Warning: this is a no-edit zone…
As I start my day, three things are on my mind.
1. First, it is Veteran’s Day, and I am grateful to all those who have served and sacrificed so that I might know freedom. I am grateful and humbled by the costs and the willingness of so many to pay them. Might sound trite, but I promise you, it is most sincerely heartfelt.
2. Today I begin again. The diary of a novel is on hold while a new proposal is begun. A WAR GAMES book, number 5 (I can’t believe we’re there already!), KILL ZONE. I know the heroine well, this Dr. Morgan Cabot. She’s appeared in DOUBLE DARE and in BULLETPROOF PRINCESS, if only briefly, and she intrigues me in ways only those who are extremely sensitive to the unspoken and unseen can. I’m eager to begin working with her, seeing inside the complex layers of this woman and how she relates to the world around her. Lord, we all have layers and conflicts within, but she has an extra layer that nudges at me deep inside. I’m not yet sure why, but during the course of the writing, it’ll come. It always does.
3. These are challenging days for writers. Book sales are essentially flat, royalties are scarce, and there’s an uneasy hush, felt but unspoken, about writing for a living. A small group are blossoming and growing and enjoying great success, but many are struggling to stay financially afloat. It has always been vital to write for the love of it but in tough times as these–which have come and gone before and will again–we who write are reminded with a wallop the necessity of Absolute Integrity of Intention and Purpose. And this, I find, is that which most claims the attention of my personal, internal compass this morning.
Regardless of what you do professionally or personally, tough times make for tougher times unless you have other, more significant reasons for doing what you do. It’s a time for total honesty and openness with yourself and others. A time to know solidly why you’re doing what you’re doing–the purpose. Your purpose.
If you work just for the money, you’re in trouble. If you work to serve a greater purpose and the money is a by-product–even if it’s essential to you and yours to sustain home and life–purpose carries you through the tough times with a sense of worth and rightness. Fulfillment and success are not alien to you during these times because they are defined on your terms, by your requirements.
It is amazing how peaceful purpose and absolute integrity, open honesty, can render you even in the face of turmoil. It isn’t that you’re unconcerned about the state of things. It’s that the state of things isn’t all you’re concerned about. You’re still, through it all, fulfilling purpose. There is an innate beauty in knowing it that has strong soothing powers that allow you to continue working in spite of challenges, regardless of negativity and images of doom and gloom being cast from all directions. They’re there and you see them, but they lack the power to knock you to your proverbial knees because you see them AND so much more. The good in what you’re doing. The grace in accepting what is and remaining focused on what it is you’ve chosen to do with your life.
During tough times, some quit. Relationships end. Work changes. These transitions are rarely smooth and never go off without a hitch. More often they are violent, abrupt shifts that shock us and situations blow up unexpectedly, rapidly disintegrate and leave us reeling.
All of that, any of that, can be extremely disconcerting. But I’m reminded of a universal truth, and those are universal truths because they remain true without fail. It is easy to work when times are good and nothing challenges you. It is harder to do when times are hard and everything challenges you. But in which do you grow more? In which do you have most to say, to share, to give through your work? In which does absolute honesty and integrity–purpose–most sustain you and remind you who you are, why you’re here and why you’ve made the choices you’ve made?
Tough times bring tough reactions. Many of my fellow writers will feel hostile at conditions and repressed anger will surface. Others will slide into depression and sadness will envelope them. They’ll feel unable to cope and as if they’ve failed. All of these are valid emotions and yet none of them are productive or constructive or in anyone’s best interests. Negativity breeds negativity. Like attracts like. And falling into step with these things will bring more of the same heaping down on their heads.
In a profession where you hear no so much more often than yes. Where you hear “bad” news so much more often than “good” news. Where you hear war stories far more than ones of dreams coming true. It is impossible to dodge all of those negative bullets. Impossible. To avoid mortal injury, you need thick skin and heavy armor.
You will take hits. To absorb them and stay healthy–physically, mentally, and spiritually–make sure your own arsenal is full. Purpose. Honesty with yourself and others. Openness about your work, your reasons for doing it.
You can fight the realities of your situation, deny they exist, invest your energy in railing at the injustice of it all. A little of that might be healthy now and then. But none of it is healthy for long, and none of it changes anything. What is, is.
Recognize that, accept that with grace, and then look for constructive ways to deal with it.
When you do, amazing things happen. You don’t ride emotional roller coasters, you stay balanced. You don’t slide into the negativity abyss and spend months clawing and crawling your way out of it–you see it and sidestep it. And because you’re looking at the situation with absolute honesty and integrity, your intentions are focused, your purpose clear. And those things work miracles in your life. Those things bring about lasting change.
Actively participating in these transformations, you remain centered and peaceful, and you learn to trust the process. Everything has cycles, seasons, its own time. Change is inevitable and that’s a good thing. Not always easy, but ever important.
Change opens new doors and windows and shines light into hidden crawl spaces. It exposes new roots and sprouts new seedlings. Growth is good. Not always without pain–(remember when you were a kid, those leg pains from your bones stretching)–but always with new opportunities and benefits for those who seek them.
And so today I begin my day, focused on acceptance and grace, openness, and look to all the potential this day holds. All the possibilities for purpose. And I wonder how Dr. Morgan Cabot is starting her morning, and how you are starting yours…
c2005, Vicki Hinze