Friday, December 26, 2008

All That Matters Is That I'm Writing

Friday, December 26 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

What does this Muse want of you? Why won’t it go away?
It won’t because it can’t. It can’t any more than you can ignore it.
As long as that siren sings to you, neither you nor it can rest until you answer...
~ The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write

All that matters is that I'm writing... I repeat this phrase, mantra-like, in the hours before dawn -- in the hour before my alarm goes off -- trying to drown out the fear and anxiety rattling around in my head. All that matters is that I'm writing...

Like many, these days, I find myself in the throes of financial uncertainty, not sure how I'm going to stay afloat...not sure if I'll stay afloat.

After four years of financial miracles -- miracles that got two books completed and published, miracles that allowed me to travel this country countless times, miracles that freed me to bring the gift of my voice and my words to many of you -- it has been feeling as though the well of miracles has run dry. With money seemingly running out and bills appearing unpayable, I'm now completing my fourth week as a retail stockman in a seasonal job that will likely stretch beyond the holiday season.

It's a relentlessly physical job with long hours and with a paycheck that only begins to cover my expenses at a time when more remunerative coaching, editing and speaking gigs are not showing up. And I've spent most of these past weeks more resentful than grateful, more worried than trusting, more afraid than alive.

I realized on Christmas Day, though, that the well of miracles never runs dry. It just takes on different forms for different times and different needs.

Among those miracles is the job itself, one that fell into my lap with no interview (when other applications went unacknowledged, when interviews elsewhere reaped no offers) and one that pays more to start than similar positions in town. Another is one of my co-workers, who always makes me laugh, even when all I want to do is cry. A third is my ability, surprising even to me, to manage the job's physical rigors without ill effect.

Then there are my close friends, whose combination of loving support and tough-love pep talks have kept me going through these challenging times.

One of those friends sent me an email earlier this week in which he repeatedly reminded me to "write, write, write." "It is your soul work," he wrote. "It is your gift."

I read his words and, sobbing, remembered a revelation I had last month as I was heading back toward Albuquerque after six weeks on the road. I knew that after a decade of fits and starts, it was time to complete The StarQuest, one of two projected sequels to my novel, The MoonQuest. "Regardless of what it takes and what is required of me," I remembered saying, "I commit to getting it done. It's time, and I'm ready."

That realization receded somewhat in my early days back in town, preoccupied as I was with home-hunting, job-hunting and a Thanksgiving visit from my daughter. It pushed back to the surface with my friend's email, which made me teary not only every time I reread it (which I did often) but every time I talked about it.

A few years ago, when I was still traveling and offering regular inspirational and sound-healing teleconferences, one of my talks was about passion, heart's desire and purpose. We must follow our passion and heart's desire, regardless of cost and consequence, I said at the time. More recently, in The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, I quoted Abraham Lincoln as saying, "Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way."

What I've come to realize is that it's now time for me to live those words. All of them. More fully than I ever have before.

I have to write. I have to complete The StarQuest.

Yes, my Muse demands it of me. But, more importantly, my soul demands it of me.

If I've such a powerfully emotional response to this renewed call to write, then it's a call I must answer -- regardless of cost or consequence. I cannot write, speak and teach what I write, speak and teach without honoring that soul imperative, without surrendering to this profound yearning.

I love inspiring you to follow your soul's call in all the ways I have done over the years -- through coaching (writing, life and spiritual), through sound healings and activations and through transformational art and energy portraits. As well, I love sharing my life with you through these newsletters and blog posts. And I will continue to do all these things as opportunities arise. (I'd much rather generate income from these avenues than from my current job!)

But I cannot inspire you to follow your soul's call unless I'm following my own. And I cannot follow mine if I keep worrying about how I'm going to live and what I may have to give up to do it. All I can do is do it.

If doing it means working as a stockman, then that's what I must do. If doing it means I have to move or do without, then that, too, is what must be done. Whatever it takes is whatever it takes.

Another gift of my current retail stint is the discipline it is teaching me. Not the "hard discipline" of having to write a certain amount or for a certain period each day. But the "soft discipline" of being a disciple to my writing, of recognizing that if this call is so important to me, I have no choice but to follow my own advice in The Voice of the Muse and carve out whatever time I can, recognizing that I have no greater priority in my life right now.

The rest is up to God, however you define it. There is no other way. Because, in the end, all that matters is that I'm writing.

