I've been having some trouble writing recently. I need to make some minor adjustments to my play before it can go on to its next phase, several other projects want more attention, and then there is this little blog I love that hasn't seen a post in a week.
I called up a good friend to talk about it.
'Well,' I said, 'I have a lot going on, but I think that what's really been stopping me are my limiting beliefs.' She laughed. 'Do I sound too psycho-babbly?' I asked.
'No,' she said. 'I just don't hear that very often. Its refreshing.'
'Oh!' It was like she'd pinned a gold star on my cardigan.
I told her what was stopping me. It was this thought:
Its too hard to make a living as a writer, so you shouldn't even try.
I know its origin. When I was a little kid pounding away happily on the electric typewriter, my dad sat me down. He told me that only two percent of writers make their living at it. I needed to find something else to do. Writing for fun was great, but find another job.
To my child's ears he meant that I would never be good enough at the thing I loved to do the most.
Many, if not most people have a version of this story, some way more intense than mine. There is usually some doom-sayer along the way-- a friend, a teacher, often someone with good intentions, and no amount of singing the Wonderful World of Disney theme song can shake them out of the mind.
'Its a monster' I said.
'What do you do with monsters?' my friend asked.
'First you turn on the light, and then... you help them.' I said, remembering one of my favorite Rilke quotes:
'perhaps everything terrible is, in its deepest being, something helpless that wants help from us.'
'How do you help them?' she asked.
'I don't know. That's the problem.'
What do you think your monster wants?' she asked.
'She wants a good dad. She felt abandoned by her dad.'
'You might have to be her dad,' my friend said. And then she said, 'Frida Kahlo. That just popped into my mind.' Its great having intuitive friends.
That was it. I love Frida Kahlo. I adore her work, her inspiring life story, and I love the way she would usually wear these timeless colorful skirts, and then show up in a suit.
I'm like that. I'm a bit of a princess with a dash of drag king. I live mostly in silk, but occasionally I lust after herringbone jackets, french cuff shirts, wide legged pants and fedoras.
So now I'm assembling my perfect dad costume for my monster. He looks good in a hat. His shoes match his belt and umbrella. But he looks comfortable, gentle, like an abused animal might follow him home. He's basically a mix between Johhny Depp, my super stylish and wildly encouraging college design professor, and my grandpa. My monster is delighted. My perfect dad tells her that she can be anything she sets her heart on. (Yes, like the Disney song says.)
*For the record, I have a pretty good adult relationship with my real dad now, and wouldn't change him, even though he still thinks that John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever is the pinnacle of style.
This moonday, I'm thinking about monsters and how I can help them. If you want to share a story, or some inspirational art, quote, or poems that help you to help your monsters... I would love to see/read them.