So I’m well past my birthday, and with my writing-less days mounting I am beginning to wonder on my direction–again. I haven’t been working enough. I haven’t been playing enough. I haven’t been doing much of anything. Life isn’t bad, but its like my subconscious wants to believe there is nothing left to do. This despite my general lack of accomplishment in life so far.
I’ve been trying for months, maybe even years to get myself to seize the moment. I guess I’ve never been good at that. Honestly, it reminds me of an argument I had with a fellow student freshman year of college. He and his fellows were arguing that a life well-lived is sufficient in the face of a possible oblivion in-death. I disagreed. At the time I found life insufficient because there are many who do not have the opportunity to enjoy their lives as fully as a fully-abled normal-minded person living in a relatively free country. At the time I actually included myself in the grouping of people who had enough personal luck and the resources to make a decent life. Now I’m not so sure.
I’ve changed a great deal since freshman year, though in some ways I’m the same. I’ve learned to enjoy life more and take things easier since that argument. I’ve learned how to be generous with my attitudes to others, however much of a lie that really turns out to be. I still feel like I’m probably not generous enough to myself.
Why, it wasn’t long ago someone who should have known better accused me of simply sitting around all day, never working. I threw that person’s own idleness right back at him and pointed out his hypocrisy. Regardless of my own actions whether they were right or wrong, that person’s words have been bothering me for the past week. Apparently I haven’t done enough. Maybe I should give up on this dream? After all, the only thing that makes a writer is writing. Skills doesn’t matter as much as persistence, and talent is nothing compared to hard work. Just like in much of life, the real advantage comes from fundamentals more than flashy tricks.
Even in this mess I know I’m not going to give up. I never really considered it. The simplicity of the matter is that I must go back to the fundamentals and stop looking for a quick fix. I need to build up my calluses little by little. I need to stay focused on my forward motion. One thing writers can never really do is move backward from improvement. Even a writer who produces inferior work for a time is likely improving his or her craft.
But to really move forward requires dedication and persistence. Its the fundamentals, the ‘elbow grease’ that makes one improve. I’ve been looking for enthusiasm these past two years, as if it was some kind of switch I could flip rather than a path I have to choose to walk every day. Nobody can walk the 500 year foot journey past an archangel in one day, but the one who knows the way can still walk it until his or her end.
Part of me thinks as though its my getting older that is bothering me. When I was fourteen and I started this I felt no pressure from anyone but myself. Now, despite all the forward planning and the active work I did before I feel the weight of trying to live a real life weighing down on me. Even after these past eight years of practice I worry I’m not skilled enough. Sometimes I even feel like I never will have what it takes.
At this point this post is reminding me of I Should Be Writing, the podcast by Mur Lafferty that I’ve listened to since very near the time I began writing. Mur uses that podcast as a confessional all the time. This post is sort-of like that, in a way. Here I go making comparisons. The thing is, Mur now has a professional book deal. I’m still nowhere. Yes, she’s over fifteen years older than I am, but I still feel slow.
And yet I feel old too. Part of me thought life was over after highschool. Another part of me never wanted to college to end. Now I’m a full-time writer but I don’t have a single publication to go with my nearly 1,000,000 words of work. I probably haven’t submitted enough, and people who read my stuff often like it.
Things I’m missing or don’t have enough of:
I don’t know what I’m going to do about all this. In all honesty I want to work. I want to work, but I can’t seem to drive myself to it without a whip or cane.
I wish I could be more positive, but every time I pick up a book to read I get depressed about my work. It’s almost as if I was reading a rejection letter for one of my books when I’m reading Sanderson’s Way of Kings. I want to work, but I can’t muster the strength any longer. Mentally I’ve grown frail. But whining like that isn’t going to get me anywhere. The only one who can fix this problem is sitting in front of my computer right now. He knows what he needs to do. Is he afraid of giving all the time he has to this work?
I realize that was always my plan. I wanted to write. I still want to write. I just wanted more fanfare, perhaps. Regardless, I must carry on. I must, because the one thing that makes writers fail is the only tool they have: their own minds.