The other day I was browsing through some books, opened one up, and read (to paraphrase), “Desperation is a negative energy that drives away that which you want most.”
I guess that’s true to a certain degree, at least with relationships between people. But when it comes to work — to writing, the arts, practicing law, medicine, being a social worker, whatever it is you do — I’m not sure a little desperation is such a bad thing.
The actual definition of desperation is: a state of despair, typically one that results in rash or extreme behavior.
Sounds harsh, right? And there are plenty of people who would say that the endeavor of writing a book — of devoting one’s self to the arts — is quite rash, and possibly extreme. There’s no safety net, no guarantee of success.
Before I was ever published, I wrote from a place of joy (and hunger), I wrote because I had to (because I couldn’t imagine the alternative), because I loved words (I would be in despair without them). I was desperate to write. I was as desperate as the dictionary definition (desperate and desperation are slightly different, yes, but both reside in a place of similar, extreme, needs). I was not, however, desperate to be published — though that was the logical next step.
Writing, on the other hand…man, oh, man. It’s impossible to explain without sounding melodramatic or self-indulgent.
Let’s just say that if it wasn’t words, it would be paint. If it wasn’t paint, it would be dance. If not dance, then music. But there’s something in me that has always had to come out. It can’t stay bottled up. Trying would be the same as making a little voodoo doll of despair and painting my name all over it. Boo-hoo.
But that’s what I mean about desperation. It’s not always a bad thing. It’s not always negative. Being desperate to do something that fulfills you doesn’t (in my mind) pour bad energy into the world (and before anyone brings up acts of crime or malice, let’s get real — thanks — and assume I’m not including those). Instead, in such instances I see desperation in the same light as inspiration.
In my life the two are inextricably linked. My desperation to create feeds my inspiration — and, in turn, my inspiration only makes my desperation to create burn brighter. Nothing is driven away, or excluded. Just the opposite.
There’s an interesting post at White Hot Truth about the difference between motivation and inspiration: “Inspiration. It is magnetic and progressive. Its reasoning cannot always be reasoned — I just gotta do it. It busts you outta shouldsville into the unfenced field of freedom and possibility.”