When I was in high school, my English teacher, Mrs. Jones, was hated by many of her students. Not me. I loved her. I thought she was wise, and smart, and had enough persnickities to start her own Persnickety Store.
One of the reasons I loved her so much is she made me believe in my writing. The way she did this was with “eagles.” (She was a staunch conservative and I see this now as subliminal training into the Republican Party.) If a paper was returned with a gold eagle on it, it meant I was “published,” and she sent the papers out to everyone as an example of good writing. Extrinsic motivation at work right there in Anderson Union High School GATE English.
Flash forward MANY years…
Last week when my agent Rachael sent back my edits with a “GOOD FOR YOU” and “I’m so proud and pleased,” I got all eagly all over again. Gold star. A +. I started planning my first book signing. Boy, was I pleased with myself.
Then I had this conversation.
Ego: Ha! I nailed it.
Higher Self: When will you learn?
Ego: Learn what? Did you not see how she just said I brought the whole book up a level? Where’s the Cristal? Pop the cork!
Higher Self: We have so much more work to do with you.
Ego: Buzz kill.
My best work happens not when I’m trying to impress or seek validation or hunt down Eagle stickers. My best work happens when I’m opening myself up and allowing the story to flow through me from some place far greater than me. I am but a willing servant, a conduit. It’s SO not about me.
When I get all stuck in my ego and think I’m so clever (which is hard not to do when somebody says in one way or another, “You’re such a good writer”), my writing pretty much inevitably sucks eggs. It’s distracting, it doesn’t flow, it doesn’t honor the story. That’s not the kind of writer I want to be.
It’s important for me (crucial, even) to keep myself open and present to each moment as it passes by. To be an observer of the eagle and feel its energy as it soars through the sky serves me better than to covet the gold symbol that says I nailed it. If I can do that, while keeping my world in balance and joy–to serve people with what comes out of my fingertips in a way that makes their life better somehow–then that, my friends, is why I’m here.