In search of my island – Part 2

Paulo Coelho

[...]

Shaken by these alarming thoughts, I find a strength and a courage I didn’t know I had: they help me to venture into an unknown part of my soul. I let myself be swept along by the current and finally anchor my boat at the island I was being carried towards. I spend days and nights describing what I see, wondering why I’m doing this, telling myself that it’s really not worth the pain and the effort, that I don’t need to prove anything to anyone, that I’ve got what I wanted and far more than I ever dreamed of having.

I notice that I go through the same process as I did when writing my first book: I wake up at nine o’clock in the morning, ready to sit down at my computer immediately after breakfast; then I read the newspapers, go for a walk, visit the nearest bar for a chat, come home, look at the computer, discover that I need to make several phone calls, look at the computer again, by which time lunch is ready, and I sit eating and thinking that I really ought to have started writing at eleven o’clock, but that now I need a nap; I wake at five in the afternoon, finally turn on the computer, go to check my e-mails, then remember that I’ve destroyed my Internet connection; I could go to a place ten minutes away where I can get on-line, but couldn’t I, just to free my conscience from these feelings of guilt, couldn’t I at least write for half an hour?

I begin out of a feeling of duty, but suddenly “the thing” takes hold of me and I can’t stop. The maid calls me for supper and I ask her not to interrupt me; an hour later, she calls me again; I’m hungry, but I must write just one more line, one more sentence, one more page. By the time I sit down at the table, the food is cold, I gobble it down and go back to the computer – I am no longer in control of where I place my feet, the island is being revealed to me, I am being propelled along its paths, finding things I have never even thought or dreamed of. I drink a cup of coffee, and another, and at two o’clock in the morning I finally stop writing, because my eyes are tired.

I go to bed, spend another hour making notes of things to use in the next paragraph and which always prove completely useless – they serve only to empty my mind so that sleep can come. I promise myself that the next morning, I’ll start at eleven o’clock prompt. And the following day, the same thing happens – the walk, the conversations, lunch, a nap, the feelings of guilt, then irritation at myself for destroying the Internet connection, until, at last, I make myself sit down and write the first page…

[...]

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Comments

  1. natalia says:

    …and I thought I was crazy.
    thank you for sharing this.. now I know I’m perfectly normal :)

  2. Savita Vega says:

    Dear Paulo,
    I want to thank you so much for sharing with us the details of your writing life – the struggles as well as the eventual triumphs, the fear, the anguish, the uncertainty, the procrastination. Sometimes when authors talk about writing, they leave out all the “unpleasant” stuff. They make it sound like something almost magical – a gentle breeze that lifts them up and takes them to the place they need to be – an act requiring of no effort or struggle on their part at all. This does a great injustice to other writers, I think, who do struggle, as it causes them to question whether they are really meant to do this at all. Your candidness and honesty in disclosing even the uncomfortable aspects of the writing process – the very fact that you still experience these same sorts of things after publishing numerous well-read books – is an inspiration to us all. It shows the very human side of the act of writing. It illustrates that the condition of struggle and the existence of obstacles do not necessarily indicate that one has chosen the wrong path – these aspects are inherent to the quest itself, regardless of what stage a person is at, whether a new writer, or an widely published author.

    Yesterday, on this blog, karen made a suggestion to me about my own writing, a way that I might circumvent some of the obstacles I am facing – simply take some of the things I have already written and collect them into a book of essays, then try to publish that. I cannot thank karen enough for her insight and advice, as I definitely am going to do what she suggested. When I went to bed last night, I was very excited about this prospect – I still am. But when I woke up this morning, I realized a thing that I never knew before. It isn't just the book I want. It isn't just to see something of mine (anything) in print, bound between two covers, and for sale in a bookstore. It is the challenge I want.

