In Yoga, detachment is the practice of withdrawing the senses from stimulation. This works on many levels. At most basic – for instance closing your eyes – it allows you to go deeper within yourself and simply be a witness to your body in the pose. Not to judge, or compare yourself to your neighbor whose bakasana defies the laws of gravity, but to let the pose come naturally into your body all the while accepting, even embracing, your limitations. On a bigger picture level, it’s about relinquishing control. Not giving a person, place or thing so much importance that when your desires aren’t met it causes you suffering.
Ah, about that bigger picture stuff…
In writing, at least for me, detachment means letting go of desired outcomes. Easy? Um, no. I’ve been struggling with revision – and by struggling I mean completely paralyzed with fear about going back into my manuscript and making changes. Maybe it’s that I hypnotized myself into believing that my first draft was actually a finished novel (HA!). Maybe it’s that once I start playing and picking and killing my darlings I’m worried the whole thing will unravel and I’ll be left with…nothing. Whatever it is, I’ve been avoiding my 3 ring binder like it’s going to grow teeth and devour me.
Because I have absolutely no control over the million dollar question…will my work be picked up by a publisher? And if not, are the hours, days, weeks, months, even years I put into a project worth it?
This is where I’m trying like hell to practice detachment. My writing has brought so many wonderful experiences and people into my life but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping and ultimately working toward having something more concrete to show for it. There’s no secret handshake, no list of steps that will ultimately lead you to that book (or books) on the shelf with your name on it. There’s hard work and more hard work. And absolutely no guarantees. Why, oh, why do any of us pursue this?
I’m not sure I have a simple answer to that. And that’s okay. So for now, all I can do is take a breath, close my eyes (momentarily at least) and open that 3 ring binder to begin yet another journey along my writing path. Not worrying about the outcome, but focusing on writing the best book I can.
How about you? What keeps you going on your writing journey?