It’s all so complicated, but we make it so. Perhaps writers and artists, creatives of any kind, will recognize the idea that they can’t (won’t) get started until everything is just right. Just the right tools at hand, the right weather, the right amount of background noise (or none at all.) We somehow get it in our minds that we can’t create until everything is juuuust right. Thanks a lot, Goldilocks. I blame it squarely on her, Ms. Folktale, taking away our ability to sit in a chair too hard, sleep in a bed too soft, or eat foods that are too cold. Everything has to be just right, we heard in childhood. Seemed to make sense. Life is all about comfort, innit?
So, not writing is so much easier when I have Goldilocks to blame for my problems. Or the fact that my office is too cold, or there’s too many people in the house, or I haven’t had enough beer yet to be in that comfort zone, that sweet spot that opens and words pour through.
So, to quote a friend, “Bullshit.” The sweet spot don’t exist, it’s a myth. Successful people, not just writers, but creatives, executives, cubicle creatures, scientists, students, it all applies to them: They succeed because they worked for it instead of standing around waiting for their coffee to be the perfect temperature, their mood just right, the stars aligned, who the hell knows what the sign is that tells them it’s time to begin. Successful people just keep at it. They want to, have to, and the truly lucky ones are doing it because they are in love with it. Perhaps a degree is helpful, but how much does it mean if you never use your gift (after polishing the hell out of it since forever.)
I read an article online recently that darkened a shadow that’s lurked behind me for some time. I allowed the idea to take roost in my head that the best way for my work to be taken seriously when submitting to a poetry contest is to have MFA nestled somewhere in the bio. I looked back at previous winners and felt my sweet spot go right sour. Oh god, there’s no hope for me–or any fledgling writer–how can there be, when the “literary elites” are the ones who dictate what’s great–and publishable. I shared my ongoing fear with authors and editors whom I respect, trust, and look up to. The responses were passionate, as expected. One was particularly thrilling for the beautiful language he chose to assuage my concern. Their responses shared the same message: Don’t worry about “literary elites.” Just keep working. Great writing will always find its way to the top, no degree required. I do believe they blew my MFA shadow away into grains of sand in the wind.
But. There’s always a but. All this writing talk leads me to yet another article found on Literary Hub, shared here for your perusal. The perfect room. Another myth. What kind of moment it was when I discovered the perfect room to write in is the one I am in right now. Last week it was the library. Two days ago it was in a spiral notebook with my feet in the cold sand, sun warm on my arms, waves wandering in, not especially concerned with fledgling words. The perfect manuscript does not exist. There will always be room for one more nip, one more tuck. Sure, a really great cup ‘o joe and the worlds most comfortable pen (or laptop with silent keys) can make the writing experience easier, more pleasurable. But none of it matters if there’s no thinking, dreaming, or writing going on. I’m not known for being disciplined. I don’t think Goldilocks was, either, but one of us is going to sit in chair too hard, burn her mouth on something spicy, and put some words together that someday, somebody will really want to read. I am the perfect room.