    If I could put together a book of essays and see it published, it would greatly please me, but I would still not be satisfied. I would still want to write a book of fiction. And again, it isn't seeing the book for sale on shelves (though that would be nice), it is the act of writing it, the challenge of pulling it all together and actually completing it. The elements of fiction are quite different from those of essay, and as much as I enjoy writing in essay format, I also just love entering into the realm of fiction, that magical place where any and all things are possible, where there is no limit to where the imagination might lead one, wherein the symbol, the metaphor becomes a sword as sharp and powerful as any blade ever carried by the most fearless Samurai.

    So, what I realized is that I can put together a book of essays, and this I will do, BUT, this does not free me from the imperative that exists deep in my soul, the voice from within insisting that I just must write a book of fiction. I really didn't know that it mattered to me that much until just now – until karen offered me a way “off the hook” so to speak, a way out of this without facing the challenges and obstacles that loom before me. As soon as I realized that I could escape, that I could take another way out, I realized that I don't want to. I actually WANT the challenge. I want to do as you do, Paulo – I want to persist until I triumph over the obstacles in my path.

    This means that I might have to be patient, more patient than I would like to be. Sometimes the obstacles that we face are internal. And sometimes, the only way to overcome these sorts of obstacles is to change ourselves. This can take time. Or, it might happen in two seconds. The point is that it has to happen. Whatever that necessary shift is – a shift in thinking, a shift in approach, a shift in one's habits, whatever it is – that shift has to happen before we can move forward. Whatever it takes for me to focus and concentrate on one theme, one story-line, one island, for the length of time it takes to complete a book – that is what has to happen.

    Thanks so much for revealing the fact that, even after writing and publishing so many highly successful books, you still “go through the same process as (you) did when writing (your) first book: …wake up at nine o’clock in the morning, ready to sit down at (the) computer immediately after breakfast; then…read the newspapers, go for a walk, visit the nearest bar for a chat, come home, look at the computer, discover that (you) need to make several phone calls, look at the computer again…” and so on. You still suffer from distractions and the tendency to procrastinate – anything to avoid facing that computer screen. But thanks also for reminding me of “the thing” – I call it my “dragon.” “I'm in the belly of The Dragon now,” I might say, meaning, don't bother me, I'm busy writing and no matter what you have to say or what you might want to offer me, I'm not interested, because I've been swallowed whole by this thing that won't let go of me until I finish this line, this paragraph, this page…. I love my Dragon – I should feed him more often.

    Much love,
    And with enormous gratitude!
    Savita

  3. ellie says:

    you say in this writing, part III that writing is, that you are but the writer, the messenger and the book the story comes through you. i am a not yet humble artist and i draw alot. in this way i am too the messenger. in mediation with my pen. i feel as though i do not plan to draw what comes out but out it does in beauty.
    thank you for the thoughts.

  4. wanice says:

    What a rare and unusual thing for a writer to open up his life and let others see what it is like to be a writer…
    allowing others to see your humanity…
    it is a beautiful thing…and it is encouraging to those of us who
    begin to think we are the only one who feels this way…
    it seems that most writers like to keep what they do a mystery…
    but here you are opening your heart and life to us all…
    writing does seem to be such an intimate and personal thing…
    it is not easy for us to be so naked before the eyes of the world…
    allowing others to see the innermost recesses of who we are…
    it works on all of our insecurities…
    thank you so much for continuing to do this…for you are encouraging the rest of us to set sail for our own islands…who knows but we may find we meet on some of them…

  5. orly says:

    when i read the day to day program- i think – we just all the same!!!! at the end of the day,,,,,,
    just the same!
    have a wonderful day-evening-nite etc
    orly

  6. Breda says:

    I recently sat down for the first time to write on this blog on my laptop I was so scared -will I /won’t I ???-and then the excitement of seeing what I had written in print!!!
    On this blog I have been prompted to remember and write about many differant things and aspects of my life.-What a marvellous warm . loving , intelligent fun community we have here-and brave. : )
    love,
    Breda

  7. B*Sofie says:

    Thanks Alexandra!
    Yes my creation
    Glad you like it
    Much love*

  8. THELMA says:

    I did not comment yesterday on Part 1. I wanted to let you finish, dear Paulo Coelho.

