A Kick in the Butt!

I just received a very pleasant kick in the butt.  An enjoyable slap in the face.  A lovely pull of the rug from under my feet.

And, you, lucky you, are privy to this kick, this slap, this rug pulling.  Just read Kim’s comment on my last post.  Yes, the comment in which (and I am paraphrasing here) she implores me to stop whining (she didn’t say whining, that’s all me) and seeking out approval.  Write, she says.  Write for you.  Just write.

She is absolutely correct.  (She even went so far as to say that I frustrate my audience with my lack of confidence.  Hoo-yah!)

I could go on and on about when and how this happened to me: this shift into needing constant approval, this inability to write without the audience in mind, this lack of confidence.

But, I won’t.  I will spare you.

Instead, I will focus on a turn around, a lesson, an unfurling if you will.

(I should say, however, that I almost want to quit blogging because that begs for audience approval.  But, I won’t.  I’ll just be more ballsy about it!)

Many years ago, a dear friend gave me a copy of Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke.  I have often turned to it to reread portions that I underlined or commented on.  There is one line, really just a segment of a line, has always drawn me back to it:

“… love your solitude and bear with sweet-sounding lamentation the suffering it causes you.”

Of course, Rilke is suggesting that solitude causes pain, but he also is commenting on the fact that solitude is both inescapable and necessary.  For me, in this moment, this is much like the Kerouac quote that I referred to in earlier posts.  The quote about the world opening up to you when you have no dreams.  Right now, for me, the Rilke quote is not about the suffering but the sweet-sounding lamentation, the acceptance of solitude, the knowledge that we are in this life alone and that we have to look to ourselves for confidence and approval.  I know I am tainting Rilke’s thought with my own spin.  That I am overreaching here.  But, what are literary works for if you cannot mold them into your own moment?

Rilke goes on to say:

“… rejoice in your growth, in which you naturally can take no one with you, and be kind to those who remain behind, and be sure and calm before them and do not torment them with your doubts and do not frighten them with your confidence or joy, which they could not understand.”

Yes, there is a bit of I and Thou here.  A bit of superiority.  But, there is also the idea that we are on this journey alone.  That we will grow and that we will grow independently of each other.  That we, again, need to temper our desire for other’s approval and that we should also, perhaps, temper our output as well.

You may be thinking that I have Rilke all wrong here.  That he is talking solely about embracing suffering and acknowledging superiority.  (You know, the idea that the top is a lonely place to be.)  But, I am feeling inspired by my sense of solitude, by the opportunity I have to grow, by the idea that I should walk confidently and without ego.  Yes, I am inspired.

Thank you Kim for your honesty.

I think I will go finish the short story that I started last night with little thought as to who, if anyone, will ever read it.




  1. Kim said,

    August 2, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I love you as a dear friend AND as a writer, but I feel you’ve been holding back a bit in the latter department. I was debating whether or not I should’ve sent you that comment privately, or in person, even, but the fact is you’ve put yourself out here with this blog. AND you’ve all but begged us to provide input. Perhaps re-affirming input is what you were going for (which you never mentioned, but I did that, too!), but let’s face it…you’ve been stuck. You are too good of writer to waste your energy worrying about anything, much less your audience. I wish you could crawl inside my mind and see just how much I believe in you and your lovely, heartfelt, snarky, humorous writing!

  2. ecoolbeth said,

    August 2, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    No, you did the right thing. I wasn’t going for re-affirming input, just honesty. Thanks! I have been stuck. And, it is not just with this writing thing. I’ve been stuck in life. I can name off so many ways… Your “kick in the butt” is re-affirming and inspiring because it reminds me of who I am and how I need to move. Again, thanks. I am definitely on the dawn of something big and I needed this.

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