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You can always reinvent yourself for the better

Resistance is the secret of joy

Alice Walker’s protagonist, Tashi, declares this towards the end of the novel, Possessing the Secret of Joy. There’s something to be said for being able to withstand hard times, keeping going and remaining determinedly consistent, whether in a writing project or in life. I’ve always had a high tolerance for routine and stubbornly putting one foot in front of the other. My childhood led to me becoming a stoic with a work ethic that has told me to ‘get on with it’. And I’ve sometimes had to reinvent myself when circumstances closed doors unexpectedly.

But along the way I’ve also learnt that it’s not all about resistance and stoically getting on with things. Four things in particular have made a huge difference to being able to keep going when things got overwhelming. We can always reinvent ourselves for the better and doing this has been key to every transformation I’ve made.

I was raised to do things myself and not to ask for help. But when the press I founded hit a funding crisis a few years ago I learnt that reaching out, for ideas and for practical support, is a much better solution. It sounds obvious, but asking for help is one of the most profound things I’ve learnt to do as an adult.

In the film About a Boy (from the novel by Nick Hornby) the summing up is that we need people. We are not islands, as John Donne noted, and if we behave like we need no one we’ll soon find we have no one. Both writing and life require collaboration. And the more generous that collaboration is, the more support and inspiration everyone involved will experience.

When we live as though resources (whether material or emotional) are in short supply, it’s likely to become true. The converse is also the case. Generosity is vital to living abundantly and there are so many ways to be generous, with our time, with our attention, with our skills … the list is endless.

When we give, it changes us. When we act like love, kindness and time are not about to run out forever, we become different people, we are telling a different story about ourselves.

Earlier in 2017 I was lucky to experience the amazing benefits of travel and deep, focussed writing time for a whole month in Budapest. It was a life-changing month. I returned with a persistent voice in my head that now insists there is always an alternative way to achieve your passions. Listening to that voice has been terrifying at times. It’s telling me I need to take more time for my own writing and that this can be as good for Cinnamon Press as it is for me; making the press tighter, more focussed, more excellent whilst not consuming all of my time.

My passions are writing and travel. I love Cinnamon Press and the work I do with authors, but I know I have to make the two things work together to stay true to myself.

So many of us have been taught to put ourselves last. Egoism isn’t pretty and I’m not advising it, but investing in our skills; using time for self-development and education instead of Internet surfing and mass entertainment enables us to hone skills and reflect on values. In 2018 I’m giving a big chunk of time to my writing skills and to making goals happen. It’s part of a long journey and you can read more about it in this blog by Benjamin P Hardy on Huffpost.

As we approach 2018, what’s your inner voice telling you? If it’s telling you to keep quiet and put up with being overwhelmed, overworked or miserable, don’t listen. Dig deeper, find your passion and go for it. Don’t let your life be run for you and don’t listen to anything that whispers that your creative passions are self-indulgent. The more creative you are and the more you do what you love the more you will have to give to the world.

If you’d like to keep thinking differently about writing, creativity and life, please sign up to follow my blog and sign up for the Be a Different Story Newsletter.

Written by

Editor, author, feminist & part-time nomad. Helping others develop their writing life and practice. Blog @ https://janfortune.com/

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