Somehow, I'm the kind of person people like to pour out their troubles to. I don't think I look particularly sympathetic, but maybe they get the vibe that I can help. Whenever someone talks to me about relationship problems, I fall back on something I learned long ago:
Unconditional love is a harsh mistress. But it's the only one worth serving.
This is the only piece of advice I ever give, and it's not really advice. It's a credo.
Credos provide perspective and a steady compass needle. I think because we live in a time of easy gratification and moral relativism, self-indulgence is easy to rationalize. Without a solid credo or two, we fall prey to laziness.
Writers, real, true writers, those whose veins run with Quink Permanent Blue-Black or Namiki Wild Chestnut, consider writing to be their mistress. And sometimes she is harsh!
When you write seriously, with passion, whether you are a professional or aspiring to be one, you have gotten to the point where you must love your mistress unconditionally, or you will be tempted to compromise. You will be tempted to give weight to little setbacks and misunderstandings that don't matter. You will be tempted to quit, not knowing that in the very act of persistence lies salvation.
So: Join me in loving our beautiful, infuriating, sexy, impossible mistress unconditionally. Serve her without question, and see what happens.
[Photo by ES: Original drafts of You've Got a Book in You.]
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