“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you
where there were only walls.” Joseph Campbell
I hear this advice from so many different writers and teachers, from many different traditions and cultures. The idea is that each of us has something special to contribute, some work that we feel pulled to do, and by doing it, we will feel fulfilled and the world will be enriched. Campbell talks about it as following your bliss. Others say to find your heart’s passion. For many of us here, that passion is writing. Taking those subtle whispers and intuitions, those glimpses out of the corner of our eye that we grab onto, shape, and turn into highly polished stories.
But we allow ourselves to be talked out of following our bliss so easily. It’s not practical, our parents say. Study business or typing (that second one was from the 1950s) so you’ll have something to fall back on. You’ll never make a living doing that. Get a real job so you don’t starve.
Or we fear what we want to write won’t sell. We love vampires, but read in a creative writing text book that vampires are passé (I have such a book on the shelf in my university office) and no one who is a serious writer writes that anyway. We follow trends rather than listen to the story inside us.
Or we let ourselves get distracted. I’ve noticed sometimes in the mornings I’ll do everything else besides write first. Update Quicken, update my Facebook status, check all my email accounts, etc., etc. Sometimes I ignore my inner urgings not to get sidetracked into doing things that eat up time. I get drawn into fights that are not mine really. All this takes time away from doing what I feel passionate about.
Sometimes I remember lost opportunities and feel sad. Like the time a publisher asked me to write a screenplay in a month. It was the end of the semester. There was no way. Now I wish I’d just done it. Who needs to sleep? But I learned from that. More opportunities will arise. As Campbell says, walls will turn into doors. For all of us.