Louise Couper
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Trust and Let Go
Summer - time to relieve the ewes of their woolly coats.  Wool prices are at their lowest I can remember – 60 cents a kilo.  A lovely raw material – in our own case, coloured wool - which has sadly gone out of fashion.  It is also horse-fly season – Shakespeare’s gadfly of King Lear among other plays - the female needing the protein from blood to produce her offspring.  I have been bitten already, my arm is bright red and swollen.  Hopefully it was an organic fly, carrying no lasting infection!
‘Look fear in the face.  You must do the thing you think you cannot do.’  I was reminded of this while watching the film about the Kon Tiki expedition (Kon Tiki, 2012) and simultaneously beginning my next project.  There is a stage in the film when the raft gets ‘bogged down’ (as a piece of writing can) and there is a danger of it sinking.  Thor Heyerdahl refuses to take the engineer’s advice and urges him to ‘have faith’.
And all ends happily.
However, I can’t help feeling they were lucky the raft didn’t break apart.  Feel the fear and do it anyway is all very well if you have first assessed the pros and cons.  If something seems life-threatening, then it may actually be life-threatening.  As the saying goes: Trust in Allah but first tie your camel. In writing, this means not just to ‘trust and let go’, not to simply write but to have a structure in place, so that you know where you are going and in which direction.  
So, what else do I also need in order to succeed?  Like Thor Heyerdahl, a purpose helps.  The ‘why’ we are doing it is key – to help others, to prove that we can, to improve some aspect of our life with the riches that will flow.  And to overcome difficulties, we need a little of that blind optimism of the Kon Tiki, belief in something outside ourselves, our own quest.
To tie this theory to a creative endeavour like writing, first: get your book written, even though the possibility of publication is remote; do the work of art even though you may be the only person who likes it.  We fear the blank canvas or page: where to start?  What if it doesn’t work out - can I face failure?  What is failure anyway?  To begin with, failure is simply not finishing the book.  Find help if you need to but finish it you must.  When Jane Austen moved to Chawton she had several unfinished novels in her luggage.  What was probably crucial to her at that point was the presence of Martha Lloyd in her life, as a friend, confidante and no doubt reader.  It is always that extra, dispassionate eye that’s so important to see weakness in structure, to spot the overlooked detail and to cheer when we get it right.  We need more Martha Lloyds in our world.