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“I am done with great things and big things and great institutions and big success and I am for those tiny invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets or like the capillary oozing water, yet which, if you give them time will bend the hardest monuments of [human] pride.” William James
What a wonder our boy William is – there’s much to ponder here in our work as writers!
How often do all of us get lost in grandiose visions of what a project we’re working on might become? The “big” and mighty vision we want to express, perhaps, or the “big success” we hope and long to enjoy? We can get so caught up in all this so easily that it becomes a trap – one that stifles our creativity and limits some of the craft choices we make. And yet, wise William offers us a different, less stressful, way to work:
We can forget about all the big goals we feel we can and should to strive toward.
We can forget about the “great institutions” we hope to win recognition from.
We can forget about the big success that we crave and feel we must have.
Instead, we can pursue a different and ultimately more promising path:
We turn our focus to the “tiny invisible moral forces” that unite us all.
We can think of writing as sharing ideas and experiences “from individual to individual.”
We can think of the words and sentences we write as “so many rootlets” taking hold.
How liberating all this can be! We let go of grand goals and chasing success and just focus on our work from day to day, letting all the rest take care of itself. Instead of putting huge amounts of pressure on ourselves to be “writers,” we just write. Like water, we flow calmly and steadily, moving quietly and contentedly where our work takes us. We trust that we are going in the right direction and will get where we need to go.
What a simple, joyful, doable way to work. Let’s take the “many rootlets” approach to sharing our work and ideas as we all write on!