What is standing in your way right now?
I have been asking this very question for a long time now. I went away to Mozambique for eight days to write, giving myself the ‘time’ to do so. Prior to that I went to Tiffendale Ski Resort, where I hauled my computer out, sat in front of all the holiday makers and staff to ‘write’. Imagining myself Mary Higgins Clarke or whoever. Imagining I lived this fabulously lavish life of a writer, but nothing has ever come. I am a frequent teller of the story that books have been in my life forever. My Dad’s mom had a bookshelf behind their front door, where I would immerse myself every time we went there for Sunday lunch. Nose deep in the Andy Capp comics only surfacing to play with my sister and cousins on rare occasions. I wrote my very first ‘book’ in high school, giving it to friends to read and vaguely even remember the feedback received. I remember Lisa Sieger saying that the story was interesting but where was it going. The comprehensions submitted that were rejected out of hand (in my humble opinion) by the English teacher of the day. All of these wonderful memories exist around me and writing, I have signed up for course after course after course and the end result - no writing has been done or perhaps to be more fair one millionth of a book has been written because of some blog posts.
I have attended to some significant Kinesiology balances to shift the energy around my writing. Was it not Dr Bruce Lipton who said that if not for Kniesiology his book would still be trapped within him? I have subjected myself to hypnotherapy to uncover the magic of this book that exists within me, to no avail (sad emoji insert).
Is what is standing in my way right now, just the simple fact that the life of a writer is not nearly or even remotely as glamourous as I have made it out to be in my head? Is that what taunts me or haunts me. Do I want to write the book so that I too can stand on a stage in front of hordes of adoring fans looking out at the popular girls of yesterday saying: “See, I told you I was awesome! Shame on you for not liking me when I was at school. Well now I won’t have anything to do with you, you can just stand way back there while my bodyguards continue to fend you off as you struggle to just be able to touch the fabric of my skirt as it swishes by.” Oh the fabulous life it is to have as a writer, none of the mundane do it yourself washing of the dishes, the laundry and packing it away. Feeding the dog, the fish, and the husband. Making the bed, picking up the dog poop.
I think perhaps I should haul out the Julia Cameron Artists’ Way or Your Right to Write, or perhaps better yet. I should just write as I seem to be doing right now.
What would happen if you overcame the obstacle? More importantly, what would happen if you didn't (think broadly: emotionally, physically, financially, etc.)?
I may very well just write, stream of consciousness writing I believe is what they call my style. As I think it, I write it, and why not. It gets it on paper.
What would happen? I would most likely not pen the next great American novel, wouldn’t even know where to start. But what if, through my writing, there is a reader who is experiencing exactly them same thing I find myself so traumatised by (pause for dramatic effect and camera shot), that they themselves will draw inspiration and if not inspiration, perhaps they will not feel so alone knowing that there is indeed someone else out there sharing their very experience.
Can you reframe the most pressing current obstacle as simply a to-do list? In other words, in order to overcome this, what do you need to learn? What tasks do you need to perform? Who do you need to convince?
I have all the learning at my finger tips ala Julia Cameron and her wonderful works, Claire De Boer, Soul Writing. Hay House writing. Celebrating the authors I know personally who do not produce works the likes of JK Rowling (not that they couldn’t), but they produce work. They are published authors in their own right; they produce plays that are performed on a stage somewhere and celebrated. There are no tasks necessary other than to find myself sitting at the laptop, writing. And I believe I am the only one I need to convince that I am any good at writing. I have so many cheerleaders who have over the years encouraged me to write, told me emphatically - you should write a book. Well here I am, taking that first small step and writing.
Have you ever used an "obstacle" as an excuse not to get started? Did you regret it?
I have used many ‘obstacles’, some which just did not seem like they were an obstacle to my writing at the time. My obstacles are excuses, I am just too tired right now to write, I will get to it once I have woken up from my nap. Wake up from my nap and what to I do - I cannot write now, it is time to cook dinner for the husband. I must just quickly do this because it is so particularly important that this account gets paid right now. This even though I have looked at my diary, going “Ooh, I have nothing planned for today, I think I will finally sit down and write”. HUH, like that is about to happen.
Regrets? I made myself a promise a very long time ago that I would not live my life with regret, simply because there were so many people I knew who died so very young and it felt disrespectful not living life to the fullest. But here I am, 49 years old and still nothing published in my name. I guess that counts as a regret.
No point in harping on it though, because there is simply no time like the present. Case in point:
1. At 62, Harland Sanders created the famous Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant chain.
2. When she was 55, Arianna Huffington launched The Huffington Post.
3. Ray Kroc created the now-famous McDonald's when he was 52.
4. Who can forget that Louise Hay started Hayhouse publishing well into her 60s.
Are obstacles really just fears holding you back?
Absolutely, but fear of what?
I’m not good enough to write, who would want to read what I have to write? Surely, writing is not what someone like me does, is it?
What is the longest-running obstacle in your life?
Me, getting in the way of me. All 49 years, although I think in all fairness I cannot be blamed for the first 10 years.
What steps have you used to make progress toward overcoming it? How far have you come with it? What do you wish would happen? How would that be possible?
I have had several Kinesiology balances, done some hypnotherapy and signed up for so many courses
What is the biggest obstacle you faced in your past? Did you overcome it? If so, how? If not, why?
By far the biggest obstacle and thing that set me back the most was Dad dying. My 14 years old self went on a rampage for the next twenty years, leaving me with a rampaging 35-year-old. For the seat of my 49-year-old self I can honestly say that all those years have not been wasted. They have led me to this point in my life and I like who I am at this point in my life. Am I disappointed that I have not published anything yet? Of course I am, but who is to say that the story I am meant to tell required some life experience first so that the telling of it can be immaculate. We are not all JK Rowling, only she is.
Questions curtsey of RACHEL ASTOR