Do you have a favorite line?
Right now mine is the litany against fear from Dune. There is a current real world reason why this code is significant to me.
The Litany Against Fear:
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
-Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear.
Why is the code significant to me right now?
Last Summer I sat at a dinner table with three of the fantasy/sci fi finalists at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference. Each of the finalists did a nice job trying to keep there composure as the top three were announced. Third place was a woman at our table. Extra loud claps and cheers erupted from out table. It was cool. Second was someone else, who was not at our table. Claps and cheers. One more place to go. Two more finalists at the table and six more in the room of hundreds. First place in the finalist category goes to ... The husband of the winner jumped up and cheered as load as you could imagine. I smiled for the couple. And honestly the winner, who was a mom about my same age, looked shocked. I was so happy for them. It was a beautiful moment for the both of them. And, I though, that's what I want for my wife and I.
I drove home from the conference thinking, "That's what I am going to try for." And, I did. You know the steps: feedback, revision, feedback, revision, .... So, you can imagine that when I opened the link to the finalists and saw that my name was not there I felt an electric jolt (a pang, if you will) erupt from my heart.
It was painful, but a funny thing happened. I felt glad for one of the guys that was listed as a finalist. His name is Brad Gallaway and I had the pleasure of exchanging feedback with him this year. If you are interested in dark fantasy or video games you should check out his blog. http://drinkingcoffeecola.blogspot.com/
A thought came to me: "I am glad that I was a part of something." That something was of course the feedback exchange and Brad's success. Somehow that thought, the idea that just being in the game and being involved (even in a peripheral way) with some one's writing success helped the pain to pass through me.
This afternoon I was thinking about the whole writing life thing. I was thinking about the sacrifices and how I have stopped marathon training. I was also thinking about the next novel. There was a tension between continuing with the dream and letting the pain of rejection deter me. That's when the litany against fear came to mind.
What matters more than winning or losing is character, and the ability to continue fighting on.
So, I refuse to give in to the mind killer. I refuse to entertain the fear that I am not good enough or that I will never make it. I also refuse to disassociate from the pain. I embrace the pain and I am conscious of the reasons why it exists. Here's my theory, in brief. We will feel pain in proportion to the degree that we feel hope and desire. I felt a tremendous amount of hope and desire, therefore, it makes sense to feel a tremendous amount of disappoint and fear.
I don't think that it is good to stop hoping. That would make us lifeless and passionless. Feel the pain of rejection. Let it pass through you. And turn to look with the inner eye at the experience. Grow stronger from it. And know that if you do not give into fear (the little mind killer) you will continue on through the desert until you arrive at your destination. Once you arrive, who you are and how you have grown will matter more than the fact that you arrived. That is my code. If you are a friend of mine, feel free to hold me and others to it.
What helps you to let the pain pass through you?
1. Acknowledging it's validity helps me
2. Knowing that I have other writing and nonwriting successes and other sources of meaning helps me
3. Acknowledging the strength of the competition helps me
In his blog, Brad wrote, "The person who informed me that I was in the running said that this year's SF/F category had some fierce competition."
4. Looking forward with a positive attitude helps me
I once had an agent end an email in a wonderful way. He wrote, LOOK FORWARD : )
To me, that means focus on the path with a positive attitude, and continue on.
QUESTIONS OF THE DAY
-What's a meaningful line from literature to you?
-Do you have a mantra or mind-trick for letting pain pass through you?