Commitment Versus Addiction

On the face of it these two things look alike. Both require a singular focus, determination, ruthless acquisition and a kind of do or die I can’t live without it attitude. I have known (still know) writers who have persevered unpublished for years and yet remain buoyantly committed to excellence and of daily endeavor. They say they will never give up. They have few friends, little money, no holidays, not much in the way of furniture and their rentals are cheap bedsits. Family members have long given up urging them to change careers, earn some money, do something else, get a life. Friends have moved on. Lovers have left unnoticed. I have also known drug addicts and alcoholics who live for the next fix or drink. They have few friends, little money, no life, shabby bedsits and lovers who leave unnoticed. I once read the post of a well-known literary agent who urged writers to evaluate their struggle and possibly recognize it as an addiction. In short, he said, if you keep being rejected, consider giving up and trying something else. I understand he meant well. I also know that had Van Gogh given up, despite selling only one painting in his lifetime, the world would be a poorer place. Vincent didn’t start out as a genius. He was an average artist who worked every day in a highly disciplined fashion. He measured his incremental improvements and experimented with color and texture until he struck a seam of pure gold genius…his soul. He was on track and on his path. Being on your right path in life has a signature and it’s worth noting what that is…it “feels” right. Addiction is a form of giving up. Commitment is a celebration of faith. The addict looks to substance, short-term gain and easy solutions to feel fulfilled. The person committed to a goal delays gratification, works hard, notes every minor improvement, stabilizes disappointment with the ballast of achievement and keeps faith with his/her art.

Advertisements