Your Words Matter (what are you waiting for?)

mary-oliver-quote

I ripped the page above from a magazine many years ago, and framed it. It is on my wall to this day. The words touched me, particularly the last two lines. (It doesn’t even really matter that I am a firm believer in reincarnation, so the “one” life part might be debatable pour moi…the words make me feel something.) Beautiful sentiment, beautiful question.

I want to tell you, you writers, you artists, you photographers, you filmmakers, designers, and those pursuing every other creative endeavor, that your work matters. I especially want to address this post to my fellow writers, because I assume many who follow this blog are tied to the literary in some way. Your words matter.

You may be afraid to share your work. You may be hesitant to submit it to literary journals, or magazines. You may refuse to submit for publication, or even publish it on your own blog. You may not let your friends, family or critique groups read it. You may think you’re not good enough, that you haven’t anything worthwhile to say. You may not finish your work. You may not write a single word. Perhaps you feel unworthy. Perhaps you feel talentless. Perhaps you think it does not matter.

You’re wrong.

If you have the passion and drive to write (or paint, or sculpt, or whatever), then you have something worth saying, or you’ll manage to find it along the way. In a world of doubt, where creativity is sometimes stifled at the expense of happiness, or health, it is important you remind yourself again and again, that what you’re doing matters. Words have tremendous power. They are not “just words” as some people say. Words are important, books are important, art is important. Is it necessary for survival? Well, not exactly. Water, shelter, food, yes. But if you have a creative soul, you will be stifled trying to ignore it.

I used to live this way. Every weekday I went to work at a bank (nothing wrong with banks, just…not for me). Every Sunday evening I would cry. I called it the Sunday Blues. I dreaded going to work the next day. I even once, fantasized about falling down the stairs and breaking my leg to avoid going to work. Normal reaction to an upcoming work day? No. Not really. I was there over two years, aching for a life of something else. Anything else. I made good money there, but money was not enough. I’m privileged enough to acknowledge that, I realize. However, even if money is your number one focus in your reason to work, it doesn’t mean you can’t listen to your right-brained side in other areas of your life. You don’t have to love your job, or even like it. But you do have to listen to your heart at least a little bit.

Do not postpone your art. If you need to work 9-5 at the most boring, corporate job you can think of, well,  sometimes bringing home the (turkey) bacon means doing things you don’t always love to do. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create in your other hours. Do what you can. Do the best that you can. Write on the weekends, or at night. Jot down notes on napkins, and receipts. Use voice-software to get your thoughts out of your head and onto the page. Learn. Surprise yourself.

I want to dispel the notion that pursuing creativity is self-indulgent. If you choose to bust your ass working a job to pay the bills, or if you choose to be a “staving” artist to live the creative life you desire, it is no one’s business. What matters is your level of contentment with how well you are living your life. Being creative, and choosing creative work, or creative hobbies, is not indulging in childish fantasies. It is living authentically. If you are called to create, it is only doing a disservice to ignore that. It not only hurts you in the long run, it hurts others. You know why? Because you may deprive the world of your talent, your joy. So don’t do that. Don’t make the world sad. Don’t stifle your creative self.

Your words matter. You have one life, at least that you’re likely aware of. Do not waste it living a life of half-way there. Go for your dreams. Go for your goals. Beat the shit out of your fears, and prove to yourself, and everyone else that you have something to say. Ignore the naysayers, the people who doubt you, the emotional vampires, and the people who hurt you. It does not matter what they think.

Push yourself. There is no better time. There is no reason to wait. Think of how many people say they’ll “someday” write a novel, or “learn to paint” or anything else. Don’t wait. You will never regret starting.

Your life is wild. Precious. Ask yourself what you plan to do with it. And then, go out and do it.

 

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