The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Self-Love and creativity

Self Love

"I hate myself." Remember I said a colleague said this to me? And that it suddenly helped to explain an entire raft of negative results he had gotten in his life?

Thirty years ago, when I was a baby writer, an older, more established writer handed me a business card. It read: "(NAME). Freelance hack and literary mechanic."

Not surprisingly, this man was dead within eighteen months, due to alcohol poisoning. What kind of self-image was that? A hack is someone who creates material he himself would not read, or view, or recommend to anyone he respected. Someone who is not working at the edge of his ability. What does that have to do with self-love? Or success?


1) Success demands taking chances. Your optimal expression of skill and "talent" will always come when you are immersed in the experience of creation, and usually when you are walking the tightrope.

2) Working at the edge means you are constantly risking failure. You have to have a re-integration strategy in place, to help you when failure triggers depression and anger. And if you have genuinely invested yourself? Trust me, your negative voices will come boiling up.

3) Think about this emotional response in child terms. When your child fails, they hurt. They not only want to know you have confidence that they can "do" it, but reassurance that you love them for their own sake, separate from their ability to "do." To be able to take risks, they HAVE to know that there is a bedrock, something that they are not risking. And that is your love.

I don't love my son Jason, because he is a "human do-ing." I love him because he is my boy, and a divine gift, and a "human be-ing." We have to give ourselves that same gift of confidence and support.

No matter what happens. No matter if you fail or succeed. No matter what anyone else must love yourself. If you don't, you'll spent your life either bitter, or seeking that approval from others. And nothing anyone outside you ever does can fill your heart. People who expect you to "make them happy" are playing a nasty little con game. Don't be one of them.