When Resistance Means Plowing Forward
There’s something most people don’t know about me. What I really want to do is write fiction. I’ve known this since I was a kid. It was one of the reasons I went to law school. I wanted to write courtroom dramas, not practice them in real life.
What you also might not know is that I have a love-hate relationship with writing. I suspect most writers do. It’s the most accessible of all endeavors and the most challenging. It calls up discipline, doubt, worth, and vulnerability.
I recently decided it’s time to work on my fiction writing. I signed up for a writing group that appeared in my inbox. The timing was perfect. Work is slower in December. I would have no excuse not to write each week.
I’ve been in writing classes and groups before, but this class was different. I found my teacher. Like a good spiritual guru, she was not lovey-dovey, but tough, to-the-point, and just what I needed. With her exacting critique, writing was no longer this untouchable, larger-than-life struggle. It was something I could master over time with technique and focus. All of this came in only a few email exchanges.
In preparation for class, I ordered the recommended books. Expedited shipping. I was surprised to find ripped Amazon packaging on my doorstep. My books had been stolen, despite living in a secured building. Some thief was also honing their writing skills this holiday season. Bah humbug.
This incident didn’t discourage me. What did, however, was going to Barnes & Noble to purchase the books at The Grove on a Sunday afternoon. Little did I know Dancing With the Stars was being taped LIVE in the courtyard at the precise moment I arrived. Hashtag: LAProblems. I managed to escape the mayhem with one book in tote.
I emailed the group members my pages for the initial round of edits. I included a friendly introduction. Nothing. No one emailed back edits or even a Welcome. Hmm okay. Maybe it was so bad they didn’t even know what to say.
When I showed up, everyone asked why I had not sent my pages. Wha?! I emailed them. You didn’t get them? No. I had also failed to print hard copies for the group for discussion.
Quick Timeout: For those of you that don’t know me, I am a highly responsible person. I was that kid in school you hated because I always turned in my homework on time.
Something was clearly amiss here.
I began to question if I was supposed to be in the group. Was I using it as a distraction? Maybe I should be focusing on other things. When things are meant to be, shouldn’t they just flow? At the same time, I was getting a lot out of the group. My mind was being blown and I could see real progress in such a short amount of time in my writing.
I let all these conflicting thoughts whirl around as I set out for Week Two. This time, my email was successful. Generous feedback was received. Pages printed. I was ready. I switched on some generic ambien no rx tunes and set out on my hour drive to class. It wasn’t until Siri said, “You have arrived at your destination” that I realized I had put in the city, not the address! You’ve got to be kidding.
The address was in an email on my computer. And this week I didn’t bring my computer because I was sooo prepared. I found the teacher’s email address on my phone and shot out a quick email in hopes she would see it and email me the address. Undeliverable. The server is not recognizing your email address. WTF?
I pulled over into an unidentified neighborhood in Thousand Oaks. I made a lifeline call to my friend that talks me off cliffs regularly. I needed someone to witness this madness. Having her as a mirror I relaxed. Worse case scenario, I would spend the day in Malibu.
I sat quietly in my car for a moment. What is really going on here? Should I just go shopping in Malibu and forget all of it?
And in that moment, I put a stake in the ground. I want to be in this class today. I want to change peoples’ lives through story. This is what I want. Damn it.
I put the car in drive. It mysteriously took me on a series of about four turns. I was stunned when I saw the house, evidenced by the cars parked out front. Only 20 minutes late. Not bad for making a life-altering declaration.
You may be wondering the obvious question: Why all the resistance?
It took me a few days to get perspective.
All of those incidences were working out years of resistance towards writing fiction. My attitude towards writing had quickly shifted with this class, but I still had to clean out the cogs in my wheel. In other words, resistance may show up due to a momentum of past energies on the subject that are no longer a part of your current reality.
Resistance is also for the sake of clarity: Do I want this, or do I not want this? It strengthens our desire in one direction or another. It gave me the opportunity to declare emphatically that this is what I want. What a gift. In a different scenario, say going to knitting class, moving to Cleveland, or buying a Parakeet, it may have done the opposite. What a gift.
If the resistance is bigger than your desire, you’ll know and turn around. Ultimately it is your desire that will determine your direction. A few years ago, the same incidences would have made me throw up my arms and quit. Not now. My desire was too strong.
You may be thinking all this clarity cleared everything up for me. Week Three rolled around. I go to print out my pages before heading out the door (with the address programmed in my phone).
Error. Out of paper.
I laughed. I guess I’m also learning to drop perfectionism when it comes to writing. I grabbed my laptop and headed on my way. It was a great day.