Have you ever bought into a lie about yourself, something you knew wasn’t true, but you bought it anyway? In fact, not just bought it, but bought it wholesale, like there is a low elf-esteem clearance sale going on. And you had coupons.

I’m trying to figure out why I have been in such a “blah” mood when it comes to my writing. Maybe not so much blah, as much as “unmotivated”. To at least feel productive, I’m doing research for a story that I’m on deadline to write. For that matter, I’ve just wrapped up a short story that I’m letting sit before I re-visit it with a fresh eye. And there is the research for the book-blog experiment I’m helping launch next year. I still have television and comic book reviews to turn in. I have two novels that need revisions and two more that need to be outlined. I really ought to write part two of the blog I started only a few days ago.

With all these projects on my to do list, I still can’t help but feel discouraged like Qoholet–the Teacher, to whom the book of Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew Bible is attributed–and throw my hands in the air in a rant of “all is meaningless.”

All of this mood, the source of my “why do I even bother to write” discouragement, originated from the lips of the most fundamental of packages.

My mother.

For two minutes, what I’m sure meant to be “keep at it, honey, your time will soon come” came out along the lines of “why haven’t you gotten a book deal yet? Other people get their book deals right away.” Then she proceeded to tell me how the publishing industry works, how my time could be put to better use, and why I’m not seeing the kind of money (fill in the blank) is making at his job. Mothers have a way of knowing what buttons to push, even inadvertently (however well-intentioned). So that even my latest sale not even two weeks ago tastes like ashes in my mouth.

Basically, I was taken back to the guest blog I did for Brian Keene called Parenting and L’art Pour L’art: Writing, despite our most fervent daydreams, it is not exactly the fast track to riches. We write, we indulge our muse, because we have to. In order to still the voices in our head. Because something in the core of our being crawls up and takes hold of us to move pen to paper. I sympathize with any parent who sees their child toiling away at any “worthless” endeavor, because they want the best for their children. The French call it “l’art pour l’art,” art for the sake of art, and it isn’t practical … Over a civil cup of tea, [my mother] managed to squeeze in a bit of commentary asking when I would quit wasting my time with this writing thing. After all, I wasn’t making any real money doing it. She never saw herself as being particularly discouraging; this was just her typical brand of “negative encouragement” as she tried to steer me back on a course she judged to be more realistic.

It’s odd to hear or feel that 90% of your life is a waste, but I know I have to snap out of this. Luckily for me, I have three things working in my favor. The work and deadlines loom with enough tacit pressure. The work has to be done. Plus, I have a strong community around me. Friends who support me, prop me up if they have to. Colleagues who have been there, not with my mother, but we all have our discouragers. And my faith.

Faith? How are you going to bring your faith into this? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’m convinced that when you do what you were meant to do, it is to the delight of the Lord. It helps that I also think that one reason Christianity has become so seemingly dry and dull is because we don’t allow room for each other to wrestle with art. Instead of letting it speak to and through us, we feel uncomfortable unless we make it conform to established dogma, being more propaganda than art.

It boils down to the fact that my priorities are not her priorities. I can’t live her life and she can’t live her life through me. I simply needed to remind myself of that.

And gear up because the holidays are soon upon me.

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