Have you ever watched Star Trek: The Next Generation? Every few years my husband and I re-watch the entire series. The plots are cheesy, the writing is not the greatest, and I’m constantly having to tell my husband that I don’t care what the red lights are called on the outside of the Enterprise. I really really don’t.

HOWEVER, the character development of most of the characters on the show is phenomenal. Someone should do a writing workshop on the study of character development through Star Trek. *Scribbles down note to find a speaker for one of our writing retreats that will do this*

My husband and I have had long conversations about who is actually the central character of the show. Is it Captain Jean Luc Picard? Or is it really Data? For the most part I agree with the hubs that Data actually has the best character arc on the show, but for today’s blog post, we’re going to focus on Jean Luc Picard…otherwise known as Locutus.

Ugh. Even that name gives me a sick shiver that slivers around my spine and chest. Why?

Because it’s his Borg name. After he was assimilated.

The first episode in the series that features the Borg gave me nightmares. I could not fall asleep for hours after watching it and it continued to haunt me for weeks. Okay, that’s a lie. It was more like years. When we re-watched the series the second time, I had to plan for this episode. I needed to leave enough time to watch Jean Luc get kidnapped by the Borg, and then watch the recovery episode in which he was rescued immediately afterward. Just so I could sleep through the night.

For me, the Borg are worse than any other nightmarish monster ever dreamed up. They’re worse than ghosts, worse than werewolves and vampires, worse than creepy clowns and murderous dolls and creatures that should not be fed after midnight.

The idea of assimilation

Does this make you want to run screaming into the hills like it does me? Conformity – blegh. Fall in line – uh, no. Blend in – stop saying these words!

One of the things I am most adamant and outspoken about is individualism in creativity. The Borg are death to creativity.

For a creative who places so much worth in feeling free to try new things, to explore, to express my perspective through my writing, encountering a being that not only is the exact opposite of all of this, but seeks to destroy all these traits is my worst nightmare. It’s a punch to my gut. It makes me want to form a hard, protective shell around everyone I love to protect them from this fate.

Have you assimilated?

A few years ago, I realized that I was assimilating into a career I never wanted and it was killing me from the inside out. I had the best boss anyone could ever wish for, an amazing and supportive team of co-workers, and I was absolutely miserable. I wasn’t a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. I was a rhombus or an octagon or a spork. At thirty years old my career path stretched ahead of me with no curves, no surprises. A desk job doing something I didn’t believe in, couldn’t express myself in. A job that didn’t have room for or value creativity.

Years ago, tragic events taught me the fragile impermanence of our one life and I realized I could no longer live a life that was so distant from my values.

So…I unplugged. Like Locutus after he’d been rescued, or later in the series, Hugh, I had to yank out the assimilation implants, the tentacles that had stretched far inside me and taken root. It took some time. It took some recovery. It took some habit-breaking.

Does any of this sound familiar?

This year, break free.

This is brand new year. I challenge you to examine your life. Your one life.

Are you where you want to be? If not, are you heading in the right direction?

If your answer is still no, do something. You get just one life and you are not guaranteed tomorrow. What’s one thing this year you can do to head toward that vision you have for your life? What’s one thing you can do this month? This week? Today? I’m not saying you should quit your job, but you can take steps to start the unplugging process and fill the vacant space with the things that feed your creative soul.

Using Writing Workshops and Writing Retreats to Unplug

Writing workshops and writing retreats do more than help us develop our writing craft and refill our well. They also serve as weapons to fight the metaphorical Borgs in our lives. They gives us reasons to unplug, to de-Borg ourselves. Writing workshops and writing retreats help redirect our life to the pursuit of creativity. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant adventure. You can attend a writing workshop in your own town or the next one over. A writing retreat can be as simple as dedicating a weekend to writing in a new coffee shop or a park near your house.

Will you accept the challenge this year? Will you take an honest look at your life and ask yourself the hard questions?

Are you where you want to be?

And if not, are you willing to do what it takes to get there?

Live long and prosper my friends, but above all else, stay true to your creative spirit. Fight the Borg.