Tag Archives: psychology

In The Library Of The Mind

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I’m writing this in 2021, a year of plague, political unrest, and climate change. As I write it, I find myself asking what value my writing has and how it can live on to help people. If you are a writer, artist, or other creative, such doubts and concerns may plague you as well.

We can hope people buy our books, treasure them, and pass them on. Perhaps our works will live on as legacies. Maybe we can make donations to libraries or Little Free Libraries. We may reach people unborn, when they find a peculiar book on a shelf.

But books rot, and decay, and fall apart.

Perhaps we can live on in electronic formats. The internet spans the world, and data storage is cheap. Our legacy may be in electrons, pieces of ourselves in a digital afterlife of ebooks.

But can we count on those who distribute them? Businesses are self-interested, and technology changes.

All of this, all of this counts on people taking an interest in our works. Even if our mark is made in libraries and scrawled on silicon, people may not care.

I won’t lie. I certainly hope my work leaves a legacy, that it is read after I am gone. I hope enough of the world is here, so I have a chance to enlighten or entertain or confuse someone after I’m gone.

But I’ve learned – again and again – that a good writer wants to make an impression now.

Many an author I’ve met speaks of “that one person” – the person whose life changed due to their book. I’ve had that experience, and to see your work change a life reminds you that your creations matter. You make an impression.

Then there are the reviews. That one review on a website that says your book made a difference. Maybe you weren’t a life-changer, but you made their life a bit better. You make an impression.

There are sales, newsletters, blog posts like this one. Each one is a chance to reach people. Each is a chance to make an impression.

These impressions we make don’t end. They shape lives, direct people, and change them. Those changes live on in what they do, who they talk to, and how they think. If you wish, you can easily think of it as obvious karma.

Maybe we even make the world better enough that it outlasts the troubles we’ve created.

Our work, first and foremost, must improve others. Let it live in the libraries of the mind.

Steven Savage

It Was Always Your Story

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

My fellow writer Serdar is busy working on Unmortal, his next novel, but has just announced the work to follow. He’ll be writing “Charisma,” a story that started as a practice book cover with a Geisha and a dog. Our crowd latched onto the intriguing cover, and in time he evolved an actual story – of a woman and her pet in a world where coolness is power. 

Serdar went through several iterations to make the story his – as he notes, “This, whatever it is I have here, I’m the only one who can write it as far as I know.” Those are good words for any creative to live by – create the thing that only you can create.

Living by those words is the problem, as we face many challenges to do otherwise.

We want to make money and figure there’s no way “what I truly can do” will make money. We want to share but fear that what’s truly in our heart as an artist won’t reach others. We have many other fears – ridicule, misunderstanding, and more.

It can get to the point that we don’t even know what we want to create or make. It’s hard to know oneself at the best of times. It’s harder when you’re carrying the burden of fears and expectations.

I’ve come to think of the “what is the thing only I can make” is best answered by getting out there and doing it. I’m not saying you can snap your fingers and make your fears and questions vanish; I’m saying you might as well move forward anyway.

Write, draw, create, plot. Rewrite, redraw, replot.

You’re going to doubt yourself and your ideas. You’re going to question yourself and who you are. This doesn’t alienate you – it makes you like almost all of your fellow creatives.

But if you keep moving down the road, there’s a chance you’re going to meet yourself and figure out what’s the thing only you can do.

Your own super-cool Geisha with a dog is out there.

Steven Savage

Physical Therapy For The Soul

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

My creative side has felt, for lack of a better word, arthritic throughout the Pandemic. It was there, I created, but neither as fast nor as joyfully as I had before. Sometimes I was scared, as it felt part of me was ossifying – creativity is part of me.

My remedy was to do what I do – organize. I kept to a regular plan for things like writing my blog posts. I planned – and re-planned my various works. I made time to read and to write. Even when I didn’t feel it, I did my best to move forward.

It wasn’t always joyful – sometimes I had that bone-on-bone sensation of grinding grimly forward. There were days my only pleasure was checking off a task or noting I’d written for an hour. If I kept knowing, I knew I’d get back to being myself.

While I persevered, I would feel that creative spark, that joy of making. It might be for a day or a week, but it was there. As long as I kept moving forward, the drudgery gave way to bright shining moments of creation.

In time, especially as of late, I began to feel like my old self. That spark, that flexibility, that urge would come more and more. I’m sure some of it was hope as the Pandemic promised an end, but some of it felt like another experience.

A few times, I’ve had to have physical therapy for an injury. I realized what I experienced here with my creativity was similar. I’ve had pulled, damaged, or stiff muscles addressed with regular and specific exercises. My creative returns felt the same as those days I realized that the pain or stiffness of a damaged muscle was going or gone.

What I did with my planning and scheduling and at-times repetitive drudgery was doing “physical therapy for the soul.” With enough exercise, my old mental flexibility and ability returned. I had given myself creative therapy without knowing it.

A lesson to take from this is that perhaps we can treat creative damage like a physical injury. We may need a rest or a break, but we may also need regular stretching and work to restore ourselves. The key is to see it as treatment – we should not treat the creative loss as a reason to punish ourselves. Some injuries you can’t “walk off.”

Instead, we should treat ourselves. We should find what will help us return and heal. I could have been more gentle with myself, and if I face this situation again, I can be more prescriptive.

Steven Savage