When A Writer Isn’t Writing, Does it Make a Sound?
I’m a writer.
That detail of my spirit is completely out of my control, it is written somewhere in me like the code of my DNA. Since four years old when I fell in love with the clackity clack sound of my grandmother’s office typewriter despite not having a word to spell yet, I’ve somehow felt summoned to blank pages and fresh ink like Don Quixote to Dulcinea, like Amelia to the skies, like Ishmael to the sea, like a hobo to a hot meal.
To put it bluntly, I can’t fucking control it.
That having been said, one might ask – no, in fact should ask – why it took me until I was 28 years old to finally sit down and actually start a novel. I mean truly start a novel, with the intention of work, with the intention of returning to it whenever the urge were to call me, to marry myself to that story, honor it and be devoted to it until it was complete.
(To be honest, I’d had my heart broken beyond measure just before beginning that book. I’ve read that the heartbroken often turn to bettering themselves as a means to recover. They take better care of themselves, run marathons, start dressing snappy. Me, instead of running marathons and lifting weights, I plopped my ass in front of my laptop and did the thing that had been calling me my whole life. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything more beneficial and essential for my well-being as I did that day.)
That book took me two years to finish.
The truly amazing detail of that sentence is that I finished it. I was thirty when I finally did the thing I’d known was my purpose since I was four years old. It took me twenty six years to get my head out of my ass and do what made me me. I wrote a book. And from what I hear, it ain’t a fucking bad one either.
Now, here I am almost a year later, less than 100 pages away from done with my second book (not bad, shaving the time down by half sounds like a serious achievement, right? WRONG! I wrote 90% of it within the first three months of the year. That’s right, when I treated writing with the honor and respect it deserved, I wrote 1000 words a day, minimum, and I annihilated it.
…Like it was my job, one might say.
Today, I come to this outpouring of thought with a reminder – a reminder to myself and perhaps a reminder to those who are in my situation and just twiddling their thumbs with the soothing mantra of “I have plenty of time. I’ll write when (insert stupid ass timeframe here).”
1) No one is going to hold your hand. You have to make yourself do it. You have to be the one wielding the whip, as well as the one nursing the scars it leaves.
2) There are no excuses for not writing. You have to breathe to live? You have to eat to live? You make time for these things. If you wouldn’t be truly living if your life were void of writing, then how are you not starving and suffocating?
3) Fear of failing, fear of not finishing, fear of stagnance or mediocrity – they’re all bull shit. So fuck em. Sorry, that wasn’t quite as poetic as I intended, but the meaning stands true, so suck it.
I’ve done the math, ladies and gentlemen. I come up with a new story idea, on average, once or twice a month. Of those ideas, six or seven every two years REALLY grab hold and demand my attention. Not counting the 52 I already have riding along with me in every waking moment, that makes for 30 new story ideas by the time I’m 40 years old. That would mean 82 (if math isn’t your strong suit. Don’t feel bad, English majors the world over feel your pain).
If I continue pussy footing around, I won’t have enough time to tell all my stories. Even if I live to be 143 (as planned), I will fall short of the muse who has seen fit to bless me as completely and constantly as she has.
Wow…that muse comment just struck a serious nerve to my spiritual side. I’m letting someone other than just myself down by slacking and she very well may be Greek. Don’t fuck with Greek women, people. Bitch will cut you.
So I hereby declare in sound mind and body that I will as of this day, write every single day and as a result, I WILL finish my second book by the end of 2011.
AND I will begin my search for an agent to represent my work within the next two weeks.
The time has fucking come. I leave with a quote. It’s mine, I said this, but whatever… ok, I’ll leave you with two quotes.
“If there is a book you want to read and it doesn’t yet exist, you must write it.” – Toni Morrison
“If you don’t write your stories, no one will.” – Caitlin Carrigan
Reposted from my original blog Sleepbeforewaking.com