Sunday, March 30, 2008

My body speaks my mind

I may have some interesting news regarding Amazon to report later on today or next week, but for the moment I need to write about how I am feeling. I always find it difficult to really get sufficiently into the body to be able to interpret its signals into words, and find myself relying on books to do this for me - books such as Louise Hay's 'You Can Heal Your Life' or the wonderful 'Your Body Speaks Your Mind' by Debbie Shapiro. Both are excellent books, but Debbie's I find is much more grounded and uses language that is far easier to understand and less flowery - phrases such as 'who or what is being a pain in the neck' for example for someone who is suffering from neck pain.

Neck pain as it turns out, is one of several symptoms that I am experiencing right now, as well as a sore throat and acute constipation. More squeamish readers may like to find another site to go to now!

Debbie says though on page 151 of her book, "that our relationship with defecation is indicative of our relationship with 'our own s***' - our inner pain and darkness - how easily we accept and let go, or if we cling and hold on." Sometimes I feel as if I have been holding on all my life, to so much pain, and there has been a lot in my short life - the pain of losing my father just before my 16th birthday, the pain of my brother leaving home when I was 13, the pain of my sister's illness, the pain of losing my mother just before the millennium, the pain caused by various jobs, the pain of Coran's situation which I have so far never spoken of on here, but at the moment, the greatest pain I feel is the constant conflict between the need to live in the real world and pay the bills by going to work four days a week, and the need to follow my heart and do what I love by writing.

I know that I am not alone in this, and Grumpy Old Bookman paints a thoroughly depressing picture in this regular column on the last but one page of the April edition of Writers News. He cites an essay written by photographer Brooks Jensen entitled 'What it means to be an artist'. What Jensen has to say though could as Grumpy points out (and he lives up to his name admirably in this particular column) just as easily apply to writers.

Basically what Jensen has to say is that it is pretty much a waste of time having aspirations of artistry, and you had better face the fact now that no matter how hard you study or how much work you put in, you will "NEVER, EVER SELL A PIECE OF ARTWORK (WRITING) FOR ANY PRICE, TO ANYONE, AT ANY TIME." This may be an exaggeration of course, but when I look honestly at my own life, actually up until this point he is right - I have never sold one single piece of anything that I have written - sure I have had plenty of things published on the Internet and in one or two magazines, but I have not been paid for any of these things, and neither have I been paid in the true sense for publishing my book, but instead I paid them.

Jensen paints a depressing picture of artists (writers) whom having qualified, are pressured by the family and friends to get out there and acquire a 'real job'. The implications of this he said (and I can really relate to this one), are profound: "You will spend no less than forty hours a week (32 in my case) doing something you dread in order that you may have your evenings, weekends, and a few precious weeks of vacation each year in which to create your artwork (writing) and have meaning and purpose in you life".

The rest of it is just too depressing for me to state here, but it does not get any better. This is sadly the reality that tens of thousands of would-be writers the world over have to live by. I know this as I 'speak' to them virtually every day on the Internet. While it does bring some
degree of comfort to know that I am not alone in feeling this way, I am still constipated and suffering from a sore throat and stiff neck because of it (what a pain in the arse and the neck). With regard to the constipation though, it occurs to me that I have no right really to expect anything else, when I constantly complain about what a bum deal we authors get !

With regard to the neck though, this has been an ongoing and occasional problem for me for months now, if not years, and one that I had previously just put down as an occupational hazard caused by too much computer work. Debbie Shapiro states "that the neck forms a natural cut off point between the head and the rest of the body - a bridge between the head and the heart, or the absolute and the relative. It is the place where a mind-body split most often manifests itself, especially if the two-way communication between the intellectual mind and the feeling heart is in any way conflicting."

She goes on to say (on page 113) "that if we have a stiff or painful neck are we seeing only our own point of view? Are you feeling prejudiced or resistant towards someone? Are you becoming narrow minded in your attitudes? Or is someone being a 'pain in the neck', perhaps by asking you to look beyond yourself? A stiff neck also limits the amount of feeling that can be expressed from within. Are you holding back your feelings? Are they too strong to express? When you cannot move your neck freely this indicates stubbornness and rigidity. What is needed to ease your neck? Is something strangling you, do you feel unable to move? A stiff neck may also indicate an inability to make a decision - not knowing which way to turn."

Well, no surprises there then. Regular readers of this blog will know that this is pretty much (especially the last bit) how I have been feeling for some time now - in fact, ever since I returned to work. The question is though, what am I going to do about it? The pain as always, is caused by own resistance towards change and the need to move forwards. I know what I need to do - cut my hours to three days a week, or find a more flexible job, but because I enjoy what I do and I have got used to the routine, I continue with things the way that they are by kidding myself that I cannot afford to do anything else.

This is madness and it has to stop. Every day I go to work knowing what I need to do and intending to speak to my boss and put the wheels in motion, but it never gets done. I was pleased the other day when my Assistant Manager said they would offer me more money rather than let me leave, but in reality there would be little they could do to stop me were I that determined, and at this stage I really do have to think of myself and follow my own heart. It is becoming obvious that if I don't, I will continue to wither away making myself and everyone around me more and more angry, and more and more miserable until there is nothing left. If I allow things to get this far then that will be the end of any writing aspirations anyway, as it will have been 'knocked out of me' good and proper and all the creativity will be stifled and gone, just like it was towards the end of my time at my previous job.

I will not allow things to get to this stage again before I take action. Yesterday (and this may be why the neck is feeling a little better today) I took decisive action and applied for that job with the National Trust. I worked in the same shop as a volunteer for six months and so know and get on very well with the shop manager and her paid staff. I also know and get on well with the ladies in the servery, who would from time to time be assisting me. Perhaps more importantly though, I know I can do the job, and do it well, and it would much better for me. The 11am start would give me time to ring some book stores every day before I went to work, and the 5pm finish would enable to be home earlier to relax and enjoy longer evenings at home. More importantly than all of that though is that I would once again be free to follow my hearts desire. As for the money - I just remember the name of that famous book written by someone whose name escapes my memory - 'Do what you love and the money will follow'.

1 comment:

Mick Rooney said...

Here is Amazon Corporate's response in the past hour to the latest shenanigans. Everythings all right, coz their 'doing it for the customer'!

No mention of overseas Amazon sites though, and it would suggest that books sold by British/Irish authors on Amazon will have to go through the Booksurge system, but is safe for now. For uk/Irish authors it still is bad news, particularly if they are getting any decent US online sales, it still going to mean a whole different formatted print file for the US amazon market and another for everyone else.