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Back In The Saddle

July 10, 2011

Confession time. I have been in hiding.

Shortly after my last post, my consulting practice was absorbed by Hartsook Companies, the firm that provided fundraising counsel when I was with my former employer, American Humanics. It was the right move, and I still consider myself to be self-employed. But I am no longer a sole proprietor. Somehow that aspect of the merger poked a whole in one of my tires, and I’ve let the slow leak persist.

Maybe I didn’t know how to fix it. Probably I was just too lazy. For reasons I have not yet found the time or courage to fully explore, I let the merger distract me from my blog – and from redeeming my purpose. Fortunately, I am surrounded by a small group of friends who regularly challenge my propensity to procrastinate. God is working through them to get me off my lazy butt and back to doing the work He prepared for me to do. Work that I had better be doing.

That work includes writing a memoir of one of my greatest periods of spiritual growth. I have talked about it for years. I have frequently written about writing the memoir in my journal entries. I have even made a few false starts at writing the damned thing. But there was no consistency in my efforts.

Every book I’ve read on writing says that if you want to be a writer you have to write every day.

Oh, bullshit, says the voice inside my head. They’re talking about other people. You ain’t people.

The voice sounds familiar. Could it be that my Impostor has taken on yet another facade? Oh, that Dick Lessman, he’s a crafty one! He thinks he’s protecting me from the deep disappointment I’ll feel if no one appreciates my memoir. It will take months of hard labor to produce, and I have no guarantee of a payoff. So why take the risk?

Because risk is what I am called to do.

No one is calling me to write a best-seller. I’m just called to write, and the pain of not writing has finally surpassed the pain of writing with no guarantee of success. (See, it’s not a question of avoiding pain. It’s a question of direction. Will I let the pain drag me under, or push me to the surface?)

Part of this breakthrough is the result of Steven Pressfield‘s book, The War of Art. In the past year I have seen the book referenced by three other writers: Don Miller, Chris Gillebeau, and Seth Godin. A few months ago I downloaded the audiobook from Mid-Continent Public Library and have listened to it three times since then.

My kids gave me a hard copy for Father’s Day. On the front cover is this endorsement from Esquire magazine: “A vital gem…a kick in the ass.” Just what the doctor ordered. Pressfield says that the most important thing about art (aka “redeeming your purpose“) is to work.

Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.

Why is this so important?

Because when we sit down day after day and keep grinding, something mysterious starts to happen. A process is set into motion by which, inevitably and infallibly, heaven comes to our aid. Unseen forces enlist in our cause; serendipity reinforces our purpose.

From The War of Art, pg 108 (emphasis mine)

Okay. I was beginning to warm up to the idea. But when could I write? What time of day could I set aside, consistently, to devote to my memoir?

For over ten years I have been keeping a journal, making entries more days than not, first thing in the morning. I’m almost always the first one out of bed in my household. It’s quiet and peaceful. The habit was so ingrained, it had become a security blanket. At first I thought, I can’t give that up. Then I thought, what if I did? What if I tried?

Every writer needs a good work space.

On June 9 my alarm went off at 4:30am. I got up, made a pot of coffee, fed the dog, and wrote memoir from 5-7am. I did it again June 13-17, including the day I was in a hotel room on “business.” For the next three weeks I repeated the Monday-through-Friday routine, including the 4th of July holiday. Some days the words threatened to overflow the memory banks; other days they barely trickled. How many words did I write? It doesn’t matter. The point is, I was sitting down every weekday and trying.

But I’ve decided that is not enough. Real writers don’t have weekends. They have strong ones. Am I a real writer, or a weekday wannabe?

Last weekend I wrote this post. This weekend I’m writing this one. On future weekends I might write posts to record the journey of writing memoir; or maybe keep tabs on what’s happening in life as I write the memoir. I might even include an excerpt of memoir from time to time.

Consider it war correspondence in the battle to redeem my purpose. Because that’s what it is – a constant battle. With an attitude of egolessness and service, as Pressfield suggests. Then he calls to mind the chaste and self-effacing Knights of the Round table. Knights who dueled dragons.

We’re facing dragons too. Fire-breathing griffins of the soul, whom we must outfight and outwit to reach the treasure of our self-in-potential and to release the maiden who is God’s plan and destiny for ourselves and the answer to why we were put on this planet.

The War of Art, p. 109, (emphasis mine)

We all face egocentric demons of our own design. Sometimes they scare the crap out of me, and I turn and run away. But as long as I’m still breathing I can turn and reengage. Let me tell you – it feels great to be back in the saddle.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 10, 2011 4:39 pm

    Inspiring. Thanks, richard!

  2. July 13, 2011 4:43 pm

    Good to have you back. ‘The War of Art’ recently gave me a kick in the arse as well.

  3. erichaynes permalink
    July 16, 2011 10:45 am

    Yippee-Tie-Yay! Keep on riding that bucking bronco, brother! Great post.


  1. Living By Faith « Richard M Potter on Purpose
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