What is your soul calling you to as you launch into 2009?
What sings to your heart?
What are you not doing that would feed your essence?
How is your fear holding you back?
How are you allowing your light to be dimmed and your life to be diminished?
What are you afraid of losing?
What are you afraid of gaining?

Please share your thoughts and comments, your fears and desires, here.

May the new year bless you as you open to the yearning of your soul. And may you recognize your innate strength and limitless courage as you answer its call.

• If writing is your passion and you're having a difficult time acknowledging it and/or acting on it, this guided meditation -- an audio excerpt from The Voice of the Muse Companion: Guided Meditations for Writers and my holiday gift to you -- may help...

Image of The Muse by Richard Crookes from the cover of The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write (LightLines Media, 2008)


Anonymous said...

"Fear is like water, extinguishing the blazing muse." >Jo-Anne Vandermeulen<

Jo-Anne Vandermeulen
“Conquer All Obstacles”
Prolific Writer of Romantic Fiction

Mark David Gerson said...

Beautifully put, Jo-Anne.

At the same time, unless we allow ourselves to feel our fear (and all our feelings), it can be difficult to move through and past them.

Feeling them, of course, doesn't mean clinging to them. It means acknowledging them and letting them go. Otherwise, the muse surely will be extinguished.

Charlotte said...

Oh my God, what a moving post. I, too, have worked crappy jobs in order to keep my writing habit going and I know first-hand how soul-crushing it can be. I've always heard that writers have two choices in jobs: one that will use their writing skills, or a physical one that, while difficult, will at least allow their mind to roam free. Hope yours is at least of the latter sort. I'm so pleased you've recommitted to writing the next book. I coach writers, too and sometimes I have to stop and remind myself to do what I teach! I've also learned through it all that truly if I put my own writing first in some magical way everything else falls into place.

Mark David Gerson said...

My current job is "of the latter sort"...though I'm also looking at a part-time job as a magazine editor. So I could end up with an interesting blend of the two.

As for putting one's passion first, I agree 100%. I do believe that when we do the soul's work, the soul takes care of the rest (though not always in predictable ways!).

Thanks for the comment, Charlotte. Keep on coaching...yourself!!

Autumn Heartsong said...

Your courage and honesty are inspiring, Mark...and those of us who draw from that well through your generous spirit and written word can be a well for you, too. Thank you for giving us a chance to show you support and I hope you will draw on that energy anytime you need it. I still rattle the chains of corporate bondage and dream of breaking free...and I write - in part because you're out there saying, "Write!" Keep going...stay strong...and make notes - there's got to be a story in all this!

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks, Autumn, for your words, your support and your energy. I'm glad you're writing, and I'm pleased to be part of the inspiration that keeps you at it!

Mark David

Ivan Chan Studio said...

I'm glad you're showing yourself compassion in these hard times.

You're right about the miracles showing up in various forms. Sometimes it's a bag of pennies that equals a hundred bucks, and sometimes it's a hundred crisp dollar bills. The retail work closes the financial gap just a wee bit for a while, and who knows where it will lead, in both spiritual and mundane opportunities?

My best wishes to you during this period. We're braving the storm together, if seemingly apart.

Take care,


Mary said...

very heartfelt and heartful post. always good to remember these things, yes?

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks, Ivan and Mary, for your comments. You are among the miracles I'm grateful for.

Robert Girandola said...

Mark - I really admire your honesty and sharing this with others - perseverance in the face of adversity is the highest form of faith. I am sometimes gripped with such fear and it is so 'hypnotic' because it pulls you from the NOW - the moment of creation - I love that you are using each moment as a creative moment and sharing your journey.

Anonymous said...

Very nicely put, Mark, your post came at the perfect time, when I was seriously doubting my ability to sustain my call to write. I shall, without a doubt, continue on! Thanks!

Mark David Gerson said...

I'm so glad my experiences are giving you the courage to continue. Write on!

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks, Robert. And keep on creating that wonderful art.

Pan Historia said...

You help remind me to count my own blessings.

Thanks for putting that vulnerability out there for others to relate to.

Sun Singer said...

I appreciate everything you have said here. Yet there are times when I want my muse to go away or at least shut up.

My plans have always been to take what she inspires me to write and find willing publishers and audiences. Since this hasn't come about, I wonder if the Kabbalists' suggestion applies, that being that when plans get changed, the universe is trying to get your attention.

