I’m very tired today, so this blog is a spontaneous meandering of uncontrolled thoughts, and as such will refresh places no other blog can reach …
I’ve been doing a lot of pondering this week about ‘control’. I seem to keep bumping into the concept all over the place, and it always makes me shudder, so I thought I would spend some time considering why I think we are mistaken as a society to believe that having control is a good thing.
I’m coming to this from within a personal context. Having control of anything in my own life is not an idea I pursue any more. I don’t think it’s good for my health. So I’m quite interested in what others mean when they talk about control as if it’s something desirable.
I notice that often people talk about having control over someone, or something, else. Which makes me think they believe it has something to do with power. Clearly, if this is the case, they are interested in having power over someone else. And I find this intriguing. Why would they think that this is either ethical, or beneficial?
Let me be clear: I take the Star Trek view on this. Prime Directive and all that. When meeting an unfamiliar sentient species, your stance should definitely be one of respect and non-interference. So when I hear people talking about having control, for instance, over their dogs, I wonder what kind of relationship they are developing.
And now I’ve encountered the dreaded word within the world of spinning – that is, spinning fibres on a spinning wheel, nothing to do with bikes, you understand. Apparently, I’m supposed to have control over my spinning in order to produce the yarn I want.
This is the same kind of thinking that tells me to have control of my characters and my storyline, in order to be a successful writer. It is quite mistaken.
If I act as if my prime directive is to gain control – of anything – I’m going to miss the point. I’m not going to experience the true nature of whatever it is I’m about to encounter. If I’m focusing my energies solely on staying in charge, being on top or forcing my agenda, then I’ll completely overlook the opportunity to learn something new or to connect deeply with whatever, or whoever, is in front of me.
The only kind of control I think is appropriate is self-control, and even that can be dodgy, if used wrongly. As far as writing goes, I expect to use my self-control to exercise a discipline where I turn up to write every day, but I don’t try to control what happens when I sit down to write, because I’m entering into a beautiful world of unknowns which will only reveal themselves if I tread quietly.
It’s the same approach I take with my dogs and my spinning, and it involves a lot of listening, negotiating and understanding a different viewpoint. (Sounds like a good recipe for a politician … Whoops! Sorry, didn’t mean to go electioneering.)
I cannot control a lot of elements within my life, nor should I. It is in respecting that distance from control that wonderful things are allowed to happen. For example, I now find I have seven 5-star reviews on Amazon for my first novel The White And Silver Shore, and, as of yesterday morning, I have moved up the rankings by approximately 200,000 places since I published two months ago. That’s astonishing – and I have absolutely no control over it at all. Which makes it all the more exciting.
What I do have control over is taking some time to learn about sales and marketing, and deciding which strategies feel okay to me, and which don’t. And even then, I can’t make people buy my book, though to hear some advisers speak you would think that was possible. I can only look after my end, and be content and honest within that.
Enough rambling for one week. One final thought: if I behaved as though controlling my dog was more important than discovering who she is, I would never have discovered that dogs smell better for dead fish guts – apparently!