    But reading above :… “but suddenly “the thing” takes hold of me and..”

    Socrates, the Ancient Greek philosopher, came into my mind and his .. inspirations. He used to call it ‘my daemon’.. and then he was accused and brought to death as ‘teaching new daemons to the youth’, a blasphemy to the Olympian Gods!! The wisest of all men and the one nearest to the Truth.
    LOVE,
    Thelma.

  9. nikamarie says:

    Hey Alexandra,

    I was thinking the same!! LMBO!! :D it happens hehehehehe

  10. Alexandra says:

    Ha ha ha. Oh.I dont know why I was thinking no one can take here the same name, but I see it is possible. Dear B. Sofie, I like your lines again, these are your creation? Thanks for sharing, take care.

  11. Ca says:

    « Secoués par ces pensées inquiétantes, je trouve une force et un courage que je ne connaissais pas, j’ai eu: elles me permettent de se lancer dans un inconnu de mon âme. Je me laisse emporter par le courant et, enfin, l’ancre de mon bateau à l’île J’ai été transporté vers. Je passe des jours et des nuits qui décrit ce que je vois, me demandant pourquoi je suis en train de faire cela, en me disant que c’est vraiment pas la peine de la douleur et l’effort, que je n’ai pas besoin de prouver quoi que ce soit à quiconque, que j’ai ce que je voulais et bien plus que j’ai jamais rêvé d’avoir. »
    Cher Maitre,
    J’avais déjà dit que je m’identifie beaucoup avec toi.
    Peut-être qu’en plus qui tu es un Maitre pour moi, on sommes du signe de Vierge, et on a la tendance d’être très perfectionniste et très chercheur où on va trouver cette perfection. Bien sûr qui tu es bien plus développé qui moi par ta sagesse, ton experience, et ton âge. Je confesse qu’aujourd’hui ce poste me touche bcp parce qu’il me donne encore plus de courage, car dans ces inquiétudes de vouloir trouver la perfection, quelqu’un qui a déjà trouvée très bien peut avoir certaines pensées qui je pensais qui peuvent m’empêcher de trouver cette perfection. Du coup je me rends compte que la perfection est déjà. Et qui ces pensées dans ma mind sont comment des morceaux des bois dans le fleuve, qui même s’ils font parte de la nature, faut pas trop s’attacher a eux, parce que bientôt ils vont partir et toujours et le fleuve va toujours continuer a couler.
    A mon humble avis, ça ne vaut pas le coup. En plus de la douleur et l’effort c’est l’énergie qui est gaspillée en ce moment qu’au lieu de vivre le minute on reste en train de se demander s’on est en train de vivre avec notre mieux. Bien sûr qui tu métrise infiniment plus ça que moi. Des fois je perds la patiente avec moi-même parce que je ne suis pas en train de respecter ce délai qui j’avais prévu pour moi-même. Mais de plus en plus, je peux avoir une certaine flexibilité avec moi-même qui me donne plus d’équilibre. Quand tu passe un moment de ta vie sans pouvoir et du coup ni avoir envie de continuer bien, de faire des choses, avancer dans ton chemin, avoir à nouveau très envie, sentir mon âme vive, reprenant mon équilibre, je me rends compte qui c’est vraiment ça qui compte dans la vie, en ayant l’équilibre d’être toujours relax mais plus jamais lâche. Ce qui m’appartient c’est l’Ile et c’est mon âme qui est déjà connectée avec l’Ile, la certitude qui je vais arriver et la patiente de faire chaque pas dans son temps.
    Je dois avoir la discipline et m’améliorer beaucoup car je suis encore très loin de mon Ile (même je la vois et je sens très forte le magnétisme), mais avant tout j’ai en besoin de faire de cette journée un miracle, qui je puisse avoir la plus grande sensibilité de ma gratitude a Dieu, qui je puisse ne pas juger mon prochain, qui je puisse ne pas réclamer de rien, qui je puisse honorer mes parents et mes enseignants, qui je puisse rester sans m’inquiéter et me préoccuper, qui je puisse être honnête tout le temps même le moment où il ne m’est pas très avantageux, qui je puisse ne pas tomber en colère contre rien n’important ce qu’il peut m’arriver, qui je puisse être heureuse et fêter la vie comment un enfant en ayant la responsabilité d’une adulte. C’est très important pour moi tout d’abord qui je vis avec ces taches bien accomplis. Des fois ça aussi n’est pas évidente et me demande beaucoup des efforts. Bon, déjà si j’ai réussit ça c’est parfait. J’ai pris a me respecter, et a être moins exigent avec moi-même, parce que sinon je ne profiterai pas de la voyage jusqu’à mon Ile. Néanmoins j’a conscience qu’il y a un équilibre très délicat entre flexibilité et zone de conforte.
