A friend recently began working with a new writing mentor, a well-known author who has been at it for over twenty years and has much to teach. It is humbling to be reminded that there is always more to learn, and yet I am aware that it works both ways. There is always more from the source of ideas, of images and words and revelation; I experience it daily in writing this blog. The creative source is boundless and endless, a reliable example of abundance. I have only to tune in, listen carefully and let myself be taken for a ride.
That there is always more I can do to hone my craft is at times inspiring, at times frustrating and depleting. It helps that I started in architecture, which is sometimes called an old man’s profession; it takes a good twenty or more years of practice before you begin to be any good at it. With writing, it’s said that you have to write 500 bad poems before you can write a good one. I’ve heard the same thing about drawing. Both refer to the requisite 10,000 hours of practice before mastery of anything that Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in “Blink.”
Since I rely on the “always more” as a source of ideas and inspiration, I’m willing to play by its rules in terms of craft. My role is to place myself somewhere between the two, a humble servant to bringing forth what is within, drawing the bucket out of the well each day for the delight of what comes up. These are the terms and conditions; this is the bargain I have struck. I think of St. Thomas’ version of a teaching by Jesus:
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within you [will] kill you.”
The inner life of spirit longs to find full expression in the outer, material world. To refuse the call is to do great damage. Rather than worry about my craft, I choose to step into that flow, to listen and receive, and to serve the message with my imagination, my voice and hands. I will go so far as to say it is my birthright as a human being: I feel most fully alive when I give myself over to that expression. In the words of the poet David Whyte:
To be human
is to become visible
what is hidden
as a gift to others.
I have written before about the inhibitions of perfectionism and about polishing the mirror, so as to see into the depths more clearly. Today, I need to remind myself of the privilege of being in the flow, the source and craft, of “always more.”