#Trust30 Day 17 – Head in the Clouds

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

My favorite quote of all time is Alan Kay: ‘In order to predict the future, you have to invent it.’ I am all about inventing the future. Decide what you want the future to be and make it happen. Because you can. Write about your future now. – Cindy Gallop

Here’s a snapshot from the future. It’s fun to dream.

I foresee a future full of many journeys and even more words. I see myself using words to paint pictures of soft summer sunsets and billowy clouds drifting lazily overhead as they resist the collective call of the people to go away(!) for the summer.

I see myself getting up at six in the morning and sauntering out to my balcony overlooking a quiet street in a seaside city. I quickly eat a light breakfast, then sit down to labor out a few thousand words before my brain needs a break. When the energy runs out, I stop, put the laptop away and take a short walk down the street to have a cup of coffee and read the paper. After an hour of relaxation, I head back to my perch on the balcony, where I would once again pick up the story. If words do not come, I take out a sheet of paper and a ballpoint pen and scribble out something—a new character, villainous and immoral, or a picturesque landscape, a place where the heroine could not help but be happy and beautiful.

With the mechanisms of creation turning out words once again, I spend several more hours developing these characters and the lives they lead. They have become dear to me, and they would be dear to others too, if only they knew them as well as I do.

They say a good length for a first novel is around 100,000 words. That sounds like a lot, but really it is very few, especially if you want people to know how much life your characters have.

I will write—and will not stop writing—until the words which have built up inside me for so many years have run out. It might not be in my lifetime, for there were many years when I watched and listened and said very little.

I will write to solidify my own thoughts and perspectives, which slowly shift like the ground over a sunken spring.

I will learn to write without using too much alliteration.

When I am tired, I will be careful not to write too much, for the words tend to ramble on without direction.

I will not be afraid to try new things, even if they might not be understood by everyone.

And I will never forget to somehow tie the end to the beginning, even when there appears to be no strong bond between the two.

Click. The shutter is closed.

Welcome to the #Trust30 Challenge

This evening I accepted the Trust Yourself Writing Challenge that was sent out by Seth Godin’s Domino Project. It is a pledge to write or create something (and share it with people) every day for 30 days, based on a prompt sent out by a famous (or semi-famous) author. The challenge is in honor of the 208th birthday of Ralph Waldo Emerson and his book Self Reliance. Each day for the next month, I plan to create something and post it on this blog. Some days it will be short and others it will be long, but I will post something every day by midnight relating to the challenge. In addition, I will continue to write about coffee and art and other topics.

Today’s prompt was this: “You just discovered you have 15 minutes to live. Set a timer for 15 minutes and write the story that needs to be written.”

As soon as I clicked the I accept button for the challenge, I immediately had some doubts about my ability to complete the challenge. Why would I want to do something like this? Would I really be able to do it? What was I thinking? Then I told myself to shut up and get to work. There’s no time for doubt, only creating.

I recently read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, an excellent book that I wish I would have read fifteen years earlier. Had I learned and applied the principles in the book, I am sure that I would have been able to be more successful in reaching my goals in life. The most memorable section for me was the part where Pressfield talks about becoming a professional. One of the things that Pressfield says about professionals is that they do not overidentify with their jobs, meaning that although what they do may be important to them, at the end of the day what they do is not who they are.

When you identify too much with what you do (the amateur mentality), you become so invested in it that the fear of failing paralyzes you. Professionals look at what they do with a cool rationality and as a result, can focus on improving their craft, not worrying about how many failures they have along the way..

I can see how the amateur’s attitude affected me when I used to play basketball. Basketball was so important to me that each missed shot during practice was a sign of a personal failure. Putting this type of pressure on myself to be perfect was counterproductive and led to a lot of self-doubt and negative thoughts. Had I taken more of a professional’s mentality, I would have looked at each practice session as an opportunity to improve my skills, instead of a judgment about how I was.

Trying to be perfect and then getting upset when you are not is not going to make you successful. Working like hell to learn your craft, while continually learning from your mistakes is. This is a lesson I learned way later than I should have, so as I look forward to this 30-day challenge, the goal is not to be perfect, but instead to create something that I feel is worth creating and to improve my writing every day. There may be some hits and misses along the way, but come what may, I’m going to put it out there, because writing is something that I do, it is not who I am.

This is the story that needed to be written today (though I admit it did take a little longer than 15 minutes to write).