    J’ai en a besoin de reprendre une organisation d’une nouvelle vie qui est en train de se mettre en place tout doucement, et je confesse qui je suis presque devenu folle a cause de cette mise en place, j’ai du avoir beaucoup de patiente pour construire une nouvelle base d’équilibre. Le désespère de perdre mon Ile de la vision m’ai pris en plusieurs moments.. j’ai guéri et aujourd’hui je suis revenu a un porto temporaire qui me donne la base pour voir mon Ile, en respirant mieux. Pour cela j’ai du respecter un temps qui même si je n’ai plus eu la vision de mon Ile je la sentais très forte dedans moi mais comment je ne la voyais plus, j’ai eu peur qu’elle avais disparu. Heureusement elle est devenu a nouveau dans l’horizon. Maintenant pour moi est crucial pour m’améliorer, en ayant détermination pour retourner a nager (avec la mer plus calme heureusement) et aller rencontrer mon Ile.
    Je ne veut plus avoir cette douleur et cette culpabilisation dans ma journée car même si je n’ai fait pas une chose dans l’horaire qui j’avait prévu, pourvu qui ce n’était pas un engagement avec mon prochain, si c’est pour moi je me dis qu’au bout du compte je l’ai fait et je fais toujours en donnant mon mieux pour ma vie et pour mon prochain et si cette journée est la dernière de ma vie, je suis très heureuse et je vous remercie a tous.
    L’internet est devenu dangereuse pour moi un certain temps parce que me cachais dedans. C’est plus facile de vivre dans le monde virtuel qui dans le monde réel. Dans le monde virtuel a priori personne ne peut te blesser. Aujourd’hui je suis plus consciente des fugues et illusions qui je peux créer avec moi même dedans le monde virtuel et j’appris a sélectionner les pages qui je visite, le temps qui je passe, etc. (ce n’est pas par hasard qui je suis en train d’écrire tellement ici ). Mais il faut qui je m’améliorer plus, qui je finisse de construire ma base, et que je puisse vivre chaque fois plus dans le monde réel, avoir le contact avec les gens.
    Cette semaine je me sens bien plus préparée et en train de sortir chaque fois plus de ma zone de confort. J’enlève mes dépendances d’un moment difficile et je remplace par un volonté qui était caches dedans moi, et qu’il fallait Just la réveiller, cette volonté se réveille et grandis chaque fois plus. Aujourd’hui je suis a nager pour le destin de mon Ile, et cette fois je veux faire bien consciente ment, finalement j’arrive a mettre en pratique tout ce qui je parlais il y a longtemps qui je devrais faire.
    Ça c’est mon cas, un bout de poussière dans ce Univers qui a besoin de beaucoup s’améliorer et vaincre ses propres ennemies, ses propres faiblesses, ses propres limites, pour arriver a la première Ile.
    Tu peux ne pas le faire a 11h, mais tu le fais toujours Maitre et tu fais a l’heure qui l’énergie est très bien appropriée pour. Et tu fais d’une façon splendide, qui change la vie des nombreuses personnes dans ce monde. C’est un intensité de Lumière qui es transmis, qui ça m’étonne qui tu te culpabilise a quel horaire qui tu vais écrire. En plus, je présume qui tout ce temps qui tu passe a l’internet t’aide a arriver a ton Ile, car l’ordinateur et l’internet est un Instrument de ton travail. Ça serait pire si tu étais en train de dépenser ton énergie avec en ayant les choses dans un voie qui tu n’aide pas arriver a ton Ile. Tu trouve toujours la voie, et comment tu même dis, tu ne dois rien a personne. Tu peux ne pas commencer a écrire a 11 h mais si a 11h tu te souviens combien des âmes dans cette univers ont plus de courage, ont plus de détermination, ont plus de foi, ont plus de VIE grâce a toi, et tes enseignements, tu vais voire qui le fait qui tu n’ai jamais réussit a écrire a 11h n’ai enlevé rien de ta lumière et qui peut-être si aurais tu écris toujours a 11h tu ne pourrait pas transmettre ce dom qui tu as en toi-même avec autant de lumière.
    MARG,
    Ca
    P.S : désolé pour le message si long.

