Being a writer is not easy.
The writing part, saying what I want to say, that comes naturally. I’ve been blessed, my whole life with the gift of writing made easy – a gift that made my friends crazy whenever it was time to turn in a paper. The inspiration part, the what to write about part… not always so easy. Some days I have so much to say (which I know is not that surprising to some of you.) But some days. Oh some days…
Some days I stare at a blinking cursor on the screen.
blinking. blinking. blinnnnnnnkinnnng.
Waiting to think of what to write about. Starting stories in my head. Scratching a line through them in my head. Looking around the room. Hanging up a curtain. Organizing my writing utensils. Cleaning off my desk. Staring at the wall. You know what would look great on this wall? Looking through my purse. All the while cursor blinking. Always blinking. Taunting. Saying, “Come on lady. I’m getting tired of blinking, waiting for you to write something.”
People think that being a writer means a bunch of things: sitting on a couch surfing the net, sipping a café crème and rubbing elbows with Hemingway, Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald (I wish!), avoiding all adult responsibilities and calling it a job, sitting in a dimly lit room drinking absinthe in front of an old typewriter. The reality is, deciding to be a writer requires a certain amount of willingness to fail everyday, a lot of passion, and even more dedication. You have to be strong enough to accept that not everyday will result in genius or product and then take that failure, wake up tomorrow, and still want to try again.
Being a writer, or any creative for that matter, is not for the faint of heart. You have to be willing to open who you are and what you create to criticism, to critics. Imagine allowing someone to look at your child, your creation and say Oh too short. Too boring. Too colorful. Not interesting enough. OR the worst – I don’t know…I just don’t like it. You have to find your own path since there is no “Writing a Book and Publishing it as Both a Critical and Popular Success 101” that will send you in the set direction of your dreams. You need to create and sharpen your own toolbox* and find the tools that help you build your craft. You have to show up to work everyday without the incentive of a paycheck, the burden of a boss, or the organization of a time clock. If you don’t show up, guess what… no one cares. Well, maybe you Reader, maybe you care.
But with all of that being said, there is not much else that fills me with that same sense of accomplishment quite like finishing a piece. Hitting PUBLISH is the last of many steps in the process preceded by moments of frustration, hours of thought and on second thought, type then retype, question asking, answer searching, word choosing, sentence editing, researching. Publishing as an action is the easy part – press a button. But sending that piece out into the world is a lot like raising a child and then sending it off into the real world hoping to God that someone doesn’t rip them to shreds and then hoping that even if someone does you’ve raised them strong enough to be able handle it. And believe me, there will always be someone ready to try ripping you to shreds.
No, I would not say that being a writer is easy. Any day I don’t write I feel like a downright failure and spend the rest of the day thinking what kind of writer can’t write. What kind of a mother gives up time with her first born to not write a single thing (← that thought alone could paralyze a person, well, this person). I beat myself up daily. Truth be told, as a writer, I am probably my own worst critic. Truth be told, most writers are probably their own worst critic. And don’t find inspiration everyday. But the secret is in the suffering. As hard as it can be on some days, we come back for more. We have to.
Otherwise, we wouldn’t be writers.
1. My toolbox includes: a pair of headphones for when your working in the library and a noisy Physics class walks in, an quiet location – a little coffeeshop, Guli’s, down the street from my apartment or the library at school – my MAC laptop, my iTunes playlists, a list of blogs to read when I’m feeling exceptionally inspirationless, and certainly and most definitely a cup of coffee to start me off with most of my pieces.