“If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by."
– F. Burton Howard
Instead of making a New Year’s resolution this year, I have decided to renew my vows. Not with my husband of 18 years, although I don’t have anything against the idea. What I’m talking about today is renewing my vows with my writing.
About seven years ago I had the epiphany that writing is a relationship, not unlike marriage, and it was time I quit flirting and made a commitment. It was time to lock into this endeavor for real, for better, for worse.
So I wrote my vows and printed them up on card stock.
The increasingly-tattered paper lives in the revolving bookshelf that sits next to my upholstered chaise—the spot where I journal every morning.
During my stalled-out times I pull out the list and find something that encourages me. During productive times I pull out the list and find something that pushes me to do even more.
But it's been some time since I really studied my vows.
Here they are:
I hereby make these vows…
· I will respect, feed and protect my creativity.
· I will honor my Muses, making neither idols nor slaves of them, but treating them as the special partners they are in my creative endeavors.
· I will honor my daily life as part of my creative process. I will not crave cafes in Paris or remote cabins in the woods, but use the people, places and things I encounter every day as inspiration. Every moment is a writing moment, if I choose to make it so.
· I will maintain fidelity to where I am right now in my creative process, knowing that I am forever evolving.
· I will set no artificial deadlines on the development of my writing, but respect the process and trust that all is unfolding as it should.
· Each day I will acknowledge my starting point and move forward. I will celebrate each bit of progress.
· I will do my utmost to stay awake and never take for granted the abundance offered up by the universe for inspiration.
· I will recognize the connection between my writing and my spiritual development.
· I will honor my introverted nature as I develop my writing abilities.
· I will honor my inspirations, and follow them where they lead without expectation.
· I will maintain honesty to myself, my voice and my creative process. In nonfiction I will be vulnerable and truthful; in fiction I will be faithful to the story, the setting, and the characters as I imagine them.
· I will not ignore my family or my responsibilities for the sake of my writing. I will not dress all in black and complain that the world just doesn’t understand artists. I will live my writing life in a balanced and organic way, striving always to be in alignment with my authentic self.
So be it, for the good of all concerned.
It also helps to remind myself that not only are my stories, essays, poems and blog posts Works In Progress— so am I. So is my creative process. So are my writing skills.
Much of what we do as writers is invisible to the outside world. I’m reminded that the important thing is that I know I am working, learning, and evolving as a writer, and to have faith that the evolution will show up in the quality of my writing. I have to believe that all is well as long as I am keeping my vows.
How about you? How have you expressed your commitment to writing? I’d love to hear about it.