The human mind is one of the few places where two opposing things can be true at the same time. The tension between opposites gives rise to what’s exciting about life.
Control – Surrender
Momentum – Stasis
Intellect – Heart
Masculine – Feminine
Strength – Flexibility
Communal – Individual
Gravity – Laughter
Life – Death
Subatomic – Cosmic
I recently returned from a miniature vacation and feel ready to tackle what’s next, which will include the next step for my novel-in-progress (more on that in a future post).
While on vacation, a few more story ideas came to me in the form of single lines or titles, as they often do. My traveling companion (more familiarly known as my husband) and I also had a chance to talk about things we haven’t talked about in a while, including my writing career. As he has in the past, he counseled me to write something for a popular genre. I again demurred. No—more than demurred: I howled in protest.
“I don’t want to!”
I can think of few things less exciting than writing strictly to appeal to a “market.” Take this idea to its absurd end and you get something like professor Philip M. Parker, who has created hundreds of thousands of books using a patented computer program.
I write because I must, not to make money. Of course, I want people to read my work, which implies selling it to a market. And therein lies the root of my lifelong struggle.
But—and here’s where the co-existence of opposites comes in—who’s to say that writing for myself and writing for profit are mutually exclusive?
I have yet to discover the precise way these two impulses will work together. Nevertheless, as I reminded my husband, my fiction has been published—and paid for—a number of times in the last year or so.
And, if I remain attuned to the forces that turn inward and those that pulse outward, to stillness and action, to reflection and work, I can encompass these seemingly opposing tendencies.
After all, this co-existence of opposites is an old, old idea.
What opposing forces co-exist in your life?