Weekend Edition – Sometimes, you have to get mad.

What is your breaking point?

snarling wolfIn every story there is a point at which something in the protagonist snaps – a breaking point where fear turns into ferocity and ambivalence turns into action. A decision is made. A line is crossed. Things change.

As writers, as creators, we come to this pivotal moment over and over again. In our journey, we face many such turning points – big, life-changing ones and small, seemingly innocuous ones that nevertheless send ripples surging across the inner landscape of our hearts and minds.

Most of the choices we make are relatively peaceful. They do not require sacrifice or a change in how we perceive ourselves or the world. They are simply a matter of artistic acumen or preference, a decision to use blue instead of yellow or this word instead of that one. These decisions may take time and effort, but they do not demand much more of us. They do not require us to give up a truth or a lie. They do not leave marks on our souls or change our creative trajectory.

But, sometimes we come to moments that, whether we realize it at the time or not, change everything. If you look back on your own creative journey, you will see these points like sign posts along the road. You will see how each one marked a choice, a decision – this way or that. You will see how they have defined the path you have taken and brought you to where you are today. These choices were not peaceful. These choices were fraught with doubt and indecision. These choices forced you to swing out over the abyss, look down into the depths of your fears, and confront the terrifyingly insubstantial nature of reality and the equally terrifying realization that you are responsible for creating that reality.

Am I a real artist? Do I deserve this? Do I have what it takes? Should I say yes? Should I say no? Should I risk it? Is this what I really want?

These do or die decisions are not passive events. You cannot coast through the process in a state of serene confidence. You have to fight your way to your ultimate choice. You have to pass through tangled forests of uncertainty and shadowed valleys of unworthiness. You have to go willingly into the dark, even though you know the splintered talons and greasy jaws of your personal demons are only a hair’s breadth away.

This is not the moment to surrender. This is the moment to get spitting mad. This is the point of no return, the I’m-mad-as-hell-and-I’m-not-going-to-take-it-anymore turning point that catapults you into a new reality, one of your own making.

All acts of creation include an element of violence. Creation is change. It is turning one thing into another, and metamorphosis is a painful process. It is not for the faint of heart. But nestled at the core of creative violence – shining in counterpoint to the sharp, messy chaos from which art is born – is a deep and savage love. Anger and a passion to fight do not exist in a vacuum. They are driven by love. We do not do battle simply for the sake of doing battle. We do battle to defend something, to free something, or to stand up for our beliefs. We risk ourselves only for something we love.

Like any good story, your creative journey is filled with conflict. And you, as the protagonist of your story, must be willing to fight the good fight. You must be willing to get in there and get your hands dirty, take risks, fail, fall, and try again. It’s okay if you wander for a while; that’s part of the story, too. It may take you a long time, years even, to reach the point that will change everything. But when you do, don’t be afraid to get mad. Remember, your anger is love in disguise. Use it, and see where it takes you.

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Shareworthy:

book grace keepersThis morning I finished reading The Grace Keepers by Kirsty Logan. I picked the book up in part because Logan was recommended to me by the instructor of a writing class I took last fall, and in part because the back cover features a recommendation from Ursula K. Le Guin who wrote, “A highly original fantasy, set in a haunting sea-world both familiar and mysterious.” If it’s good enough for Le Guin …

This book has a feel similar to Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, The Buried Giant. Though Ishiguro’s tale takes place in the distant past, and Logan’s is presumably set in a semi-apocalyptic future where the oceans have devoured almost all the land, each story is wrought of equal parts reality and fantasy. Though the settings and some of what happens have a sense of magic about them, the characterization is firmly grounded in the reality of what it means to be human.

The story elements include a dancing bear, watery graveyards tended by grace keepers, and whispers of merpeople; but the themes around which these elements entwine are more familiar and substantial: loneliness, family, prejudice, belonging, home, acceptance. Though the trappings of the floating circus glitter and shine, they only serve to sharpen our focus on the truths that lie in the darker shadows behind the silk curtains.

