I’m a “yes, but” kind of guy. No matter how great an idea is I will find the downside to it pretty quickly, especially if there is a good chance that I may possess a talent or some experience that would lend well to it.
Todd, have you ever thought of being a professional writer?
Yes, but my grammar and spelling leaves a little to be desired.
That’s what spell check, dictionaries, style manuals and editors are for. You can even take an adult education class at the local learning annex.
Yes, but It’s really hard to get a break and you need an agent to be really successful.
So, self publish
Yes, but while that is pretty easy you still have to promote it to get sales. What good is publishing if nobody wants to read it?
Well, how does anybody know they want to read it if you won’t publish it and try to put it out there?
And so on and so on.
When I’m honest with myself (and you) I’ll admit that I like writing…love it, actually. It’s hard work. My self-doubt, depression and anxiety get the better of me a lot. Then there is the matter of my toddler sized attention span. I get bored of my projects very quickly and move on to the next one so that all I have at the end of each year is several unfinished projects and no actual progress.
Well, why don’t you just pick one and focus on it? Set a goal to finish just one of those projects this year.
Yes, but you seem to be forgetting about my toddler sized attention span
I admit that I live in fear where my creativity is concerned. My risk taking threshold is not very high and putting my work “out there,” exposing my thoughts is scary. I strut about with my chest out pretending that I have a thick skin. I talk gruffly to those who disagree with me. I’m a tempestuous warrior man.
I wrestle bears and alligators. I fashion my clothes and boots from their skins. I am a post modern Ernest Hemingway, a hard drinking war correspondent who runs with the bulls and goes on safari when peace breaks out. I’m the only one who believes this façade, of course. My friends and family see me for who I am, a sensitive creative person who is afraid of criticism. Throw the first punch is my M.O.
A creative person’s work is an extension of themselves; their inner being brought out into the daylight. A rejection of our work can be mortal. It, at least, can feel that way. What we do is so subjective at times others don’t always understand it. That’s not their fault. My job as a writer is to use my word’s to communicate. Yet, the rejection wounds all the same. Maybe even more so because I know that I have failed.
However, do I edit and re-craft? No, not usually. That’s the difference between true writers and those of us who just use words. Real writers crawl back to their computers and their notebooks and craft and reshape their work. They experiment and play with it trying to see what they can eke out of the symbolic nature of language. For the artist who writes it is the process that matters not the necessarily the opinions of critics and readers, although they love acclaim and adulation as much as the rest of us. However, it is their relationship to the language, both real time and archetypal that becomes their way of life.
All I can do is remember the words of an English teacher who, after reading some immature poetry drafts, said, “The problem with your writing is that you have nothing to say.”
She offered no further encouragement or advice. I was crushed and heartbroken. 12 years later the sting of that criticism felt as real as a slap in the face that just happened. I hadn’t written a word except to make a grocery list or take down a message for my roommate. It would be another 10 years before I would buy a notebook and start keeping a journal.
As for Hemmingway,
Hemmingway was miserable; spent his life in depressed misery and eventually blew his brains out. So maybe this isn’t the side of Mt. Kilimanjaro I want to climb. According to a Zen Master, whose name escapes me, there are many ways to climb Mt. Fuji, but the view is the still the same from the summit. So maybe there is more than one way to enjoy what I love. That is, if put my self-doubt aside long enough to try it…maybe even tame my toddler sized attention span and complete one of my many works in progress. I just have to find my way up the mountain.
So how do I go from being a hack that just uses words to being an artist of the written word?
I don’t know exactly.
One of the little bits of literary trivia that I have reminds me that Shaw didn’t begin writing until he was around the age of 40 (If I remember correctly). I’ll be 47 in 27 days. What if I pick up one of my works in progress and see what happens?