Sunday, September 07, 2008

Guest Blogger - CJ

Marblehead Light, Marblehead, MA

Today, CJ is guest blogging some words of wisdom about Writer's/Artist's Doubt. You can visit CJ at: The Compost Heap.

This excerpt by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love was taken from Jacqueline Sullivan's blog I had the pleasure of taking Jacqueline's Marks and Metals workshop a few years ago. I expected her blog article to be related to calligraphy and art, and here she was talking about writing. Jacqueline noted that the author's words could apply to making art as well as writing. I read on.

You will make vows: “I’m going to write for an hour every day,” and then you won’t do it. You will think: “I suck, I’m such a failure. I’m washed-up.” Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn’t take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness (which comes from a place of kind and encouraging and motherly love). The other thing to realize is that all writers think they suck. When I was writing “Eat, Pray, Love”, I had just as a strong a mantra of THIS SUCKS ringing through my head as anyone does when they write anything. But I had a clarion moment of truth during the process of that book. One day, when I was agonizing over how utterly bad my writing felt, I realized: “That’s actually not my problem.” The point I realized was this – I never promised the universe that I would write brilliantly; I only promised the universe that I would write. So I put my head down and sweated through it, as per my vows.

I was anxious to share this paragraph with Erica. She's been preparing for the ACFW conference in Minneapolis in a couple of weeks. She's shared her enthusiasm about the conference and also how she's nervous, unsettled, and feeling unprepared.

How often have I felt what I create isn't good enough? Such thoughts and feelings erode self-confidence. A recent thread on a calligrapher's loop I belong to seemed to be about mediocre calligraphy being passed off as art. Some of the concurring comments were made by artists a lot farther up the experience chain than I am. My little, inner critic chimed in too. I thought about recent pieces I've done and thought, "Yup, the emperor is naked."

And then it hit me. Light dawned on marble head.

If I was given the talent to put pen and ink to paper, isn't it a slap in God's face to say "I'm not good enough?" Thinking I'm not worthy is denying the honor I was given. Sure, I have a long way to go in my pursuit of the perfect letter form. However, the focus should be on the journey, on using my talent in the very best way I can with the knowledge and experience I have learned along the way.

This not only applies to art and writing, but to all facets of life. Honor what you have been given and give back by using your gifts to the best of your ability.


  1. Timely words that really speak to my heart this morning. Thank you for posting.

  2. Great thoughts CJ! Thanks for sharing that.

    Honor what you have been given and give back by using your gifts to the best of your ability. What a beautiful way of expressing it and reminding us that each of us has something special to offer back to God.