Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Publish and be damned 

I can see I’m going to have to change my habits if I want to escape from the continual bind of believing I haven’t got the time or the inspiration to blog any more regularly than I've been managing of late. Perhaps I should try the publish and be damned approach – and if that means half-developed ideas, unfinished and edited, well, so be it. It’s only a blog, after all.

I heard a fascinating and inspiring talk by Preethi Nair yesterday, all about having a dream, and having enough belief in oneself to make it happen, come what may – something Preethi did in a highly unconventional and astonishingly creative way. She tells the story of how she published her first novel and went on to land a three-book deal with Harper Collins here. There's so much I could say, inspired by her story, but as ever time and space - and my own muddled head - seem to conspire against me.

The session – which was presented at work in the form a Masterclass - wasn’t all one-way; the audience had work to do as well. One of the exercises was about writing out our own dreams – work or personal, small or large (but the larger the better). We spent some time individually writing down a description of our desired end state, in as much detail as possible, and in the present tense, as though we had already reached our goal. I struggle with this every time; I’ve NEVER been able to envision, let alone articulate, a clear end state.

But even though I get hung up on stating a clear tangible purpose, I can at least begin to imagine the environment in which I’d like to be fulfilling that purpose - whatever it is. That at least has some clarity, and I’ve articulated parts of it, one way or another, many times in these virtual pages. There are some common themes – a house with character and history; a location close to nature (ideally coastal, or close mountains, or better still close to both) with opportunities for long solitary walks, perhaps accompanied by dogs – but although I can describe the surroundings, I can never latch on to a purpose; never define clearly just what I’d be doing in those surroundings. Although writing and photography are obvious possibilities, they are activities, not results. I don’t have a novel to write or any other kind of story to tell. The abstract idea appeals, but the essence is missing.

By chance, a question popped into my head as I rode to work this morning. If I didn’t attain that vision, poorly defined though it may be, would that be a failure? The answer came immediately, and surprised me. No; that lifestyle vision was never an end in itself, it was only the means to an end.

What is the end? This is where articulation again becomes difficult. What those surroundings would provide is time and space – for thought, for reflection, for exploration of the inner and outer landscapes, and ultimately for communication. Which takes me full circle to where I came in with this post.

But even if the end state is still unclear, I want to hold on to what I’ve glimpsed of it so far. Let Preethi’s words from her first novel explain:
“… - I would like to save you twenty years and tell you what I have learned about hopes and dreams: if you suppress them, you pollute a clean river with fear, regret and disappointment, and that makes it very difficult to swim and find the place which is home.

I will also tell you another thing about the magic of hopes and dreams: at any point along a journey, the day you decide to take back responsibility for your actions and put your trust and faith not in fear but back in yourself, those hopes and dreams will come flooding back and the belief and the energy that charges them will take them forward to a place that is home.”

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