Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Thanks, Alan"

"Be brave enough to live life creatively." That quote, from actor Alan Alda, is on a plaque in my study. And it strikes a strong chord these days.

With the serious economic struggle our nation is suffering, thoughts of abandoning my writing to seek any job that provides a regular paycheck is a nagging temptation. No matter how much I believe in my work, the pile of bills on my desk weigh heavily. As a writer, there is no such thing as a regular paycheck. Hard work is not always rewarded by an editor, no matter how good I think my efforts are.

The upside to spending life as a creative person is what keeps me going in the face of life's realities. Summed up by Alda again as he says, "you have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition." An artistic journey is both frightening and exhilarating. Those emotions inspire me in a way that is difficult to explain to someone who pursues a more stable lifestyle. You get there, I quote Alda, "by not quite knowing what you're doing." Yes, the path is uncertain, but the rewards cannot be equalled. Yes, there is a freedom to it which 9-to-5ers don't enjoy, which I do appreciate but would sacrifice if absolutely necessary. But that's not the draw. I don't seek publication to become rich. Certainly, the security of wealth is preferred to financial strife but that's not what motivates me, either. The answer just can't be found down a road of security.

This quotation has been hanging on my wall for years. Alan Alda is an actor I admire, and this particular example of his wisdom never fails to impress, no matter how many times I read it. Whenever I have serious doubts about my situation, or my ability to succeed, it is his last two lines that never fail to put my mind back into frame - to take the risks and continue the work. "What you discover will be wonderful, what you'll discover will be yourself." No better reason than that. Thanks, Alan.

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