I was watching a talk show last night where the guest was a comedian famous for his political humor. The host fed him a series of subjects about which the comedian could riff, and I do not need to tell you that the comedian was displeased with the general state of things. He was funny, no doubt, but the gist of the interview boiled down to, “People are stupid and the world is a mess.” I was through laughing by the end of the interview.
I do not blame this comedian – or anyone – for being dissatisfied with politics, or public education, or the state of publishing, or their marriage. Do we think or expect the world to be perfect as it is? Has humanity ever not wanted to change nearly everything about the world, even if that change means taking the world back to some “simpler time”? Of course not, but do not mistake complaining about all that imperfection for insight. Pointing out that the world needs to change is like pointing out that the sun is likely to rise tomorrow.
All complaining boils down to this: I don’t like things; I want them to change. Bravo! What would we do with ourselves if we didn’t want anything to change? We’d sit in a chair and pray that the world would stop rotating. Unfortunately, complaint doesn’t actually change anything. At best it is a clue that we want something to change; at worst it drains us of all energy to enact that change because complaint always assumes a level of powerlessness. After all, if we had the power to change what bothered us, we’d change it, instead of merely complaining about it.
Never is this truer than when writing a book. Do not complain about the book you are writing. You love the book you are writing. That you do not know what to write next is not the book’s fault. Complaining will merely take you two steps back. Instead of complaining, tell yourself, “I love this, but I want it to be more.” In this way, you are inviting the change you desire, instead of fretting over why it hasn’t arrived yet.