The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Note on accepting the Challenge

I just got this note:


O.K. I understand accepting the challenge and being honest with myself and losing fear. I have dealt with that. How do you deal with others claiming your work as theirs, personally putting up barriers to keep one from getting ahead, oh, and not being able to respect the privacy of thought or space?



Honesty and dealing with fear are not things one “has dealt with.” They are daily struggles this side of the grave, and if you think otherwise, you may not be peeking in the right parts of your psyche. Other people may try to take what you create, as thieves may try to steal your possessions. Understanding your rights (registering scripts with the Writer’s Guild, etc.) is a part of this, but it all, and always boils down to a flat-out commitment to protecting yourself and your family in all ways. When you talk about people “putting up barriers” and “not respecting your privacy” then you are saying that the power to create your dreams is dependant on other people. If this was true, no one would ever reach their dreams. YOU are responsible. People will respect you as much as YOU demand. YOU must set the boundaries and barriers. YOU must negotiate your relationships so as to navigate whatever obstacles are presented to you.

No one is going to give it to you, J.M. So you must be stronger, and clearer, than the forces that oppose. This starts with a commitment to taking one hour a day back from the world. In that single hour, you can exercise, read, clarify goals, write 3000 words a week, meditate. Yes, the world will try to interfere. This is true for everyone. Everyone. Unless you bare your teeth and force your friends, family, co-workers, whatever to BACK OFF for a few precious minutes a day, you’ll allow your dreams to be eaten by the endless flow of life. The people around you, however wonderful they may be, will take all of you that isn’t nailed down. And then try to guilt trip you if you demand some personal time. That’s the way people are—unless you stand up to them.

And this is where we come back to the first statement. The only reason you don’t stand up to them is fear. Fear of rejection, of being labeled a bad daughter or mother or wife or employee if you don’t give everything you have, every hour of the day.

But look around. Who are the people who are really most respected and loved? I promise you that they are people who respect THEMSELVES, who take time for themselves, who have actualized themselves and are manifesting their dreams. They are people who are not afraid of pointing fingers, and wagging tongues. The crazy thing is that if you demand time for yourself (one hour out of 24? Hardly the height of selfishness!) you are giving others permission to follow their own dream.

But your first step is to never again expect people to “give you” this space. Children are “given space.” Adults take it for themselves.

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