Perhaps the writing itself was all the muse cared about and that my profound clinical depression and financial ruin are intended not as consequences but as part of the writing journey as well.

It has, then, been a bumpy road and I frequently ask my muse whether she intends to always be this cruel.

I might forgive her tomorrow, but each time I do it becomes more difficult.

You have found your peace, I see, and your words motivate me to keep looking for mine.

Best wishes,


Joannie said...

Thank you for the post. I own that I am the person who needs the stability of a corporate job (and the health benefits) before I can write. Otherwise, I'm pretty sure I'd spend all my time worrying and not writing. But I appreciate and admire people who are able and willing to follow their muse anywhere.

Best wishes for 2009.

Mark David Gerson said...

Malcolm: Thanks so much for your heartfelt sharing. It is not always an easy journey nor is the path always straight. And a lot of the time we would prefer it to look way different than it does. The bottom line, at least for me, is that unless I follow the voice of my muse (which is also the call of my soul), I won't be alive. I may not be always be happy....but I'll be less happy if I don't. Keep the faith, Malcolm. I believe in you and I'm grateful that you're part of my life.

Joanie: We all do the best we can where we are and with what you've got. You're doing great, too. Just keep writing (if that's the call)!

Layne said...

Mark, I came over from twitter, and am glad I did. I honor your honesty and open heartedness. My soul is calling me to jump back in to a few unfinished writing and publishing projects. I appreciate all you have to say here about your movement through your situation and your commitment. The economy does add an interesting factor. But, yes, the writing can and must be done. Sometimes I get lost in the web design work and photography, but I can't ignore the writing and the books that are waiting to be created. All the best to you! ~Layne

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks, Layne. One of the things I have come to realize in recent days is that although there are many things I do well (and love doing many of those things), only one thing (at this time) makes me cry when I talk about it: writing, and working on my novel, most specifically. That tells me all I need to know. Right now, all I can do is trust that following that call is the most important thing I can be doing. The rest, as I said in the post, is not up to me.

Open your heart to yourself and to your soul's calling. As I said to Malcolm (above), following that call is no guarantee of anything...other than your sanity!

Now that I'm writing every morning before I go to work, my whole attitude for the day in general and about work in particular has shifted. I'm actually in joy, even while heaving boxes and moving merchandise. No one's more surprised than I am.

Trilby Jeeves said...

Thank you. Your post is timely for me. I have been "writing" a play for me and had set a goal for March 2009. I'm afraid I will have to adjust the time line because I have not been able to write for the same reasons you wrote. But, reading your words calms me down. I feel more encouraged. I will write it. It will get done. Maybe in a different way.
Thank you for sharing your honesty.

My best, Trilby Jeeves

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Trilby. Remember, all that matters is that you're writing. Your soul's call isn't about destinations. It's about the journey. Go for it!

Ellen Brown said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you for being so vulnerable, as it inspires me to do the same in my blog and in my life.

Like many people, these days, I'm going through some hard times financially. Writing and coaching gigs that were paying the bills seem to be drying up, and I ask myself why? What does the universe want me to do instead. Sometimes, I get angry at the universe for seemingly sending me in a new direction (coaching) and then finding that the well is dry or at least not so full.

Lately, I've been getting into writing more than usual. I'd gone through a period of being quite sick of it. Quite fed up with the process. But lately, I am loosening up. Blogging has helped with that some. And then, when I listened to your "I'm a writer" excerpt from your CD the other day, I smiled. Because I AM a writer and a coach and so much more.

Somehow, we will all get through this difficult time. We just need to have faith. I say this as a reminder to both of us and whoever else is listening:>

Anyhow, thank you for inspiring me to be who I am. In exposing your own vulnerability, you've allowed me to do the same.

With much gratitude,


Joie said...

Mark David ~ this column touched me immensely when first I read it and I put it aside to respond to with appreciation. Your voicing those silent whispers of writers everywhere is lending strength to writers everywhere. My own muse taunts me if I am not attentive to where it resides. And everything you say about NOT writing being as impossible as not thinking. Thanks for illuminating the path a bit further than I can see. ~ Joie

Mark David Gerson said...

Ellen: Thank you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable here and for calling in the faith to be the writer you are. We will get through this. And we'll do it, in part, by be open with each other and recognizing that we're not alone.

Joie: We all lend strength to each other. Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there. All writers have to deal with how to earn a living until they can make it writing. But it seems to me that in a bad economy, you are better off struggling to support doing what you love as doing what you despise.