“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” Sir Edmund Hillary*
It’s not the page we conquer but ourselves. For a long time, I left my creative writing on the back burner. While I earned my living by my pen, I was writing how-to books and brochures, not Wuthering Heights. At some point, I finally realized that the real obstacle to putting my personal writing center stage wasn’t lack of time or cash, but lack of toughness and chutzpah. I was simply too scared to put myself out there in a more self-revealing way. Ever had that feeling?
Creativity demands commitment. It was safer to fantasize about being able to do what I said I wanted to do than it was to actually sit down and do it: write and rewrite something until it was tight and polished, and then send it out. Not completing is a way of not committing, not competing, not risking anything. But as someone once said, “When you risk nothing, you risk everything.”
A state of becoming is a risk-free zone: your comfort level is high and your exposure is low. Unfinished work is filled with promise – it’s in that possibility-laden state of flux which is so exciting to fantasize about and even more fun to talk about. Perpetually working on a work-in-progress offers the illusion that your work is actually progressing. But it dissipates your energy and so there’s really no forward motion. Catching yourself at this game is an important start.
If, as Sir Edmund observes, we are each our own Mount Everest, then the skillful path is to lace on our hiking boots and just keep climbing. The only way up is up!
* With thanks to Coach Mike Tully for sharing this wonderful quote.