In being a creative, doubting yourself is death. Plath said in one of her thousands of journal entries that “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” So, no doubting Self. Ever. This is more than some cheesy manifesto or declaration for me. Another of my favorite authors, as many or probably all of you know, is Jack Kerouac. One of the first bombs of urgency that he projects at us comes in the inaugural chapters, “The only people for me are the mad ones…” Mad people don’t ever doubt themselves, they just do what they do, and with mad beauty, mad effulgence and placement. Today is Friday, but not for me, as I work tomorrow. I’m working today at the winery but I only feel a push, a creative shove that will keep me creating and walking around the vineyard blocks staying motivated, decided. And what have I decided? To create, teach creatively, share what I’ve learned creatively. Frankly, doubting yourself is death to any forward. I’m not hoping to be a motivational anything. Certainly not “speaker”, or … anything. I’m just sharing what I learn. THAT, is my pedagogy. Positivity is not optional. The creative act is contingent upon a dominant positive and yay-saying disposition that visible in all creative work.
My 3 pages today, sharing what I learn as I learn it. Just now, as I walked in, I saw a cluster of grapes going through veraison, just the beginning stages, very beginning steps toward ripeness. In my head I thought, “I need to get inside, clock in!” But what I did, just stop, enjoy that moment and focus on and enjoy the varying shades of green, deep purple and light purple, that purplish-pink, light red. I took a couple breaths for me. Yes, I’ve written about breathing before, but those breaths just outside this building (house, actually), made me feel strong, confident, dousing doubt in weight more mightier than itself. It was like those burning stars Kerouac talked about in that part of ‘Road’. Burning, Roman candles, wanting everything right then and there. The feeling followed me in here— and I sit here a creatively animalistic mammoth of this new teaching mode.
Another lesson from this morning: Graduating. The act of graduating is not just in school or academic contexts. You move from one page to another, one geography to next, moving upward hopefully and not in an exhaustive lateral. Two students of mine, past ones from just this last Spring, are currently at their school of transfer, UC Santa Cruz. They’re excited, you can tell, eager to start the new Newness before them. I know what that feels like and I want it again and again, again, and I can get that, I tell myself. No doubt, I can get that. The next step is teaching myself to teach more creatively and go as far outside the conventional box as your mind will let you. And this mind will let me do whatever I want. It’s my biggest ally, supporter, like a wandering cheerleader entangling and untangling my anxieties and insecurities. At this new age of 37, in fact, it’s quite eager to hunt down and kill the self-doubt if it ever steps into sight or some subtle tangibility. It’s more than an enemy to my 37 mind, it’s a bouldering threat. But we’re not afraid. And, if you feel something coming, some doubt or challenge, or collision, get in front of it. You’ll love how you feel afterward.
I know, “You said you weren’t going to try to be some motivational anything…” I’m not. And if I sound that way I apologize. I’m advocating a complete absence—no, VOID, a total VOID—of fear. Fear and doubt work concertedly, often. If not all the time. You feel a fear of something, then you doubt yourself letting the fear trample your ardor. Or, the doubt morphs into a ravenous fear. Just stand up to it, all of it. What’s the worst that can happen? You fall down, you lose once or twice, or a dozen times, but you again step and step, move forward. Again, please understand: THIS IS JUST SOMETHING I’VE LEARNED. I’M NOT A SPEAKER ON THIS SUBJECT. But I can share. I’m a sharer. Maybe an over-sharer, yes, but I’m intrepid to the point of not caring, just putting my thoughts out there knowing my inner-pushes and motivations are to help someone that feels self-doubt.
Plath and Kerouac both had their doubts and troubles, demons and challenges, blocks and bumbles. But they created. They brought themselves out of their nay-saying maelstroms and wrote, put books together, added to their stories with unbridled withstanding. I learn ever time I read ‘Road’, or ‘Bell Jar’ or some other Plath work. This is a dance, with me and literature, my story and paginated steps back and forth and teaching myself that I can teach myself and learn with more vocality than I did when in college. I will graduate. Soon. Be in my travels, sharing more positive pulses and peregrinations with anyone who’ll listen.
If this were a Pass/Fail course, I wouldn’t even see the word ‘Fail’. What is that, anyway? Who invented that bloody word? Like those grapes outside I come into maturity, finally, at age 37. I’m not old, but I’m definitely into life, deep enough into the story where I can’t and won’t and don’t see failure. At all. I’m like the cluster outside that’s standing in the way of aggressive sun rays, saying “You don’t hurt me, you can’t burn me, you only add to me…” Or something like that… Lost my train of thought, enjoying a couple breaths at this desk and staring out at the vineyard. Oh yeah.. the Pass/Fail thing… yeah, who’s to say what’s a failure? You have all the time in the world to get what you want. Yes, tomorrow’s not promised, I get all that. But I don’t think like that. The urgency is here with me, and that’s enough.
Enjoying the steady, slow, accommodating beginning to my day, with the outside vines, inside this house with my coffee, no ringing phone, my projects for the day cued up. The day teaches me something else, even more crucial in value than the breathing outside next to my car: ACKNOWLEDGE YOU’RE ALIVE. ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU CAN GET OUT OF YOUR CAR, BY A VINEYARD, AND BREATHE. Yes. Like I’ve said and written on my blog I don’t know how many times— ‘You know how many people in America would kill for a view like this from their desk?’ True, so I need to slow down. I offer you do the same. Just try it. Move a little slower. Don’t worry, the self-doubt and fear won’t catch you. If anything, I’ve just recently found, this makes you more impenetrable as a person, as a writer and creator. This day has also taught me that you can’t create when you’re negative, or in a mood or funk. Last night, a disagreement with someone only weighed on my thinking, and I tried to write but only paginated word-sewage. I hated what I wrote. In fact, I deleted the whole piece, close to 500 words and I never do that. Enjoy the steady, smile, be positive, and enjoy your writing fly and you away with it.
