Anxiety, Worry, and the Art of Writing

Last night I found myself at a camp-meeting revival service I had not intended to attend. I had the option to walk away, but figured what harm could come from being polite and sitting through a sermon … other than mosquitos. It is funny how we can find ourselves in positions that make us think when we had planned on nothing more than a quiet evening with friends around a fire, by their little cottage at the campground.

Anyway, the wandering camp-preacher spoke on anxiety.

I understand some of you are church folk, others are not, some follow a variety of faiths, and others follow a single belief. But we all stand united in being human. As humans we all suffer from some degree of anxiety.

Granted, most of us share emotions in general. Emotions separate us from the beasts. But let’s be honest, anxiety and worry about tomorrow makes us more evolved. I know some of you biologists out there will tell me animals stockpile for winter, or build their homes with tomorrow in mind. I guess that would lead to the question, do we worry because of instinct or experience, or knowledge and understanding?

The interesting thing is that while anxiety can help us be prepared for the unknown, it’s more like a double-bladed knife. It can protect us, but it also damages us. Anxiety has all sorts of physical side effects on the body. If you don’t believe me, click here.

Well the preacher talked about anxiety being the inability to trust outside of ourselves, whether that is other people, the world, or God.

The sermon started my mind churning.

I have long prided myself on being relaxed and flexible. I understand that there is more in this world outside of our control than in our control. From my perspective, there’s no point in worrying about what you can’t control … I think. But that rabbit-hole led me to writing. Do I worry about writing? Does it cause me anxiety? Will writing shorten my life?

I hope not.

Years ago I read The Agony and the Ecstasy. I’m not sure how much of an impact it had, as I’m finally referring to it now, but it slipped into my ponderings last night. As the title of the book implies, it was not all smooth sailing for Michaelangelo in his artistic release. Art nearly drove him mad at times. I guess I’m different. For me, writing is an outlet. It allows me to process thoughts, digest them, form them into something that makes sense. Not all my writing sees the light of day for that very reason. But I feel like art, in its Hydra headed form, is supposed to be that outlet. It should relieve stress as the artist processes and creates.

I think what it boils down to is the only anxiety in art is the artist’s belief that what others think of the art is what truly matters.

There in lies the question of why do we care?

If we create to appease others it is no longer art, instead it has become a craft.

Does that mean my writing is not art, but a craft since I want to market it? I don’t know.

But then again, I don’t know that anyone calls the space-western genre art. I’m chuckling as I write this. My writing serves two purposes. It is a release and it is an adventure. I’m not trying to change the world or write the next classic. I wouldn’t complain if one of my books sold like The Davinci Code, but that’s not my goal.

I want to write a fun yarn. I want an adventure that my kids (and everyone else) can read and be transported. I want people to fly into the Black and not want to come out.

For me, anxiety it what you leave behind when you slip into a good book.

In that vein, slip into your own new book, keep letting go of anxiety, and keep on flying the Black

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