So, today was the fortnightly Tuesday when my fellow memoir writers gather to share their life stories in progress. Only two of the four have completely finished their first draft. The other two (myself included) are still plodding away sifting the material we have accumulated over multiple decades; what goes in, what stays out and oh, should I change her name so she doesn’t sue me for telling my story the way I remember it?
Today I asked my fellow writers about their creative excuses for not writing. It wasn’t specific to memoir or novels or poetry or children’s books or non-fiction (I mentioned all of those because each of us has written one or more of them). But the list took up one whole page in an exercise book.
We laughed at ourselves and kept adding to the list as we moved through our reading and work-shopping time (it actually became disruptive, even though we could all relate to each reason!)
At the end of the list and our time together I asked the group ‘What does the resistance mean? What do we gain from procrastination?’
Each of them frowned and looked away…. thinking … thinking…. thinking some more. They all shrugged. Until one was brave enough to offer her insight. ‘It means I am getting closer. To exposure. To being ”out there” and all naked.’ Silent nodding from the other two.
Resistance has meaning for everyone. For writers it means we are closer to THAT moment of truth in the world of writing when we can no longer kid ourselves about whether our words will stand up to the sometimes brutal reality check of reader’s expectations. The thought of this can be so terrifying for some wannabe writers that they never publish their works. Others prefer not to share their words with the rest of the world. Strange, considering that is mostly what a writer wants or needs to do: express ideas in a very public way…
Ultimately, resistance in writing is the same as resistance in any aspect of life. It means we don’t get to drive our own bus. It means we don’t have to take ownership of the successes and failures that are a natural part of life, of having a go, of being human. At the end of the day, resistance keeps us where we are; in a place that is familiar, comfortable and safe…. an arguably necessary place either mentally or physically or emotionally.
Resistance, therefore, is the human condition driven by the primal need for safety. Yet…. somewhere along the way if we marshal our resources and slay those brontosaurs of fear, we will forge a new track through our minds and through the lives of those around us. A track others can follow. What will it take for you to push through your resistance to the other side of your fear?
What inventive reasons have you used to avoid writing or doing something you know you want to do but just don’t seem to get to?