was hungry. After spending the summer as a Camp Counselor in Vermont and then taking off to Ireland for a second time with that money from the summer, I found myself in the cold hard world of the entertainment industry, Christmas 2002. I met with a friend of my Dad's and he lit a fire under me to cold call 300 people looking for a PA job on set. After a few calls, I was hired and started working as a production assistant. I quickly became a director's assistant all the while pursuing my own writing dream. I paired up with a friend from high school and wrote a ten minute play that got into a playwrights festival and won a production. Two friends of mine were submitting to film festivals short films that they directed and I had written. I felt like I was exercising that discipline I learned from being in an intensive writing program. And then...it slowly... but surely...stopped.
I got distracted. I convinced myself I wanted to explore other things. And I did and I'm glad about that. But I slowly buried the passion for writing. I shot and produced a documentary. I worked in film. And then I just stopped. After two years of not writing, I decided to pick it back up and joined a playwriting group in LA. I started this blog though only gave the password to three people. Then I moved to New York and joined a fiction group. I signed up for memoir writing courses. I even applied to grad schools in New York which I see now was a grasp for an answer, a call for a savior. Needless to say, I think they could sense my desperation all over my application and was politely rejected from all of them. I joined a memoir writing group. I almost had a fiction story win a writing contest. I had a personal essay published by the 92nd Street Y in their online literary journal and in 2011 I had the biggest success of all - an essay published online by BlogHer. When I put it all down on paper, I start to feel a little better. There have been some accomplishments which feels better than none. But what kills me are the accomplishments that could be if I could just get my ass to the seat. Everyday, I find myself in a battle with resistance, a fight to see through my own bullshit that I don't even recognize how often I fling in my own way. But defeating resistance seems to be about harnessing your fears, stripping away the excuses, the "distractions," and getting as honest as possible with myself even if it hurts. The good news is, "The dream is not dead" as this same friend has said to me. And more importantly, resistance might be easier to defeat if I wasn't always defeating myself. This begs the question, would a huge success in writing, which I guess for me would mean a living made off writing, a story that inspired many people and brought about world peace or something like that, would it bring me the happiness I believe it might? The answer most likely is "no."
I can't count the number of times I overlook the accomplishments and focus on the "lack" of accomplishments. The strive for that golden word -success- means nothing without self acceptance and then self-love. If my ego is still running the show, nothing will ever be "good enough" because then what would be the purpose of the ego?
So for today, I am grateful to be given these little nuggets of inspiration and love. I am grateful for all that I have accomplished with my life - on and off the paper - which is pretty damn impressive considering the odds. I am grateful for my husband and my family and my friends. Oh, my friends, all over this country. And I'm grateful for anyone reading this blog and anyone who would want to add a thought or question or even a criticism. I am grateful for this moment, this day, these words and this life to keep learning and living, living and loving.