“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me…Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” –Shel Silverstein
Just like my life, I have many unfinished stories sitting on my hard drive. I always thought I wanted to be a writer, but I can’t seem to finish a story. A while back I reached that place that every twenty-something reaches where they need to pick a direction for their life to take but I’ve been at the crossroads for a long time now. I’ve been sitting at the damn intersection so long, my car’s starting to get a little low on gas, and my passengers are also running out of patience.
I can hear my mother’s words ringing in my ears “shit or get off the pot”. As crude as that may be she’s right; there is no doubt in my mind about that. She has even tried bribing me with a trip to Paris if and when I graduate college. Just so you understand the gravity of the temptation, there is nowhere on this planet, or any other for that matter that I want to see as badly as I want to see Paris. Not a bad deal right? A college degree and a trip to Paris, what’s stopping me?
My mother and father have every right to be angry with me about losing my focus. I want to make them proud, more than anything. But this is something I have to do for myself, something I will never finish unless I really want it for me, not them.
So how bad do I want it? This question should be really easy to answer, but it isn’t. I feel as though I want it as bad as I wanted all the other careers I attempted and none of those theories panned out but I think I’m more scared of failing at a writing career than I was about failing at anything else, probably because I actually do want it more. It’s something I can’t afford to fail at, because it is the only thing I’ve actually done well in my life. I’m confident about that. I just can’t stand the idea of losing the only true escape I’ve ever had. Letting anyone else into my private world is terrifying. Everything I write comes from a sacred place, a place that is entirely mine, a place that isn’t clouded by the outside world. As frightening as that is, I know I have to be brave and at least try.
It’s very possible that I could fail again. I’m not going to deny that. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life but this is what it comes down to, I CAN do this. I will not spend the rest of my life wondering…if I had just tried, if I had just put myself on the line, even a little, would I have gotten there? I don’t want to be that person, the one who goes down without a fight. I do not want to wake up when I’m fifty and know that my life sucks because of my own making. As scary as being judged in my own world is, judging myself for being a coward, is even scarier. I can do this, and I will do it, I’ve already started.
Being a writer is not something you can be taught, and if you’re a writer you’ll know exactly what I mean. I’ve aced every single writing course I’ve ever taken in my life while I watched others around me struggle. Courses like science and math however? That’s a completely different story. Sure, you can be taught proper grammar and sentence structure and you can be guided on what to write about, but when it comes to stringing the words together no one can teach you how to feel the right thing to say or how to say it because after all that’s what writing is, it’s about a feeling.
No matter what your writing style is or your chosen career path, if you are a writer of some sort whatever it is that makes you good is something you’ve been born with. Writing is personal, it’s about having an entire dialogue alone in your head and then using it in a story. It’s about internalizing anything and everything that happens to you long enough to build a world of your own on paper. It’s about spending countless hours alone with worlds and characters that only exist within yourself. To be a true writer you have to be a stubborn masochist with a thick skin because it’s stressful, emotional, hard, and lonely and can be incredibly unsatisfying after your twentieth rejection.
So why would anyone want to do that to themselves? Simple, it’s the only thing we know how to do that brings us a sense of relief. When you hear fictional voices in your head you can start to feel a little crazy and if you don’t write out your thoughts they start to swim around in your head until they no longer make any sense. Seeing someone smile or tear up with joy after reading something you’ve written brings an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment. That satisfaction becomes addicting and that healthy addiction makes all the stress tolerable.
In my life I have read a lot of books, magazine articles, newspaper clippings and blog posts most of which I’ve enjoyed immensely and others I’ve disliked entirely. Even though it’s impossible to like everything you read it doesn’t give you the right to rip it apart. I personally have said more than once that I disliked something I’ve read but I do not go so far as being cruel. I know how much of themselves an author puts into their work, I know how deeply personal it is and when someone calls you a bad writer simply because they do not see your point of view it can make you feel worthless because what you write is who you are.
I apologize that this has officially become a ramble but in conclusion…I need you to know that my blog is going to be more than just a weekly publication of my thoughts and narratives. I will apologize now if it isn’t always something you enjoy reading but you should know my mind often pulls me in strange directions. But this is my way of giving you some weekly enjoyment that comes out of my inner-craziness. It’s me magically spinning words into tales, both nonfiction and fiction. Hopefully you will like it and begin to look forward to it and if you don’t that’s okay too because everyone is entitled to their opinion. Keep in mind that everyone needs to express their creativity in one way or another and as a writer, telling stories is the only way I know how.