Goals… I am in no way an authority to talk about goal attainment. Goals, I only just the other week developed a methodology which makes goal satisfaction more seamlessly embraceable. So I won’t even write about my “methods”, if they’re even “methods”, but I will say play with your own methods… see what works for you. Goals are great. They’re there to touch, to enjoy when you reach them. In fact, if you have some goal obtainment practice you want to share with me, believe me I’m all ears, eyes, senses and thinking. You teach me, you share with me, I’d be timelessly indebted!
‘On The Road’ taught me to just go. Don’t think, just go. Do. Overthought is writer-death I always share with students. And it is. It’s goal-death as well. Just bloody try. You won’t fail. In fact, what others so hastily tag as failure is really character assembly, and addition to Personhood and thought fortitude. Sal and Dean had destinations but more importantly they had a penchant for the journey, the travel, the Road. They were high on ‘The Road’. The Road was the pursuit, not some city. As with writing and being a creative, we do have our deadlines and projects, the manuscript and tangible we rush to complete, but it’s the process and practice that keeps us positive, keeps us mentally live and more immune to self-doubt and fear, those horrible pessimism anchors that love submission. Reminds me of this George Bernard Shaw quote for some reason, where he says, “You see things and say, WHY? But I dream things that never were and say, WHY NOT?” Just get up and go, right? No meditation or measurement, just act, just create, just run, just write, just live. Overthought in many realities is the offspring of self-doubt. So, no thank you.
Happiness is the path… I remember a friend in college, undergrad, fellow English major always used to say this. Think it was a quote from Buddha, I think. But, I’ve always remembered it, sometimes say it to self while driving Dry Creek Road to work. I’ll get out there and walk, let the day and the vineyards teach me more. I have more to learn if I’m to forward as a strong creative. When out there, I’ll take pictures of what the vineyards tell me. I’ll let the atmosphere and stage’s character instruct me. I have no reason to doubt the self if the vineyard’s promulgating me, supporting my curiosities and scholastic rhythms. I know graduation’s near. Where am I transferring? The world. The whole planet. Writing in spots you wouldn’t think to write… a bus stop in Zurich, a field in Norway, a café in Egypt. Travel isn’t a goal just to be a goal and to travel, just to tell people something trite like ‘oh I travel a lot for work’. Annoying when people say that, like they’re so burdened by the flights and the hotels when they know so many would love to experience what they are. I’m on a tangent, I feel… I’m just motivated for graduation, to my next campus, passing to next stage— out there.
After my walk in the vineyard with a co-worker, taking dozens of stills of clusters and the canes, the rows and soil, irrigation lines, I’m not just ‘moving’ upward, it’s become a sprint. And, I just realized, maybe this goes beyond instructional and matriculated containment, maybe it’s life, the life of a writer and style of life (not necessarily ‘lifestyle’) of a truer than true writer. Thinking and brainstorming on a separate sheet of paper from the Composition Book and I know that my first travel is close, that assurance and coated affirmation, coated in assurance from what I see around me in the vineyard and this very office, that what I want is right there. To live madly, having any self-doubt so far at my 6 that it dissipates, halts in any memory or semblance of existence. The walk was the topper, icing on cake, cherry atop, whatever cliché you insist be inserted. It’s there, here, now, with me. Like visual music and poetry. We can all have what we want, all of it, I’m just now learning.
You know who, or what, or more so who is the motivational speaker today? This vineyard. That one across the street from us. All the patches and stretches and blocks I saw driving to work. It’s more than motivating, or “inspirational” for me. It’s the Road, it’s the Roman candle, it’s a story that doesn’t stop. Happiness with exponents with exponents. Today’s been like that day in the semester where you know graduation is near and you want to conclude the term stronger than you have the others. You’re strong. The feeling is a cosmic intoxicant. you can’t get enough and you wouldn’t if you could. In fact, the thought of it leaving you or getting your fill frightens you, but emboldens you. You’re going to pass to the next campus and stage in your self-education and edification in ways that you’ll yourself want to study, repeat and repeat repeatedly. You’ve acknowledged that you’re alive, your life is being written, by you— Before you say anything, I’m not in motivational mode. Not at all. I’m in assurance mode, or affirmation morphology, speaking to myself and sharing what I’ve learned and what I’m realizing about myself and what I’m capable of, with you.
Creativity is life. My life. If you write or draw, take pictures, make music, make wine from the grapes out there, or express yourself with and/or through anything, then you’re lively with an alive liveliness for which you should compliment yourself. Keep creating. you’re far from that doubt, now. “Huh,” I just thought to myself, I may have a goal strategy now. And if not a rock-solid strategy then certainly a thought of one. That’s a start, right? I’m passed what was, forgetting it completely no, but moving past. It’s part of the writer’s past, which is essential otherwise I’d have no present nor future. We creatives ramble, which is precisely what I’m doing right now, a consequence of condensed inspiration, the atmospheric nudges from vineyards, views of vineyards. Always coming back to those grapes, the canopies, the leaves and extending canes. There’s life out there, self-life, self-education, my newest self sense.