We are almost there.
The charmer known as 2020 is almost out the door. At last, at last!
Reflect on the year for one second.
Are you filled with a sort of wet doughnut in your gut? A churning feeling that something fearful this way comes… again?
Like, there’s more work ahead and the digging is going deeeeep.
As Santa knows, I get in a lot of trouble, especially when I gleefully and confidently tell aspiring authors that “all first drafts are crap.”
Cue toxic gut feeling now, now, now.
For the majority of creative folk (you), our creative projects are fragile and tender. Yet we regularly pretend that our creations can withstand brutal truths and other people’s opinions.
What’s delicious about the REAL truth orbiting our creative endeavors is that all creation starts in the dark.
And first drafts, first steps, first words, first ideas are all born and raised in the darkness of:
“What the f-word am I doing?!”
“No one is going to care, anyways!”
“My goodness. What was I thinking to even start this stoopid thing?!!”
Cue phenomenal heart feeling of freedom, fact and fun.
Welcome to the Work!
There’s freedom in giving ourselves a break when we’re launching a new project or goal.
Let us accept that a first draft is a tangible beginning – and massive achievement – not our end or final score.
Here’s fact not fiction, storyteller.
The creative undertakings we get fun-fun-DONE rather than burned-and-buried are projects that fill us with enthusiasm, playfulness and a deep sense of purpose and meaning.
Is creative life always a walk in the park? No!
Does every day feel like playtime when you’re pumping out ideas, words and pages? No!
But the Work – what’s inside you, calling to you, asking to be called forth from you (for us!) – is what transforms risk, fear and confusion into reward, fun and courage.
Taking score too soon is when we look back at a year, for example, and deem all 12 months terrible.
Won’t argue with you, kind heart — this year was a tortuous and criminal witch to billions.
For the majority of us, though, taking score as we look back and calculating our wins at the
Work as a giant ole’ tally of 0 is neither accurate nor wise.
Are you a coffee lover? If so, you know the deliciousness of coffee percolating. Double, double toil and trouble.
There are stages to the Work. Times we “write on air” and bang around in the dark light of our imagination: a place we are fearless and free from failing.
Then there are the times we are ready to write or speak, and we go.
We sit down. We stand up. We shut up and start writing and doing. And a lot of times (all of those times?) our first words and phrases are garbage.
“Garbage” being a mix of meat and manure. (Bear with me.)
And what grows in manure, party people of 2020? That’s right.
Manure puts meat on the bones of your Work. And soon that bone baby will sit up, stand up and dance.
Positively absolutely everything, eventually, grows, transforms and blossoms into something wise and new thanks to soil and sunshine.
As you look back on 2020 and look forward to 2021, stay mindful of how you rate your creative endeavors.
I detest clichés unless they’re better than anything I could say: it’s the journey not the destination.
If you didn’t complete a project this year, you’re at a different stage of the Work. Celebrate that reality. You’re on the path. Take another step. Keep going. You’re getting there. One step at a time, Frodo.
Have a first draft that smells like a sh*t show? Great! Commit to growing the garden you’ve tilled and planted. Plan on picking tasty crops when the season is ripe.
Above all else, Story Sister and Beacon Brother: be kind to yourself and your creations.
That lovely inner girl or boy of yours just wants to play, play, play and show off their creations and Joy.
Creative Work, no matter what that looks like for you now and in the future, is what adds purpose and meaning to our lives.
The Work inside our hearts and heads demands a new kind of scorecard: hope, truth, fact.
Have hope in the future. Stay true to what you’ve learned and want to share. And believe, deeply (please) that your Work loves you back. That’s a fact.
You have a true-and-tender partner in this life and absolutely this coming year: your Work.
As an artist you assume the creative risk and fear alone but you are never alone every time you sit down, stand up and shine more Light into this brave new world.
Happy New Year! We made it.
I raise my glass to your first draft, your first steps and a new scorecard for all of us in 2021.
♥ Shannon ♥