The Baggage Train: Lose 10,000 Tons This Week!

by Sabina I. Rascol
Published on: October 1, 2013
Categories: Basics, Challenges
Comments: No Comments

 

train, evergreens

My post title is a spin on Lose 200 Lbs. This Weekend, a book by decluttering guru Don Aslett. I’m not urging you to clean out your possibly overstocked personal library. (Though if you do, give me a shout: I’m starting a book selling business!)

 

The kind of weight we writers must shed is more esoteric. It’s the personal baggage we bring to our writing. To our writing times, our writing encounters.

 

Jerrold Mundis has written more than 30 works of fiction and non-fiction, including Break Writer’s Block Now! (subtitle: How to Demolish It Forever and Establish a Productive Working Schedule in One Afternoon-A Proven System.) In this book he describes “the baggage train” and reminds me to uncouple mine.

 

There is no such thing as writer’s block, Mundis convincingly argues. (Read his book, do the few exercises just as he directs, and you’ll see what he means.) What holds us up is only perfectionism, fear, and…the baggage train. The train consists of all the big things we wish to have happen through our writing. You know—fame, money, vindication, world peace, immortality…

 

It’s OK to have these motivations, Mundis says, but we must set them aside when we sit down to write:

With all these chained to you, one after the other, stretching off into the distance like a great baggage train, you’re not going to get very far. You may never even get out of the station. Because you’re not sitting down on a Monday morning to write for three hours—you’re sitting down to become rich, to become famous, to enlighten the world, to get your degree. And you cannot possibly do that. You cannot become rich sitting in front of your typewriter from nine to twelve on Monday morning. You cannot get your degree, become famous or enlighten the world.

            […] All you CAN accomplish is that day’s work, the simple act of putting words on paper. Nothing else is possible.”

 

So go ahead. Uncouple your baggage train, and just write. That you can reliably do.

At the end of the movie Soul Surfer, the main character says something like, “I came to surf, not to win.”

 

We writers can do the same. We can sit down just to write, to enjoy the shape and taste of words and images in our minds and then on the page.  Not to get the validation we’d like from some who may not have offered it, or to pay off our mortgage, to hold thousands spellbound with our entrancing, trippingly spoken words, or get embossed metallic stickers affixed to the covers of our books. Those things can come after—maybe. For now, we’re just living in the world of our story, and advancing in it, transferring it to the page so that others can experience it too. That’s much easier to accomplish when we’re not pulling 10,000 tons behind us.

 

*

10,000 tons is based on Internet information that a train can weigh up to 16,000 tons—and a train engine alone about 150 tons. Of course, train lengths, loads, and weights vary. So your personal baggage–and individual tonnage lost–may also vary.

 

-Sabina I. Rascol

www.sabinairascol.com

 

 

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