Staying Out of Our Own Way

Today's Creative Business Diary topic was inspired by a flash of what felt like divine intervention, an afternoon this week when I sat down to work on a piece of writing that had been in my head for weeks, and proceeded to hammer out a 4800 word story that I'm absolutely crazy about.

Sometimes that happens.

Already my memory of writing this story has taken on legendary proportions, where I'm imagining myself at my computer typing, sitting beneath a golden ray of light, wild-eyed, acting as a channel for forces far beyond my physical self. I know I'm making that sound very dramatic and movie-magic-ish, but I'm actually not making it up - that is exactly how it felt.

I sent the piece to a friend, a writer, someone I know for certain will always give it to me straight, and when she called me to say, "It's AMAZING," my response was, "I KNOW, isn't it?" Sounds like I think I'm All That, right? But I don't - in situations such as these I don't feel like I can take full credit. All I did was turn on a faucet when I sat down at my computer, and after that it just poured out of me. In a weird way, I'm not entirely sure what I had to do with that sudden, miraculous outpouring.

But I don't want to be all pie in the sky about it, so I'll propose this:  that I've been working on my writing for a while now, and I create finished stories multiple times a month for various blogs, books, interviews, and publications. And the story I wrote this week is a story that I've been walking around with across the span of a decade (a decade!) This week just happened to the week the spark of inspiration showed up, and, because I was willing to sit down and stay with it, magic happened. So while I do, deep in my gut, feel like this was one of those moments of divine inspiration, I also know that this inspiration would have meant nothing if I had not been willing to meet it halfway. All the work I've been doing as a writer got me to this point of my journey; if I hadn't been doing the work all along, I wouldn't have made it this far along the path where this astounding gift was waiting for me.

What does this have to do with the idea of Staying Out of Our Own Way? It's simple:  I've done a few edits on this piece, and will probably do a few more, but right now my work is to let the piece be. Aside from a word here or a phrase there, I know that if I start over-analyzing this piece and decide I have to work harder to make it "perfect" I will flub it all up. I'm going to do another round of edits this morning, be done with it, and start submitting it next week. Next week!

Here's the other part of today's topic at play - this piece is searingly honest, frighteningly honest. This is a piece of writing that is likely going to piss people off, inspire others to judge me, and expose some of my weirdest neurosis, feelings, memories, and experiences. If it gets published, I will truly feel like I'm walking around naked. But I also know that because of its honesty it is going to be deeply appreciated. I know women (yes, women) are going to get what I'm talking about. I know deep in my gut these are important experiences to share.

But let me tell you - it is terrifying to think of the whole world having access to this story. Terrifying.

Which is another reason I'm going to start submitting it sooner rather than later. I don't want to chicken out.

Our creative work has a life of its own, and it is our job as artists, writers, and creative entrepreneurs to honor its journey. And this means we have to be mindful of all the ways we might hinder or prevent that from happening. I have to stay out of my own way with this piece of writing, which means I have to avoid over-editing and start submitting it immediately. As for my fears about this? Well they're just going to have to crawl into the back seat, because right here, right now, they don't get to have an opinion about anything.

"If we are to understand the human condition, and if we are to accept ourselves in all the complexity, self-doubt, extravagance of feeling, guilt, joy, the slow freeing of the self to its full capacity for action and creation, both as human being and as artist, we have to know all we can about each other, and we have to be willing to go naked." -May Sarton

Have any questions about this or experiences you'd like to share for the Creative Business Diary? Send them my way at