I am a writer. Want to know what that’s like?
Here is my craft, in four sentences.
Driven to write.
Start to write.
Freeze up and can’t write.
Find an excuse to NOT write.
Avoidance, procrastination and ridiculous excuses – they are so much easier than grappling with the reality of my own fear and self-doubt. Why do I freeze up? Why can’t I write? Because I’m terrified to fail. Or worse - to be ignored altogether. I live in dread of discovering that something I thought was my gift is nothing more than a mediocre aptitude for stringing words together.
As my 47th birthday approaches, I am literally smack dab in the logical middle of my life. The one thing I thought I would have done by now is write and publish a book. Writing seemed to come so naturally to me when I was in high school. The stakes were just not that high then – or if they were, I didn’t realize it. I wrote for fun. As an outlet for my imagination. I wrote because I could, and I was surprised and delighted when people liked my work - even more so when I won an award or two, and then a college scholarship.
The unfortunate reality for me is that everything I wrote in high school was great – for high school. I was not mature enough to frame it within the greater context of life. I lacked the humility required to embrace my first critique from a college professor and then try again. I had not learned to fail, and was therefore completely crushed when it inevitably occurred.
One of the deadliest mistakes we can ever make in this human endeavor is to believe that we’ve arrived. To convince ourselves that there is a finish line, and we’ve crossed it, and all we need to do now is collect our wreath, our prize money and our trophy.
Whatever our ambition – be it personal or spiritual growth, professional excellence, academic achievement, athletic endurance or political aspiration - we can never stop. Never stop racing. Never stop training. Never stop facing and embracing challenges. And we can certainly, absolutely, positively, never ever ever stop failing. Because the second you stop failing, you’ve either quit or died.
It may have taken me half a lifetime, but I am learning to fail and fail with excellence. I refuse to quit, and I’m not dead yet. I will keep at this writing thing until I have either broken through the wall of my own self-doubt and insecurity or I’ve broken every last bone trying. I will blog, I will journal, I will doodle, I will Instagram my deepest thoughts as fast as my thumbs will carry them – I will keep on and keep on and keep on until I write that book and hold it in my arthritic little hands. And then I will write some more. And fail some more. And push harder. And learn more. I will not stop until I die. Even then I will probably be telegraphing messages from beyond.
I’m here for all of this. I’m here not just to dream, but to do, and fail, and do again.
I will not quit.
I am a writer.