4/05/2011

Generosity Is More Than a Word

Generosity comes in so many forms, yet it's a rare gem in a cold world.

It's the opposite of selfishness, and selfishness is my biggest fault. It translates to "my needs are more important than yours." It hurts my heart to admit to feeling that way sometimes. A lot of the time.

Sometimes being selfish is a necessity, specifically with time - fighting for writing days, trying to protect deadlines, keeping news to myself until I can share it - all those things are required for me to meet my professional obligations. 

But what about those days when I'd just rather be alone, watch Doctor Who episodes on Netflix, or actually read a book for enjoyment? Take myself to a play or the museum or for a pedicure? Doing these things would take me away from my family, and they already think I'm a ghost. They get the shaft on a regular basis. 

So do my friends. I'd love to be able to have more coffee dates and dinners, talk on the phone about the price of asparagus at Costco, go to movies, or even do things that don't require me to leave the house, like manuscript crits or cold reads. I drop balls all the time - important ones - usually causing me to feel very ashamed. I should. 

Further she goes down the rabbit hole ....

Truthfully, it's not all the "things to do" in my life that are the problem. It's my poor management of them, and the things I allow to overtake me instead. It seems the same things that feed my creativity, or the results of those things, are often the enemies of generosity. 

Like most writers, I'm a little paranoid and a lot neurotic. 

My paranoia isn't the clinical condition (which is serious and deserves attention), it's simply a result of focusing on myself. What do people think of my book? What do they think of me? Did I just do something really awkward? What's my Amazon ranking? (It doesn't matter, it still doesn't matter, probably, and Amazon rankings are made of lies.)

If I were to focus my attentions outwardly, would I have all those questions? I think if I were to live generously, find ways to encourage and love other people instead of myself, my version of paranoia would fade away. 

However, when it comes to the neurotic thing, I'd like to buy what Carl Jung is selling. I believe, in its most positive form, neurosis can be used to define why a lot of creatives become artists. 

"What in the world is the value and meaning of a neurosis, this most useless and pestilent curse of humanity? To be neurotic – what good can that do? ... I myself have known more than one person who owed his whole usefulness and reason for existence to a neurosis, which prevented all the worst follies in his life and forced him to a mode of living that developed his valuable potentialities. These might have been stifled had not the neurosis, with iron grip, held him to the place where he belonged." ~ Carl Jung

See why I want to roll with Carl?

I don't have answers, this is just something I think about a lot. I wonder if other writers experience the same things, or if my very nature is so flawed that I should be quarantined from the general public. But then I think hiding is just another version of selfishness.

I write about relationships and humanity and love. Will I ever find a way to balance these things in my own life? What steps do I make toward living generously, with no agenda?

Tomorrow I'll find a really good LOLcat picture to put up. Thank you for bearing with me today. 





13 comments:

  1. I wonder if other writers experience the same things, or if my very nature is so flawed that I should be quarantined from the general public.

    Omg, have you been channeling my brain waves lately?

    Lovely post, Myra. I'm ready to roll with Jung, too.

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  2. How would you imbue your characters' lives with authenticity if you weren't fighting the same battles? And why would anyone read anything if they weren't also fighting the same things?

    These are things I tell myself, anyway. Maybe if we say them together often enough, we'll believe them. :)

    "What steps do I make toward living generously, with no agenda?"

    This post is a pretty obvious step, and I'd wager it's several steps removed from the first.

    <3 you.

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  3. Writing is the hardest (and most rewarding) thing I've ever done. It takes my whole heart and my whole brain. I feel like I barely maintain my marriage, and I am sooo grateful for my very understanding husband. But I for sure haven't figured out how to be a good friend and a good writer at the same time. I hope I do figure it out someday, but until then, I can't let myself spiral into a guilt fest because, yanno, deadlines. :(

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  4. Lovely post, Myra! But when you are writing and putting your emotions and imaginings on the page, you actually are being generous and sharing yourself with a world of readers. Writing is such an odd mixture of cowardice, bravery, selflessness and selfishness, isn't it? I love the Jung quote. It does make it seem a little more acceptible to be the way we have to be to write. So my new mantra -- Jung says it's okay to be a little crazy. :D

    Martina

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  5. You are not alone, not by a long shot. I think it's something we all struggle with. I must say though, you are one of the most generous people I know!

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  6. "I write about relationships and humanity and love. Will I ever find a way to balance these things in my own life?"

    I wonder about this all the time, because it's hard for me to find balance, too. I ignore my friends to write, only to turn around and ignore my writing to be with friends. And somehow I never feel as though I've gotten ahead of the game, more like I'm barely breaking even.

    When I first started my blog, I did feel like I was giving back, offering my limited experiences for others to learn from. But nowadays I feel like I've exhausted most of the topics worth discussing. That my posts have less important content than they used to. I've always eschewed the types of posts that I call "current events" (like the recent wildfire of posts inspired by a certain self-pubbed writer's reaction to a review) because I always feel like I'm the last person to find these things out, and I'm not sure what I can add to the conversation.

    Whoops, there go my neuroses again. If you really think you need to be quarantined from society, Myra, you better get a bigger cell, because lots of us should be in there with you. ;)

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  7. You are not alone, Myra. Your question about hiding really hits home with me. I sometimes feel overwhelmed with trying to balance my friendships, family time, writing time and time just for me. When I get too overwhelmed I do just that. I hide out and watch Disney movies.

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  8. I bet writers were even more neurotic before they could post like this and get response from others immediately. This is a fabulous post, which rings true. And I'm ready to roll with Carl, too.

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  9. You have completely in a nutshell captured my mindset this past week.
    Thanks!

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  10. Great post.

    I think the feeling of selfishness, at least for myself, comes from the fact that while a lot of people think writing is just something you do when you have the time, it's truly so much more than that.

    There are no 9-5 days. You write when you're inspired, you write when you're not inspired and nothing comes out right, you write on the weekends, early in the morning before school / day jobs / life gets in the way, at night when you can't sleep, and in between dreams that won't leave you alone until you jot them down in the notebook on your bedside table.

    You never stop being a writer. You can't hang it up at the end of the day. And while that's not an excuse, it's certainly a contributing factor to the ghosting out on responsibilities and whatnot.

    Hopefully we have friends and family that are incredibly understanding, and we do the very best we can to let them know they are loved and appreciated :)

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  11. Girl. You are not alone in this. I think you just wrote in a post that any of us who write, have a family, tangible responsibilities, intangible dreams, and a whole lot of juggling to do could've written.

    I feel the same way almost all the time. Writing seems like an indulgence and a necessity all at once, and it's a weird thing to try and justify when you need to go all ghosty and spend some time alone, or use every extra minute you can find to work on something.

    I have no simple answers. But you're definitely not alone in this.

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  12. 1. Being an artist, in its purest form, is being generous. It's a kind of sanctification.

    2. Accepting your nature will release you to attend you to your responsibilities, both quotidian and artistic. Fighting it will tie you up.

    3. I love what I see of you in this post. Really, Myra, I've known you online for, what, more than two years now? And I think you're exceptionally generous.

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