Nearly five years ago I received my certification as a yoga instructor. If you are familiar with yoga – and I’m talking the institution, not the physicality of it – I’m sure the title of this post tripped an onslaught of quotes and ideas. If you’re unfamiliar – and only know the physical side of the practice, well, there’s a lot more to it.
But this post isn’t about yoga.
This post is about writing.
How? What does yoga and a man repairing a steam pump have to do with writing? (see above image) The answer is – everything.
The truth about being happy is a mixture of balance, hard work, self forgiveness, and persistence. Overall, being happy is actually rather hard. It goes against most things we’ve been taught our entire lives. The world says to act one way, and our instincts tell a whole different story – and this causes struggle.
Where is a great story born from? Struggle.
As a writer I look out into the world to see where a story may lie. I people watch at the beach, or at my son’s school for my next “real” character. I read everything and anything I can get my hands on from classics like Alexandre Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo” to Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s “All You Need is Kill” and than tons of news articles, wiki posts, and random blogs.
I write/edit/plot/conceive/sketch every day.
Every. Single. Day.
Good days. Bad days. All days. Write.
On the bad days – the days I can’t seem to find the “struggle” in my story, but am consumed by it with my writing, I feel like the man above.
This writing world I am part of is a cog in a steam pump, and my job is to maintain it – even when I feel it’s hopeless and will amount to nothing. This is my “writing” life. Filled with strife, struggle, oppression, tears, sweat, and sometimes blood – it’s still mine.
In yoga we are taught the things we struggle with are what we need the work on the most. Maybe it’s understanding the sutras, or resting in some precarious arm balance – regardless the answers we’re looking for will always be on the other side of that struggle.
In writing our truth lies in the words we put on the page. Maybe today they’re not good. Maybe today they’re actually terrible. But until we accept this is our path – and that our path may not look like the paths of other writers we know, we will never find the answer. We will never know happy.
The truth about being happy is that sometimes we won’t be.
And the truth about being a writer is that sometimes we need to not be happy so we can try to be great.
So be great. Get out of you own way. Embrace your struggles. And most of all don’t be afraid to grab a wrench and keep on moving.