Okay, so I’m reading this amazing little book, Page After Page by Heather Sellers. In Chapter 8, a chapter about her experience with a Russian Lady at a speaking engagement with three other writers, she takes on this "dream" everyone thinks they have (or their friends think they have): writing. Instead of encouraging her readers to sit down and write, she asks them to take a long, hard look inside. Is writing what they really, really want? This whole process of writing is hard. Writers practically isolate themselves, spending less time with their friends and family, less time on entertainment (though, thankfully, reading is still something that every writer knows they need to do). Is it worth it? Is not writing something that makes a writer sick and lifeless, like denying himself air or water?
This morning, I asked myself that very question. To date, I’ve written several short stories, made fleeting attempts at novels (all of which have fizzled-out for one reason or another), and dabbled in spiritual writing; and yet, after three years of serious writing I’m still not published. I can attest to how hard it is to write. I have a quiver full of stories that have never seen the bow, never been launched, victims of the just-not-good-enough syndrome, because I can’t seem to let go. And I’m asking myself whether or not I’m good enough to be a writer. Is this whole adventure (quite a long trip after three years) just pie in the sky? Is it a nice hobby?
My best writing times are in the morning. Today, I climbed out of bed a little after five o’clock. Looking at the atomic clock perched in my computer room, which also synchs up with an external thermometer, the temperature outside registered a cool fifty degrees. Ahhhh. There’s nothing like a moment out in the brisk autumn air. For me, it clears out the cobwebs, opens up the sinuses, rejuvenates my mind. So, I stepped out with the dog, who skittered from place to place, sniffing the grass, the tree, the flower garden, his tail happily whisking back and forth (How on earth can one creature be so excited about a morning whiz, I’ll never know). Standing there in my backyard, I recognized the cycles of life. The stars were brilliant because the moon, in its cycle, took a hiatus from the southern night sky. A sign to the coming winter, the peach tree had already shed half of its leaves, which the dog rustled as he sought out his next happy spot. In the distance, I heard the sound of ducks, or maybe it was Canadian Geese (it is that time of the year again, when they migrate down to Texas for the winter). All of these things, from the moon to the stars to the animals of the earth, they have to do what they were created to do. They simply can’t not do what they need to do; it is hard-wired and a part of who they are. Even the happy tail is a part of who the dog is.
The question, then, is this: can I not write? Would it kill me? Would I be denying myself something as precious as air or water? I believe so. Going a day without writing is like trying to get in the car and suddenly finding that I’ve misplaced the keys. Oh I can do it, I suppose--just get in the car, sit behind the wheel, and go through the motions. I might even vibrate my lips, give myself that running motor sound. But it’s not the same without the keys. The car doesn’t run without switching the ignition, releasing the spark and turning the pistons over. I feel … well, not complete when I deny my writing. The passion is so strong that I feel lost without it. And this is for sure: I would probably resent myself for the rest of my life if I didn’t at least try, if I talked a good game but never touched the keyboard or picked up a pencil.
Yes, this writing adventure is frustrating. At times, it almost takes me into deep depressions when I think about how far I’ve got to go. But I can’t give up. I can’t go without it. Telling stories, reading stories, being a writer is something that I simply have to do in order to be whole.