#NaBloPoMo 20 – On ambition

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It wasn’t much of a day. I was in noodle-mode, sticking things into my day book, quotes and articles and poems that I had scavenged from around the place. Having a bit of a tidy up. Not really thinking about anything. Tidying. That awkward email I had been avoiding sending. That kind of day.

And then it happened. I realised, as I glued another piece of newsprint into my journal and looked at it staring back at me, that I had lost my ambition. I’m not talking here about career ambition, or somehow losing the will to go out to work each day. I’m talking about the secret little nugget of ambition that I had been nurturing deep in my heart for the best part of this year. I’m talking specifically about books, not poems. I had been storing ambitions for books, and that is what I lost. The ambition of having a best-seller. The ambition of being invited to things. The ambition of being known. That is what I had lost. Though abstract, this was a feeling as palpable as hanging up my scarf on a hook, or closing the lid of my laptop. The ambition had left me. I actually experienced an enormous rush of relief, a sense of freedom and letting go.

Just then I became aware of a new feeling, equally as palpable. This was not about books and fame, but about the very opposite of those things, the actual process of writing. Now I had let go of my grand designs I began to see my writing differently. I began to see it as a gift, a joy, a thing to be relished and played with, not a commodity that is prey to the judgements of others. You could say I reconnected with what got me going in the first place, that sense of amazing possibility, that sense of ‘Why not…?’ and ‘What if…?’. I cleared my desk. Underneath its rubble I discovered some scraps of paper on which was evidence of my writing. I had no memory of writing the words I was reading. They felt foreign, as though another writer with my handwriting had entered the house at night and forged my hand. I read the words but did not understand them. Something in me began to stir.

15 comments

  1. Christine Whittemore

    Thank you for this, Anthony. I too am seeking to rediscover that joy in the process of writing, a thing “to be relished and played with,” while trying to grapple with the (very natural) desire to be known, a desire which hampers the playfulness of creativity…..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jaynestanton

    Anthony, you’ve articulated some of what I’ve come around to thinking, lately: lamenting a supposed lack of ‘output’ is to be preoccupied with the product rather than the process of writing. And, yes, that feeling, on being reacquainted with a few lines of writing: ‘Did I really write that…?’ Maybe the spark is in the distance put between writer and writing…

    Like

  3. Pingback: Happy Anniversary or Product versus Process | Jayne Stanton POETRY
  4. Mary Ellen

    You name this elusive thing that stops me in my tracks, too–the unadorned love of the work and the process taken hostage by the allure of fame and fortune. Something vital dies when that happens. So happy for you to find yourself free from it. Now, how to keep it that way.

    Liked by 2 people

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