  12. Savita Vega says:

    So there are two Alexandras! That explains it!

  13. B*Sofie says:

    Yeah
    The soul is prepearing -
    widening its range
    Trying to escape –
    awear of this “trap”
    A box abot to explode -
    into something new,
    great & unknown*

    *

  14. Alexandra says:

    There are two Alexandra? I was shocked to see my name, and not my words. What a surprise.So maybe the picture is the difference.Hope I have no amnesia, and forgot what I said.

  15. Marie-Christine says:

    I feel elated.
    I am visualising myself as Rambo- aka(Rockie) now climbing the steps…..
    Music maestro…….Ta la ta ta la ta.
    There is hope…… I am sailing and surfing already, through the barrier reef….gliding amongst dolphins and the great whale.Swoosh, swoosh.swoosh.
    Thanks for that, that was great.:)

  16. Heart says:

    They are amazing moments, those when time seems to stand still, in the middle of creating something. Where did the hours go? Moments when we close ourselves from everything else, and just focus completely on one task. We forget about daily worries, our wandering mind stops for awhile, and we find some lines or solutions like it gives a very pleasurable relief of some sort. I have written four unpublished texts, and in the process did feel all kinds of pains and pleasures. They always made me land on the happy side, and was something of the most meaningful moments in my life. Although… meeting people in person or through their work… that makes my time stand still, seems even more important to me.

  17. Alexandra says:

    It’s that little wall of taking the first step that seems hardest of all.
    “couldn’t I, just to free my conscience from these feelings of guilt, couldn’t I at least write for half an hour?”
    Whenever I’m up against myself I will remember this quote and take the dive.
    Just a little half can turn into a whole lot more…

  18. Savita Vega says:

    Dear Paulo,
    I want to thank you so much for sharing with us the details of your writing life – the struggles as well as the eventual triumphs, the fear, the anguish, the uncertainty, the procrastination. Sometimes when authors talk about writing, they leave out all the “unpleasant” stuff. They make it sound like something almost magical – a gentle breeze that lifts them up and takes them to the place they need to be – an act requiring of no effort or struggle on their part at all. This does a great injustice to other writers, I think, who do struggle, as it causes them to question whether they are really meant to do this at all. Your candidness and honesty in disclosing even the uncomfortable aspects of the writing process – the very fact that you still experience these same sorts of things after publishing numerous well-read books – is an inspiration to us all. It shows the very human side of the act of writing. It illustrates that the condition of struggle and the existence of obstacles do not necessarily indicate that one has chosen the wrong path – these aspects are inherent to the quest itself, regardless of what stage a person is at, whether a new writer, or an widely published author.

