Monday, November 12, 2007

Two Wolves

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It i s joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grand son thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

I believe this is true not only of "good" and "evil" but also of what you can accomplish in other ways. If you "feed" your writing and your muse you will end up with a better written book. To feed is to learn all you can about the writing process, listen to advice with an open mind, and be willing to take chances when writing. Don't always play it save with scenes and characters.

You will hinder the writing process if you feed the doubts and insecurities. Always feed the positive thoughts and let the negative ones starve. It isn't always easy to stay positive in a world where rejection is more the norm, but if you want to succeed as a writer, you have to grow a tough skin and remember to feed the right wolf.

Which are you, a cup is half empty or a cup is half full kind of person? And how does that affect your writing?


Lisa Pulliam said...

I'd say most of the time I'm a cup half full type of person. But there are days when it sure as heck seems half empty. I'm not sure how it affects my writing. Even when I feel like I'm happy and things are good, I don't always write. It's very willy nilly. Sometimes I write more when I'm not happy, other times when I'm happy. Sigh. I just don't know.

Alice Sharpe said...

I like your, what is it, a parable? Is that right?

I strive to feed the good wolf but am guilty of throwing scraps to the bad wolf.

Playing devil's advocate, which I have to admit I like to do at times, I wonder if writers don't need to feel the full spectrum of emotions as characters certainly need to exhibit bits of all of these things. And villains need to wallow with the bad wolf.

Further, say you are jealous of someone. If that jealousy takes the form of you striving harder to attain that which you crave and you don't use your jealousy to destroy or inflict pain, then can't a negative emotion turn into a positive one?

I grew up learning that I can't necessarily pick which emotional response I have to a situation. I will feel angry or sad or whatever. What I can control is how I allow these emotions to control me, or better said, perhaps, how I control the emotions.

That's what I tried to teach my kids. All emotional responses are legitimate, it's how you behave that matters and consequently, many times how you behave modifies the intensity of the emotion. Which is exactly, I think, what the old Cherokee was telling his grandson.

Interesting topic for a Monday morning, Paty. And you're right, to succeed at being a writer you do need that tough skin (and, I would also say you need at least a little ego.)

Karen Duvall said...

I'd have to say I'm definitely a cup half full type of person. I always look ahead of me rather than behind, and most of what I see is positive because I have the power to make it that way.

Lately my cup is really dirty, too, as it reflects the condition of my house. Don't want to clean it, don't care to, and I have better things to do anyway. By the way, Alice, that damn refrigerator is still there this morning and just as dirty as it was yesterday.

My cup is also slow to fill because it's waiting until the last minute. It's a procrastinator cup. Kind of reflective of me. Heh.

Alice Sharpe said...

Oh, and Lisa, it sounds to me as though you are at that stage of writer-hood where you write when whim and mood dictates.

If that's true, establishing an unbreakable pattern of a half hour (or whatever) five days a week that is as inviolate as brushing your teeth or reading your very favorite blog or going to work where a boss clocks you in and hands over a pay check and using that time to write on a book, on a journal, or just to write free association, might be the key to you stepping into the next phase (where you will definitely write shorter sentences than this one!)

If that's where you want to go.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Interesting blog, Paty. I know a few writers who have listened to the evil wolf. They're not so much fun to be around.

I'm a glass half-full person, definitely. On those occasions where I'm feeling down, I don't write. I tend to pick up a book and read instead.

Danita Cahill said...

I'd say I'm half-full. Guess that's all of us, eh?

But still, that big bad wolf still creeps in and steals my ice cream now and then and turns it into jealousy, anger, hostility -- you get the picture.

My latest book is based on the premise of good and evil, or in this case, love and fear. An age old story line.

I'm like Eli, if things aren't right for writing, I read. And analyze what I've read so I can learn from it.

Paty Jager said...

Everyone had some great thoughts and ideas and things they do. Thanks! I actually came on here once yesterday and added a comment and asked to have follow up comments sent to me. Looks like for some reason the blogger didn't like me! Oh well!

I'm hoping to get back into the WIP soon. Still trying to get caught up...

Genene said...

I'm definitely a cup half-full type of person. How does that affect my writing? Hmmm, maybe I don't dig into the conflict as deeply as I could. Or maybe I stay up too late and think I won't need as much sleep as my body thinks it should have! (Which is what I've done again, so good-night all!)