Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Tag: depression

Elizabeth Gilbert on Genius

     Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, gave a great TED Talk about where creativity comes from. Watch it.

     For years I have thought that genius and creativity was from the outside. The artist does not generate her art, she translates the whisperings she hears onto page or canvas or sound.

A Letter I Got This Weekend

My consciousness received a letter this weekend. I figured I’d share it.

Dear Matt,
Hi there. Remember me? You’ve been shutting me out for a while now. And I see you’ve been busy while I’ve been gone. Think you got a lot done, eh? Think you’ve made progress, eh? Well, I just wanted to drop you a line to remind you that you’re not actually getting anywhere. In fact, everything that you’ve been doing is a colossal waste of time. You’re not good enough. You’re not smart enough. You don’t have ‘it’. I’d prove it to you, but you already know it, deep down. You’ll never achieve anything worthwhile in your life. You’re too old. You’re too dumb. That’s just the way it is. So you might as well delete that laughable WIP with all of its shallow characters and glaring plot holes. Because people are going to laugh at it. The same way people laugh at you behind your back when you tell them you’re a writer. Quit trying. You’re no good.
Sincerely,
The Imp on your Shoulder

I sat around thinking about the letter for most of the weekend. Finally drafted a response last night:

Dear Imp on my Shoulder,
Sod off.

I could stop there. I could leave this with a simple dismissal and get on with my day, but I feel like I ought to give you a bit more so that you’ll think again before writing me with your ‘advice.’

It’s true that my WIP is ugly and a bit malformed right now. I’m the first to admit it. It’s like a fetus. Kinda creepy looking and not meant to be exposed quite yet. Can’t stand on its own legs legs.

But I am good enough, smart enough, diligent enough to make it walk. No, I can make it fly!

I can prove it, too. I’ve done stuff, you see. I’ve written a book. I’ve travelled the world. I’ve learned another language. I’ve produced children. I’ve spread joy and love. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!

What have you done, oh imp on my shoulder?

Nothing.

You’ve sat there for twenty-nine years bitching and whining. You’ve never helped me achieve any of my goals. You’ve never cheered for any of my successes. You’ve never been a meaningful part of anything good that I’ve ever accomplished. I’m not the waste. You are. And I won’t let you consume me. The very fact that I’m clever enough to push you away makes me clever enough to realize my dreams.

So sod off, imp. Precedent says you’re wrong. And even if it didn’t, I’d rather die with a thousand failed attempts than listen to you and try nothing.

Oh-so-very Sincerely,
Matt

In the dark, but not alone

Do you know what to do when it hits you?

When my dreams are large but I can’t pull them off. When I feel the desire throb within me like a wound. When it aches and spreads through my chest into my head. When I want it so bad I feel like I’ll die without it. And then, when the pain is at its height, I try to get up and fulfill the dream, but I cannot. Do you know that feeling? When you could do it – for there’s nothing really in your way – but you cannot? Your heart dies as you approach your dream and suddenly all the pain of desire turns on its head and becomes a pain of revulsion. Resistance. Anger. And then you sit back down and you wonder to yourself – “Do I hate my dream? I thought I loved it.” And you cannot tell what is wrong. And you cannot understand the depth of how screwed up you must be to passionately love and hate the same thing at the same time. Do you know that feeling? Have you felt that? Do you know what to do when it comes upon you?

I think that’s the time when it’s best to find somewhere dark and quiet, and pray.

And it helps, y’know. It actually helps.