What legitimates us as writers?
One of my students recently submitted an essay on this question, or the variation: when can I call myself a writer? He took four approaches: the professional, the published, the trained, the psychological. Is it when you’re earning money, simply published, having taken a course such as a Creative Writing MA or PhD, or is it a matter of intrinsic estimation; something you know about yourself?
It is when we feel legitimate as a writer that we call ourselves writers. Sometimes that certificate, or publishing deal, or acceptance for a magazine, are the little stones we step along while we’re crossing the river of self-doubt. What is clear from research is that those who call themselves writers (or the artists who call themselves artists) are the ones that thrive. As Sylvia Plath said, ‘your worst enemy is self doubt.’ For Natalie Goldberg: ‘doubt is torture.’
Sometimes the feeling comes as a calling. Continue reading
This mind itself, bound by its knots—if one lets go,
There is no doubt: it will be free.
What is this concept self-awareness? A simple response (I won’t say ‘answer’) came this morning as I was pondering the question during meditation—or rather, trying not to ponder on it, which, as Einstein attested to by taking a notepad into the shower, is often the way.
What I thought was this: Self-awareness as is it practiced in modern Western society is a concept that combines a very narrow definition of ‘awareness’ (a critical rumination aimed at improvement and progress of the ‘self’ project) coupled with a very narrow definition of what that self is (generally the social self).
I suppose that’s evident to many—it’s certainly at the heart of the 21 Soul process – and it’s probably something I’ve known before. What was different this time, however, was how I reached that response—through a shift in not only knowledge, but also (bodily) behaviour and feeling
An answer of sorts came in fragments over the last few weeks, almost like a small puzzle that I was, without realising it, putting together. Continue reading