So I have a spiritual adviser. I know that can be off-putting, but If it helps, you can picture me talking to Yoda. I mean, after all, Yoda was a spiritual guide for Luke and various other people who never listened to the green-skinned guru. Oh, well, we are a headstrong bunch.
My little green spiritual adviser asked if writing was getting in the way of my spiritual development. He’s unimpressed by me, which is good, because I am so damn impressive.
Is writing getting in the way of my spirituality?
Well, it makes me miserable, and since I’m a third Catholic, it counts as being beneficial. As my friend Jason Evans says, “All suffering is redemptive.”
To be clear, I’m not someone trying to get into heaven. I’m a guy whose natural inclination is to find a nice corner of hell and set up shop. I choose my suffering, and my spirituality is about me trying to suffer less.
Does writing help me suffer less?
Ouch. No. But let me continue…
You might have heard of a small film that came out in December of 2015. It’s called Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I know, weird title, right? I think it might have something to do with Yoda, but I’m not sure.
I can’t tell you how much fuller my life is because of this one movie, which I’ve not seen at the writing of this blog post. It it fills me with a dreamy kind of hope, an excitement, a wonder.
I had to accept, early on, that writing stories is a selfless act and the world is better for the stories people tell. Even when the stories are sequels spun out of a story machine who’s only aim is to make as much money as possible. Even those stories matter.
When I write and publish books, I am adding stories to the world and I don’t know what will happen. And I can’t just write books and keep them hidden. I spent twenty years doing that, and those days are over. Lucky you, my practice books won’t see the light of day. But the practice is over, and it’s show time.
Writing doesn’t help me to suffer less. That’s not the point. The writing makes me strive harder, work more, and to really push myself to the very limits of my endurance, which makes me seek a power greater than myself.
The world is better for the stories we tell. And if I have stories to tell, I have a sacred duty to tell them.
I’ve had to pray and meditate more than ever because of the writing game.
I’ve had to reach out for help because of the writing game.
I’ve had to swim through frigid oceans of screeching fear because of the writing game.
Writing has made me a better human being, but that doesn’t mean it’s made me happy. Happiness is such an American ideal. Part of me is old school, yo, as in, I’m here to do my duty. Happiness may or may not come, but honor, courage, discipline, those are what I should focus on.
So I told my Yoda all that, and he was unimpressed, as he should be, because he knows I’m clinging to the writing business.
The real danger is that I have spent a lifetime, thirty years, in pursuit of this dream. Could I let go it now? If the divine muffin came down and told me to put the pen down, could I?
Our Buddhist friends would say attachment leads to suffering. And I’m not just attached to writing, I’ve superglued it to my soul. My query letters have been etched on my bones.
So, no, I can’t let go of it. It’s too late for me to stop, even if I wanted to. Even if I could.
But this is my calling, my vocation. I’m committed, for better or worse, even when it makes me suffer and I hate it so. Even when the dreams of fame and fortune flutter away and I’m left with an Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,426,891 Paid in Kindle Store and even worse, an Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,552,680 in Books. And no, I don’t want to see the Top 100 in books, thank you very much.
So, I’ll keep writing books. I’ll continue to suffer, since I like it for some odd reason, and I’ll continue to fight fear.
Because I am Jedi, like my father before me. And the work of writing stories matters more than my own happiness.
May The Force be with you. Always.