    Yesterday, on this blog, karen made a suggestion to me about my own writing, a way that I might circumvent some of the obstacles I am facing – simply take some of the things I have already written and collect them into a book of essays, then try to publish that. I cannot thank karen enough for her insight and advice, as I definitely am going to do what she suggested. When I went to bed last night, I was very excited about this prospect – I still am. But when I woke up this morning, I realized a thing that I never knew before. It isn’t just the book I want. It isn’t just to see something of mine (anything) in print, bound between two covers, and for sale in a bookstore. It is the challenge I want.

    If I could put together a book of essays and see it published, it would greatly please me, but I would still not be satisfied. I would still want to write a book of fiction. And again, it isn’t seeing the book for sale on shelves (though that would be nice), it is the act of writing it, the challenge of pulling it all together and actually completing it. The elements of fiction are quite different from those of essay, and as much as I enjoy writing in essay format, I also just love entering into the realm of fiction, that magical place where any and all things are possible, where there is no limit to where the imagination might lead one, wherein the symbol, the metaphor becomes a sword as sharp and powerful as any blade ever carried by the most fearless Samurai.

    So, what I realized is that I can put together a book of essays, and this I will do, BUT, this does not free me from the imperative that exists deep in my soul, the voice from within insisting that I just must write a book of fiction. I really didn’t know that it mattered to me that much until just now – until karen offered me a way “off the hook” so to speak, a way out of this without facing the challenges and obstacles that loom before me. As soon as I realized that I could escape, that I could take another way out, I realized that I don’t want to. I actually WANT the challenge. I want to do as you do, Paulo – I want to persist until I triumph over the obstacles in my path.

    This means that I might have to be patient, more patient than I would like to be. Sometimes the obstacles that we face are internal. And sometimes, the only way to overcome these sorts of obstacles is to change ourselves. This can take time. Or, it might happen in two seconds. The point is that it has to happen. Whatever that necessary shift is – a shift in thinking, a shift in approach, a shift in one’s habits, whatever it is – that shift has to happen before we can move forward. Whatever it takes for me to focus and concentrate on one theme, one story-line, one island, for the length of time it takes to complete a book – that is what has to happen.

    Thanks so much for revealing the fact that, even after writing and publishing so many highly successful books, you still “go through the same process as (you) did when writing (your) first book: …wake up at nine o’clock in the morning, ready to sit down at (the) computer immediately after breakfast; then…read the newspapers, go for a walk, visit the nearest bar for a chat, come home, look at the computer, discover that (you) need to make several phone calls, look at the computer again…” and so on. You still suffer from distractions and the tendency to procrastinate – anything to avoid facing that computer screen. But thanks also for reminding me of “the thing” – I call it my “dragon.” “I’m in the belly of The Dragon now,” I might say, meaning, don’t bother me, I’m busy writing and no matter what you have to say or what you might want to offer me, I’m not interested, because I’ve been swallowed whole by this thing that won’t let go of me until I finish this line, this paragraph, this page…. I love my Dragon – I should feed him more often.

    Much love,
    And with enormous gratitude!
    Savita

  19. Alexandra says:

    How funny. Thanks a lot. Seem not much different from my days. Just I have no maid, and wrote no book up to now, just some essays.But one day will happen, all of a sudden, I am so sure. Hope not to think as an example to Daniel Defoe,who wrote his novel later than you. I guess what matters is the result, and in your case ,wow, just an excellent result. Good job, dear Paulo

  20. Deedee says:

    I so know the feeling!!So damn like that,only I cook myself..:)

  21. sido66 says:

    read, write, I forget to eat, I work on my sleep time.

    is a surfeit, forward, forward

    i understand that

    and after??