View from my office window

View from my office window

It’s 8:05 a.m. A rainy May day in Tokyo. It’s time to get going, get with it, get on it. Is that where you’re at? Or are you crying…?

Yesterday I met with my writer friend. She’s walking out on a limb, going for it, declaring herself a “writer.” I applauded her. But getting to that conversation, we both shed some tears… about our unique lives here in Japan, about the decisions we made (or didn’t), about what the universe gives us (or doesn’t). The tears welled up in our eyes without notice; it was kind of shocking to me. But the reasons all boiled down to this: we have not believed in ourselves enough. We have not trusted ourselves enough. We have not allowed ourselves to think that for one moment maybe we really could be writers.

After I left our tête-à-tête, I said to myself, “That’s it! No more tears!” — Now, that’s easy to say and I don’t know that I can hold back the dam if indeed we hit an emotional geyser, but… I said to myself, “From TODAY, I am a WRITER.” If other people want to think differently, that’s THEIR opinion. I write, therefore, I am a writer. That gave me a feeling of strength, a protective coat, a veneer of toughness. I am going to keep saying it over and over and over. When I introduce myself to others, I am going to say, “I’m a writer.” And when they look at me admiringly I will drink in the admiration, because, as my darling writer friend from yesterday’s tear-fest said to me, “You deserve it.”

Yes, I deserve it. I have lived in denial of my talents my whole life… for what? I think somehow I thought that if I “went too far” I would somehow not fit into the image that others already had of me. And so, I stayed locked in that image for many years. I could have succumbed to alcohol or drugs or God-knows-what, but I didn’t… I just “maintained” the image.

Well, that image doesn’t work for me anymore. I am not a well-known writer, I only make a pittance for what I have written so far… but I DON’T CARE. I started on a path, a path I was afraid to walk down. And it doesn’t matter to me how many other talented, gifted, brilliant people have walked down it … there is still room for ME. I am going to make room.

And so… if I only sit and cry about it, that ain’t going to get me anywhere. It’s okay, I suppose, to share those tears with a dear friend who can understand and support you, but I think the trick is to acknowledge what was, what wasn’t, what is and what isn’t. Right now I am in the “what is” mode… and I am going to work it to the best of my abilities.

Years ago I met a woman in Hollywood. I think her name was Lynn, but it doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that “Lynn” was who she thought she was. In other words, if there was an audition for a tap dancer, then Lynn went to it; it wasn’t important whether she actually was a tap dancer or not; she BELIEVED she was for the purpose of the audition. And one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is: “You are who you think you are.”

So, that is my “mantra” for today and I encourage anyone who has any doubts about their creative selves to “take ownership” of that and declare that you are a writer or actor or musician or singer. You will find your audience.

First things first

May 5, 2010

Flowing Ribbons

Flowing Ribbons

I posted this specific picture, snapped at the incredible Britex Fabrics shop on a recent trip to San Francisco, because this is what I think my mind looks like: bright, shiny, colorful, with endless ribbons of creative ideas. I have been unable to manage all those ideas well, which is why I often skip from project to project, although for the most part, I do come back and finish each project.

But on my recent trip to the states (now that I live in Tokyo, visiting the states is like going to a foreign country), one of my oldest and dearest friends criticized me, harshly, for “never finishing anything.” I thought her criticism was a bit misplaced as I have finished many things… but her complaint was: “That’s all you do with them… you finish them. Then what?”

I could not entirely disagree with this, as unpleasant as it sounded. I love the creative process and I love creating things. But after I finish them, I feel they are done. But unfortunately, they are not… not if I want to make a living off of them… and I do.

And so, without delving into years of backstory, I will just say that my friend’s overall critique definitely pulled back yet another layer of the veils I have protectively swathed myself in for years and this blog will detail my journey to get my specific projects “off the ground.”

So, this blog was created to encourage anyone who wants to write to do just that… and while I am encourage you (and myself), I will also be pushing myself to take my projects to the next level. “Talking” and “doing” are two different things. And I am continuing to learn that while “the pen might be mightier than the sword,” “action” still speaks louder than “words.”

This leads me to the title of today’s blog: First things first. That translates as: Focus on what’s important and stop wasting time on what isn’t.

I pray this is the start of the journey I have promised myself I would go on many years ago. More soon.