Logan’s writing is both lyrical and pragmatic. Though her language and imagery are beautiful, they are not superfluously so. Each image, each bit of dialog is relevant to the story. This book was a pleasure to read on many levels, and one I recommend.

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And, here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

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Finally, a quote for the week:

pin throw me to the wolves

Here’s to embracing your ferocity and setting it loose on the world in the most loving and beautiful way you can. 
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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on Facebooktwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
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27 thoughts on “Weekend Edition – Sometimes, you have to get mad.

  1. Jamie, this post, especially the last two paragraphs reverberated with me. I’ve been struggling to start writing about working in India and the Middle East years ago. I fell in love with the people who were so different from me, so challenging to one’s Western soul. Watching the news coverage of the horrific conditions so many in that part of the world are enduring brings me to tears daily but creates a conflict with those in my life that have not experienced another culture. The lack of interest and compassion is baffling and as you wrote, has evolved into a frustration that I hope will now trigger the writing that will open some eyes.

    • It sounds like you have already found the love that inspires you, and now your frustration may be boiling over into the kind of productive anger that is the catalyst for your work. I have often found that getting mad is an excellent way to push past fear, whether it’s fear of conflict or fear of falling or any other kind of fear. Getting mad gives us a jolt of adrenaline that helps us leap beyond the fear so that we can take action.
      I wish you good luck with your writing. I am sure that you will open some eyes, and that is a good thing.
      Thanks for coming by and for sharing part of your story.

  2. So, true Jaime. I think everyone can clearly relate with this.

    I believe we have these painful moments outside the creative journey as well. And a real artist only just absorbs them as part of his metamorphosis. It is part of the recipe. In my own life, whenever I look back I can fairly identify many moments and decisions which categorically transformed me into whatever I am today. I have, over the years, learnt to embrace them and accept what I am and not minding if I don’t conform to others’ beliefs and expectations. In fact, whenever I reflect on days past, I realise that given the same instincts and circumstances, I will repeat my decisions – so I have no regret about them – however – they do affect my view of the world and the life I am living including my small time writing efforts.

    • Hello, Bilal.
      I agree that these moments exist outside the creative journey. Each choice we make moves us toward one thing and away from another. Have a healthy breakfast, and get lots of good energy for the day ahead. Eat a junk food breakfast, and watch your energy take a nose dive. Small choices made again and again create big results. It’s the same with writing. If we choose to take small steps each day – maybe just writing for ten or fifteen minutes, for instance – over time, that adds up to hours and hours of practice, practice that can make a big difference in our confidence and skill.

      Looking at things from that perspective, there really are no “small efforts.”
      🙂

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Though I also believe in free will and in taking responsibility for our choices and lives, I agree with you that there is an element of purpose or “fate” involved as well. I believe that everything happens for a reason. Not every reason has to do with us, and we certainly don’t get to know all the reasons, but I do believe they are there.

      I loved the quote as well – such a quiet but fierce statement of confidence and intent.

      Thanks for being here. Always nice to see you! 🙂

  3. I recently read The Gracekeepers as part of my bookgroup and we all went to hear her in conversation with Marina Warner at the Edinburgh book festival. A very exciting and inspiring young writer, I second your recommendation.

    • Oh! That must have been very cool to hear Logan speak. I’m envious. 😉

      And I’m glad to “meet” someone else who enjoyed the book. Thanks for sharing.

      • It’s always interesting to hear the author’s take on things. She was also talking about her new book, a collection of short stories, again fairy tale theme. I’m not sure it is available in the U.S. as it is a limited edition print run.

  4. “But, sometimes we come to moments that, whether we realize it at the time or not, change everything. If you look back on your own creative journey, you will see these points like sign posts along the road. You will see how each one marked a choice, a decision – this way or that. ” — Yes!! James Joyce wrote of the “epiphany” as the moment when the bare essence is revealed, and all the decisions made prior led the character to “have no choice” but to make one specific choice. A climax of sorts, a movement of action.

