“Learning to endure disappointment and frustration is part of the job of a creative person.”
That gold nugget of a statement comes from Elizabeth Gilbert in her new book “Big Magic” (great book by the way!), and I’d like to ponder the meaning with you.
As a writer (and author), I agree wholeheartedly in the authenticity of that above opening statement. None of us writers (or other creative types) can or will escape disappointments and frustrations of our “job”, but we can (and must) learn to endure them in a way that keeps our head above water.
Now, there are the obvious disappointments of the dreaded (and often too numerous to mention) rejection letters after we’ve submitted the work of our blood, sweat and tears to someone who didn’t love it the way we did (how is that even possible?). But there is also the daily disappointments and frustrations that can knock the wind out of our sails or steer us into a fog so thick we’re sure we’ll never get out of it. Whatever the cause, we must not let disappointment and frustration kill our creative desires or blind us to our path.
Living with disappointment isn’t the same as giving into it. Living with or enduring both disappointment and frustration means recognizing it, feeling it then putting it out with the garbage. And leave it out there. Don’t try to bring it in like a stray cat, because if you feed it, it will stay. And if disappointment and frustration stay, they will derail your creative life and goals in no time flat.
Up until recently, I used to think there was something horribly wrong with me, that I must be some special kind of stupid because after each disappointment and through every frustration I continue to get right back to my writing (sometimes after a couple days of feeling sorry for myself, but still…). I get the air knocked out of me, but eventually I begin to breathe as if my life depended upon it. And I think it does. I believe if I don’t follow my creative calling, I will stop breathing.
But this all pertains to more than creative people living creative careers, doesn’t it? It’s relevant to every person in every walk of life, every career and calling.
Life will always be sprinkled with frustrations of varying types and disappoints in all shapes and sizes, but we keep living. And if we want to keep living in a way that brings us happiness instead of simply filling our lungs with air, we’ll need to hold our head up high and power through those frustrations and disappointments.
I encourage everyone, but I’m especially speaking to fellow writers (and creative types) when I say hold on tight to what you love, and please don’t deprive the world of your gift by letting fears, insecurities, frustrations or disappoints knock you off course for long.