Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mind Over Matter

Sometimes I think a significant part of life, if not perhaps all of life, is simply a choice of mind over matter.

What?  It's that time again, try to follow as I wander the rabbit hole of my mind.  You might see something shiny along the way, you never know.  Oh, wow!  Squirrel!!

So, mind over matter.  It's how you endure things like dental x-rays that scrape your mouth and make you gag.  It's how you buck up and make the phone call you don't want to make.  It's how you eat something you hate at your friends house just because it's polite and she loves it.

Mind over matter. 

But it's more than that.  It's how an artist or performer does what they do.  It's how a dreamer finds success.  It's how a person beats the odds and makes magic happen.

Confused yet? 

Here's the disclaimer, yes, I know I see the world through my own little lens and there are plenty of people out there who never experience anything the way I do.  That's fine. 

As a side note, I think I'm going to develop a general disclaimer for the blog so I can just get on with the business of saying what I say and moving on. 

I guess I just always assume that if you don't like what you read, you'll move on.  I assume if you want to discuss it or say something about it, you'll use the comment box.  Okay, now then, I'm moving on to the topic at hand today.

In my limited life experience, everything to a degree is about mind over matter.  If you're giving a speech or even speaking up in a small group, it's mind over matter.  You decide that you can do it.  You think you can speak something intelligent of value and you will not be shunned, humiliated, judged, criticized or whatever is your brand of torture.  You just decide that it will work and you speak your mind.

A performer does the same.  In their mind, they choose to suspend reality, if you will and get up on the stage and preform their thing.  They decide in their mind that what ever they are going to do for your entertainment will be accepted and appreciated and valued.  They believe inside themselves for those moments that they really are that good or that talented or whatever it is they need to say to themselves to get up there and do it. 

A writer does that too.  We shake off all those nagging doubts, those voices of failure and self-hate. We find a way to get the words out onto the virtual pages without pressing delete, delete, delete in time with the blinking of the cursor. 

It's a trick of the mind to be able to do it.

But there's more, because with me, there's always more.  It's never enough to just have a simple clear presentable thought, there always has to be more. 

So here's the more.

And I'm going to be specific to writing here, simply because that's where I live most of my mental hours and energy.

That suspension of reality can go one of two ways.  It can be the thing that allows you the space and the freedom and the protection from the self-hate long enough to get the beauty onto the page and out into the world at large, or it can be the thing that causes a forcing.  It can be the thing that lets you get caught up in writing the right things for the right audiences and the right markets and agents and so on and so forth and in the end, the writing is lost.  The magic is gone.

I have in the recent past been finding myself avoiding blogs I used to love, skimming over writers who used to put out amazing stuff, simply because they're in the push to sell. 

This makes it sound like selling your work is a bad thing.  It isn't.  I'm the first one to confess, I have a great desire to sell the book I wrote in November.  I'm in the first leg of doing the colossal rewrite that comes under the vague space of editing.  It would be an utter lie for me to sit here and say I don't want it to sell.  I do.  I confess it would delight me in a school girl way to walk into a store one day and see my own book on a shelf all stuck up with a $5.95 discount sticker.  I'd probably stop and take a picture of it.  I'm that kind of dork.

Really.  I am.

But here's the thing.  I want to be very insanely careful that my writing never becomes a sell out.  I never want to be writing to a market, to a genre, to a label, to fit inside a certain set of parameters, even the constraints of Christian that I try to live my life under--yeah, I said it out loud and I'm risking all that in my little life circles--because to me, if what I write isn't pure and true to the story running in my head, I'm abusing the gift I've been given.  So it's a tricky thing to play the games, stay in the circles and explain, especially when I never really feel like I should have to explain or justify or somehow validate my own writing, when it doesn't match up with all the external preset perceptions of who you think I am or who I appear to be or even who you know me to be.  Okay, that sounds a little freakish, but what ever.  Try to follow along.

I've seen some really great writers pick their genre and strive to make all their work fit into it.  I've read some amazing authors turn into the equivalent of instant mashed potatoes as they try to make all their writing deliver the all important message they feel they are supposed to infuse the world with.

It makes me sad. 

At our house, "the fun house", we have a joke about the one unforgivable thing is word abuse and for me screwing with your own writing in that way is abuse of the gift.  And you know what else, the longer I think about it, we're really not joking about that word abuse all that much.  Words are fun and amazing and powerful and ultimately the language of the soul of the being.  They're not a thing to be misused.

Don't read that to say I never say a mean thing or call a person a name or raise my voice.  That's not at all what I said.  And if you have the fortune/misfortune to know me "in real life" you know that I barely ever pull a punch and spare a feeling to speak my mind and whatever twisted thing I see or think or feel or believe to be truth in the moment or the thing that simply needs to be said.  I speak it. 

And so I think my season of transition continues.  I believe I feel a shift coming in the careful writing that's been visiting here. 

It's a punk rising.  An inner diva looking for her stilletos and glitter.  It's time for color in a world of beige.