When an true epiphany hits it’s never a quiet or subtle event, it strikes you like an elephant falling through the ceiling. Surprising in its action, and befuddling in its reason.
Its a very rare occurrence and should never be taken lightly or dismissed without pondering it for what it is. Spiritual folk will see it as a sign from on high. Less attuned people will view it as luck or serendipity.
Whichever school of thought one hails from, the end result is the same, the presentation of a life altering choice. And a thinking person cannot step away from it without heading in a new direction.
Such is the cause for some of the best creative minds to head down the road towards their calling. The personal decision is often called “burning your boats”. The term stems back to Homer (the ancient writer/historian not the Simpson’s) and the telling of the Battle of Troy.
Hector came ashore and ordered the boats burned as a sign of complete commitment to the war. And it is that kind of, some would say insane, dedication, that the best writers must apply to themselves in order to generate the works that they are truly capable of producing.
The “burning of your boats” can be applied to most any profession or relationship that one intends to put their full devotion and heart into, not just writing.
But it is the professionally creative ways to make a living, the uncommon and misunderstood careers, that demand the torching of the way back. The cutting off of a safe way out, a fallback, or a security net that will save you, must be removed in order to motivate the mind into action.
If one keeps one foot in safety, just dabbling in the creative arts, its a hobby not a profession. To give yourself completely to writing, knowing that your next mortgage payment, or even your next meal will only happen because of the words you write today, is the incentive of the truly creative, the masters of the art.
Can good writing be done without this drastic realization and whole-hearted commitment? Sure.
But the best of the best can only be done when the reasons for putting pen to paper are deep and the stakes are high. True emotion and feeling cannot be faked, it must be felt. And felt to your core.
When that elephant falls through the ceiling and lands in your lap, take a second and think hard about it before you brush it off as some random occurrence and continue on your ho-hum life. Take the beast by the tusks and step out onto that shore. Burn your boats and truly live for the first time in your life.