19 April 2017

Guest post: On Worms and Butterflies by D Gilman Wakeli

Today I'm ecstatic to welcome my friend and fellow author D Gilman Wakeli to the blog to talk about one of the barriers to creative work that she explores in her first book, the forthcoming How to NOT Write a Book, in which she explores the deep-seated reasons we don't begin - and don't finish - writing.

On Worms and Butterflies 
by D Gilman Wakeli

Why do we refuse to finish our work? Why do we refuse transformation?

During the many times I left work unfinished, I thought of many logical, rational sounding reasons, many things to blame. But I could never find that one right reason that, if I could fix, would solve the problem. I never found a logical reason because I don’t believe the answer is logical or reasonable.

Transformation is deeply personal. And the reasons we refuse it are also deeply personal. Finishing, changing, letting go, becoming someone new, reaching our potential are all interpersonal experiences. No one faces them in the same way. And these experiences are subtle.

Outwardly, reaching my potential sounded like my life’s greatest achievement. But inwardly, unconsciously, I worried about the reality of what transformation really meant for the safety of the person I already was. The angst of an unfinished draft might have been uncomfortable, but it was familiar and small compared to uncertainty and vulnerability of my potential.

When I refused transformation,
…I developed the muscle to quit instead of the muscle to finish. I know that as long as I refused to transform, to culminate my process by finishing my story, I never had to risk taking a next step. I never had to feel uncertain. I never had to decide the book was good enough to move forward to rewriting. I didn’t have to polish that great ending. I could avoid the discovery that the book might not be good and I had wasted my time. I didn’t have to find out if I had transformed into a writer I could respect. I didn’t have to feel disappointment that things hadn’t work out the way I had planned or fear that I simply wasn’t heroic enough to command my own life. (From How to NOT Write a Book)
Many months ago, I entered the transformational undertaking called the writing process. Here in this process I moved step by step from beginning to middle to end. I have completed a book. The cocoon where I have worked, worm-like, each day building this book can no longer accommodate me. I have completed a transformation. I’ve morphed into a butterfly. Whether I’m perceived as a fetching butterfly or a ghastly one, a beneficial or useless one remains to be seen and is beyond my control.

The key word here is completed.

In my book, I write about all the obstacles I used to hold myself back from writing. As writers, we are all the protagonists of our own writing process. Working through my own creative barriers, I found that the process a writer goes though writing their stories mirrors the process a protagonists goes through getting to the finale of their journey. If we refuse to begin our writing, we won’t get anywhere. If we refuse to pass through the slow middle of our stories, our progress will stop, and if we refuse to finish our stories, then, just like the protagonist, we will never experience a transformation. Without knowing completion, our accumulated development will diminish. We will remain forever cocooned, never knowing what is beyond the work of the worm.

Worms are extraordinary. They do the heavy lifting of preparation, the hard work of development. But in the end, they must yield to transformation or die. As humans, we can’t stay untransformed or we’ll die inwardly. Suffocated by our own need for room. If we refuse to complete, to transform, we will never know our new form: the writer beyond the other side of The End.

Coming to Amazon on April 23rd!
Book Description
It is our inner world we must restore and enrich in order to access our creativity.

This is not a traditional self-help book on writing. It is not a book about fixing writing problems with more rules. It does not contain any quick how-to’s or writing tips. This is a book of removal. How to NOT Write a Book asserts that it’s not our external conditions that prevent us from fully expressing ourselves, but rather our damaging inner beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions about ourselves and our lives. Consequently, it is our inner world we must restore and enrich in order to access our creativity.

Drawing on Wakeli’s own experience as the model for not writing and using story and metaphor, the author looks at all the ways we bind our creative selves and offers a philosophy for cultivating a change in perception so that the writer already available inside us is allowed to emerge naturally.

About the Author 
D Gilman Wakeli is not an award winning NYT best selling author or an expert in advising to people about how to fix their writing dilemmas. Her interest isn’t in adding more external rules to initiate creativity, but rather in supporting people in liberating themselves from what inwardly binds them from experiencing the creativity already inside them. Real change, she feels, starts with changing our inner perceptions. She lives in Portland, Oregon with a husband, a writing talisman named Burgess, and lots of books.

After over 20 years of not-writing, How to NOT Write a Book is her first completed book and will be published on April 23, 2017.

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