This year has been the most soul-bearing time of my life. I wrote and published a novel.
I couldn’t imagine anything topping the sense of empowerment that flooded my awareness the day I gave myself permission to start. That was only the beginning.
The subsequent emotional cycle of getting to the end was a spiral of aeons within centuries within decades within years, well—you get the picture. It felt like vast amounts of time stuffed into my minuscule pocket of imagination that was suddenly too insignificant to conceive of the next word, let alone a whole story.
I’m all for new beginnings; the only problem is they always have endings attached. My experience these past twelve months has taught me in the kindest and most unrelenting way that embracing the cycle of beginnings and endings is a learned behaviour. It’s an attitude of facing into the wind of imagined failure and being thrilled by the way it blows hair out of your eyes clearing your vision for farsighted inspiration.
This adventure has been an astonishing paring away of old patterns, notions and long-held beliefs about myself and my world. Writing a novel has been the container of more effective personal growth than the other paths of self-inquiry I’ve trod.
Beginnings are my way of skipping over endings. It’s an illusion, of course, but as a measure of self-protection, it works a treat! If I don’t end, you can’t judge me. Like many creativists, my psyche is wound around and through my creations so that to see one is to see the other. That’s scary stuff.
If you want a challenge, practise being kind to yourself. The more skilled I became with showing myself kindness, the more ruthless I was about getting my backside into the chair and my fingers on the keyboard.
Scared about being too stupid to start writing? Write a letter to yourself in the voice of your perfect manifestation of kindness. The language She will use will shock you! The kindest encouragement looks nothing like you think it will. It makes no effort to blow smoke into any orifice.
Sure that your draft manuscript is utter rubbish? Send it to your editor. If you are lucky like me, your editor’s voice is very similar to your perfect imagined manifestation of kindness. My greatest surprise was that upon receiving critique from my editor, I was excited, enthused, hungry for more!
When I get curious about my core motivations and sink into vulnerability—that’s when my work flows; my words capture the story in my imagination and splat it onto the page with glorious abandon.
Failure is a construct of your psyche. It is the way you keep yourself safe based on all the events of your life (real and imagined). Guess what? It’s actually like a slobbery dog in a dragon costume. Just writing that makes me shudder, but that could be due to my bone-deep aversion to slobber.
Visualise what your success looks like.
Now, visualise what your failure looks like. Scratch that—you already have that picture engraved in your mind.
Do you see? They are both figments of your imagination.
This has not been a lonely year. I have surrounded myself with a community of kindred spirits. Never has my place in the universe, my connection with everything been more palpable. (Can you tell that I write Magical Realism?)
My best takeaway from this year as I sit here basking in the glow of a newly-published novel is this: embrace the endings with as much enthusiasm as you feel in the beginnings. How did I manage this? I nibbled my way through the cycles. I focused on the next breadcrumb on the path. Step by step, nibble by nibble.
The never-ending endings of living a life.