At one time early in my writing life I was told by a school acquaintance and writer that writers essentially had to be unhappy in order to write. Depression and vast quantities of booze, rather than being detriments to writing, were supposed to fuel it.
Of course, literary history seems to support the howling-mad and sometimes drunken genius — Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, etc. Analytical studies of creativity — a favorite is Donald W. Goodwin’s Alcohol and the Writer — also seem to suggest at least some validity to the idea that art’s inspiration often lurks within the dark tea-time of the soul.
With so much evidence at hand, and a natural predisposition to brooding, I felt drawn toward the murk. And while I’ve had a relatively successful career as a newspaperman, and have had some successes publishing fiction and with freelance writing, I’ve also wallowed in a mire of negativity.
Last year, however, at a moment when the mire was pulling me deeper into its darkness, and all my entanglements providing little to show as a writer, I checked out from the library Henriette Anne Klauser’s Write it Down, Make it Happen. I felt strangely pulled to this book, as if — agnostic that I am — a magnetic force were drawing me to the book.
The jaded skeptic kept wrestling with the open-minded reader, saying this book was just a bunch of New-Age hooey. Still, I read the book, or most of it, because, at the same time, my interest in Buddhism (not as a religion, but as way to change my attitude about life) had led me to read about Buddhism’s principles, and some of what I was reading in Klauser’s book seemed marked with Buddhist thought. And things were, indeed, happening — arguably coincidental — as I wrote through some of Klauser’s exercises, especially things on the goal list that I first wrote down: moving and marriage, for instance.
Now, a year later, I’ve again fallen into the mire, and yet, once again I’ve felt drawn to a book: Write Free: Attracting the Creative Life by Rebecca Lawton and Jordan Rosenfeld. Interestingly, when I read the description of the book, after following a link from Jordan’s blog, I had an ah-ha! moment: This sounds very much like Write it Down, Make it Happen, except it seems specifically geared toward writers. So I ordered the book, and have been actively been reading it and writing through the activities. I’ve been gaining insight into myself, and greater focus into how my writing life should transform. Up until recently, my idea of how I want my writing life to evolve has been pretty nebulous, especially because it has been sunk in a mire of negativity.
What’s the book about, you ask? It’s principally about how to a attract a creative life through positive thinking. But it’s not just thinking you’ll be a writer that the book proposes: it proposes action and resolve. It helps writers, or any creative person for that matter, focus on what they want by writing down their desires and acting on them. The book’s central idea is that a writer can attract the life he or she wants, and at the same time he or she can be un-mired from negative energy: negative energy, indeed, is the culprit that denies us our dreams. “If you picture things going badly,” the authors write, “you are pulling negativity toward you by expecting it.”
Editor’s Note: This is a Sunday Salon post. Check out Sunday Salon here.