It’s not you, it’s the work

by eleanoreetienne

Going through the inevitable submission-rejection process, can be more than a little bruising.  I know, I’m there now.  The need to write is matched only by the desire for the work to be good, and acknowledged as such.  (Can’t you hear my writer’s ego whispering ‘read-me read-me, like-me like-me’?)

The oft quoted, Agnes de Mille may have felt the same way:

I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be. Martha said to me, very quietly: “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

– de Mille, Agnes (1991) Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham.

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