    I very much enjoyed this post. Thank you!

    • Ooh! That idea of multiple decisions ultimately leading to an inevitable decision is so interesting. I wonder how often that plays out in real life, and how often anyone bucks the odds and makes an ultimate decision that doesn’t conform to the pattern.

      Thanks so much for sharing that insight. Lots to think about!

  5. Good morning Jamie ❤️ Anger has been such a propelling force for me – usually in relationships – but also in other areas. I have such an ability to forgive and wait for people to come around, that sometimes I need to get angry to move myself out of something that isn’t working and will never work in that form. Very useful!
    Also, loved that Momastery article about the path. So much goodness! So much wisdom!
    Enjoy your weekend ❤️

    • I know where you’re coming from, Sara. I’m also a person who can take a lot before losing it.
      I tend to just “go with the flow” until the absolute last minute. I’d like to think that this is because I have deeper than normal wells of patience and tolerance, but sometimes it’s just that I don’t want to rock the boat. I must say, however, that the older I get the less issue I have with rocking the boat. In fact, sometimes I feel like I’m looking for excuses to rock it. 😉

      Thanks for being part of my weekend!

    • Thank you for taking the time to let me know that this post found you at the right time. I love when that happens. 🙂

    • I’m glad that you both liked it.
      I like the quote, too (obviously) 😉 – both on its own, and because it makes me think there’s a story hiding beneath those words.

      Thanks for coming by!

  6. Hi, I was just talking with someone this morning about how emotionally difficult it is to get a bit more intentional in my writing – to thnk of myself as a writer… you word the dilemma beautifully … definitely a feeling of having to keep going on a path past ‘inner demons’blocking my way & threatening. For me I resonated with the idea that its the love that drives the journey… that there is something worth ‘getting over myself’ for…

    • That’s a beautiful way to put it – that we have to “get over ourselves” not for ourselves, but for the something that we love. Love that. I think it also makes it harder for our inner critic to crush us if we make the journey “bigger” … meaning it’s not all about us, but about our role in a bigger story. By taking the spotlight off us a little, we reduce the chances that we’ll become a target for those nasty little voices inside our head. 😉

      Thanks for adding to the conversation. Great thoughts!

  7. Pingback: Weekend Edition – Sometimes, you have to get mad. | Moonlake's Fiction Space

  8. This struck something very familiar in me, it’s just that sometimes that anger is directed towards me for things I wish I did but couldn’t anymore.
    And as I look back at my creative journey, I couldn’t believe I’d get to hear a voice deep within that sounds how I am today. It’s truly a painful process, perpetually contemplating whether I’d slay this part of me (good luck to that!), nurture it, or just let it be.
    Thanks you for posting this awesome post Jamie…

    • We can be surprised by our own voices, can’t we? Often, we deny them; but they usually manage to eventually be heard anyway. It can be a painful process, but one that I believe ultimately leads to a better sense of self. So … worth it.
      Thanks for sharing.

  9. Thank you Jamie for sharing how we should really go through the darkness, willingly and embrace the ugly part of the process. It has been surely quite a journey to just getting started on embracing my creative side. This is very inspiring as I truly believe there is love behind every good and bad.. You’ve written very profoundly and motivational.. Enjoyed it so much..

    • I’m always just learning, but happy to share. The journey can be dark and difficult, but it’s better with company to share part of the road. 🙂

      Thanks very much for your kind words and support. I’m glad the post found you at the right time.

  10. Reblogged this on Emily Arden, author and commented:
    Great post from Jamie. I love this quote:
    “Like any good story, your creative journey is filled with conflict. And you, as the protagonist of your story, must be willing to fight the good fight. You must be willing to get in there and get your hands dirty, take risks, fail, fall, and try again. It’s okay if you wander for a while; that’s part of the story, too.”

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