Don’t Stop

I met an interesting man at a small Christmas Eve gathering.
As we spoke, I noticed that he was really listening to the things I was saying and answering thoughtfully. I was  impressed with how he described something he was doing, working in the field of animation in an innovative way. It’s not my place to further talk about what he had come up with, that’s his to share, but the way his eyes lit up when he was talking about it showed me that he was in love with what he was doing. And like all relationships, he was challenged by it it but he was not deterred. He had a wistful look in his eye as he strove to explain his work, a hint of sadness and a firm resolve that it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. He was committed to his idea and would follow through wherever it took him.

He mentioned that he didn’t know how people would respond to it and I said the only thing I knew for sure. “However long it takes, whatever people say, just keep on going. Don’t stop. It’s all about stamina.” As I stare out the window of my office right now and watch the rain coming down, I remember the old postal creed, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Deliver that idea. Don’t let anything get in your way. If you keep on going, if you vow not to stop what you’re doing, it will transform into
something you never imagined.

It takes extraordinary will and commitment to keep moving toward a goal, but it takes even more gumption to practice your craft without
an end game in sight. I’ve had many books published in the past, but these days, getting published is the furthest thing from my mind. When I decided to forego that goal, I stumbled along at first, feeling lost without a specific reason for what I was writing, but eventually I told myself, “I’m writing because I’m a writer, plain and simple. That’s what writers do.” It was all about love and it didn’t need to have a clear purpose. I loved my work and that was enough. I still write every day, at times it’s a job for hire, but a great deal of the time,
it’s not necessarily to fulfill a goal. I write because I love doing it. It
isn’t a chore. It soothes me and it stops time. Something miraculous happens when I sit down at my computer. It feels like I penetrate the screen and do my work from the inside out. It’s trance-like as words begin to dance in the air around me, my fingers tap the keys, the clock stops ticking, the words become thoughts and they fly onto the page. It’s just me, my creative mind and the page that I’m filling up with no apparent effort.

I’m not shaping my current pages to fit into any particular genre at this point and I’m not making sure the chapters are connected. I’m not checking for typos and connective tissue. I’m not thinking about where it’s going and where it’ll end up. Or if it will end up. Maybe it will morph into a book. Maybe it’ll be rewarding to read it to friends. Maybe it will give me ideas for my blog and maybe it’ll never go further than my office and no one will ever see it or hear it.

Whatever you like to do, write, read, paint, sing, dance,
cook, just get on with it. You don’t have to attach anything to it. It doesn’t have to fit into the description of being productive. It doesn’t have to please anyone else. You simply have to delight yourself and don’t stop. Think of what you’re doing as a love affair, “as constant as the Northern Star,” in the words of songstress Joni Mitchell. Be in love with yourself, fall in love with your work and be grateful for that love. When you know what you like to do and you do it, you’re one of the luckiest people in the world.