I have a cork board in my writing office that is crowded with quotes, photos, and inspirational messages. This one has somehow made its way to the center:
“Most of us would do better if we became more adept at watching the fire under our work… The fire bears, requires, watching, for it is easy to let the flame go out.”
– Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
It’s a reminder, a warning, because I’ve let my flame go out before, more than once.
The first time was in college.
At the end of my senior year I met with my creative writing professor to discuss my plans for the future. Mr. F was an intimidating figure whose impressive degrees and sardonic attitude fostered fear rather than inspiration. Nervously, I told him about my plan to apply to MFA programs. He shot down my idea as unflinchingly as he might have flattened a bug.
The irony was he was right. I did need life experience more than another degree, but his delivery lacked compassion, to say the least, and I left his office disillusioned and shattered.
Who hasn’t experienced a moment like this, when our dreams are suddenly extinguished? Worse still, at the hand of someone we trust. But as much as I resented Mr. F, as much as I “blamed” him for my plummet in confidence, it wasn’t his fault. He hadn’t put out my flame.
The creative embers that stir within our hearts are sacred. We will all encounter obstacles and challenges, but ultimately we’re responsible for protecting and nourishing the flame within (tweet that!)« Continue »