Enemy of the Art Part 6—The Land of Good Enough
Countless people aspire to be successful writers (The Many), but of all of those, only a small percentage will make it (The Few). Why won’t The Many make it? They get side-tracked and wander in circles in The Land of Good Enough. One of the largest problems with The Many? The Many believe in “Safety, first.” They trade short-term thrills for long-term happiness. They are often depressed, overweight, stressed because, on some level, they feel in their souls that they sold out.
And they would be correct.
I’m not judging The Many. I spent over a third of my life among them in the Land of Good Enough. The Land of Good Enough is an easy place to end up. In fact, most of us live there at least a time or two in life.
It’s the breaking free that’s the trick.
The Land of Good Enough is the realm of paycheck-to-paycheck living, dead end jobs that suck away our souls, routine, safety and predictability. It’s a place where we settle when we are too scared to step onto our sacred path and dare to see if we have what it takes to be a real artist.
Most people aren’t even aware they live in The Land of Good Enough. They dull the pain with food, TV, addiction and drama. They need all kinds of artificial stimulation because they have traded authentic passion for the Devil’s shill. It makes me think of a C.S. Lewis quote:
The safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.
Of course, when I use the term “Hell” I’m not referring to a fiery inferno where bad people go to be stabbed for all eternity with pitchforks. I am referring to the very real hell many people live in, the hell I barley escaped and that I still must guard against every day. Most of us don’t even realize we’ve landed in hell until we are already there.
And that is the scary part.
When I was in sales, I had to pull over every day to throw up. I hated my job THAT much. But become a writer? Are you nuts?
Really? Just, really Kristen. Because puking every day because of stress was so awesome. NOT.
Many of us follow the rules and listen to our teachers and what Madison Avenue tells us and we don’t realize that the landscape is sloping gently downward and the temperature is slowly rising.
In this type of Hell, The Many die even while they’re still breathing. They become the walking dead, those who go through the motions, not yet dead but never really living. They are caffeinated, medicated zombies who have traded safety for their very soul. The Land of Good Enough makes me think of the line from The Sixth Sense:
I see dead people. Walking around like regular people. They don’t see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re dead. All the time. They’re everywhere.
The Many live in a delusion, they don’t know they’re dead. In their minds, they are practical, safe, and normal (and have a great job in sales *head desk*).
Creatives seem to be particularly vulnerable to getting stuck in The Land of Good Enough and that is why it is on my list of Enemies of the Art. We face different hurdles that other professions and I feel our journey from amateur hobbyist to professional is more fraught with danger than any other field. The price is also higher. Yes, many people will settle in The Land of Good Enough, and it is a personal purgatory. But, for Creatives, the Land of Good Enough is far more insidious.
True artists don’t create because we can, but because we must. When we are disconnected from the muse, we die a deeper death than most, and what makes us different is that when we die, we are not the only ones who suffer. The world suffers. The world our unspoken art failed to change.
Embrace the Resistance!
The Land of Good Enough is an easy place to get lost. This is why we must fight. Write goals, revise goals. Have friends that will send in the flying monkeys if we don’t hold to deadlines. Press. Keep pressing and understand the pressing never ever stops. That’s what we sign up for when we strive to be excellent in out craft.
But it’s worth it ;).
Have you been trapped in The Land of Good Enough? How did you break free? Are you still struggling there? Why are you afraid to step away? I love hearing from you!
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Again, I LOVE hearing from you…
To prove it and show my love, for the month of February, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of February I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
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