Last month I shared a lot about the struggles I’ve been having in cultivating this writing career of mine. I think we’ve all been told many, many times from writers who are further along in the process that it never gets easier, and so far that has proven to be true for me. (If it ever does get easier, I promise you’ll be the first ones I share the secrets with!)
There are so many battles to fight and demons to face in living as a writer (let a lone being successful as one) that it’s really a miracle that every one of us doesn’t give up the first time we sit down at the keyboard. I think most of us come to the keyboard in the first place because we weren’t dealt the best hand in life, we have struggled to feel heard in this noisy, confirmative world, and we feel things on a very deep level. There was a line on a recent episode of Nashville (who else is still watching?!) that really made an impact on me:
“The pain is the gift.”
It is this pain that encourages us to dig deeper into the human condition and search for the words to express it. It is this pain that compels us to share our messages with the world and hopefully, in some small way, make it better.
But the pain is also the struggle. It leaves us feeling insecure. It causes epic internal battles that not even Tolkien or George R.R. Martin can touch. It makes us question every single step we take, every single day, presumably until the day we die. (I’ll keep you updated on this too.)
And then, if we manage to actually get words on an actual page that are actually readable, we find ourselves in front of a new Everest to climb. We must learn to overcome–or at least smother–the fear of being emotionally naked in front of strangers. We must fight to get noticed or “chosen.” We have to learn to define ourselves in new ways.
It’s heartbreaking. It’s self-abusing. It’s dark and ugly.
And, in its way, it’s also beautiful.
It’s a Life Worth Living
It was either Socrates or Plato who said, “An unexamined life is not worth living,” and if that is true, my friends, (and I believe it is) we writers are the most alive beings on this vibrant planet. Do you feel it–that pulse deep inside you? Yes, we have the crushing lows of facing the dark facets of life, but we also have the soaring ups of beautiful truths realized. The roller coaster ride can be an exhaustive one, but just like the rhythms of your heartbeat, a monotone readout means your life is over. It’s the ups and downs that mean you’re still here to discover and express your divine understanding of human existence.
And you know what else? We are a rare breed of people who actually knows what we want in life. I know you see it, like I do. If you look around you, you can feel the haunting complacency of most of the population–the ones who want nothing more out of life than to merely make it out alive (which, of course, they won’t, because no one ever does) and who are content to ho-hum along through their daily routines.
Probably most of the people you know fall into this category (unfortunately, most people I know do as well despite encouraging them repeatedly to break out of their boxes) but you, my friend…you are not one of them. Maybe it’s why we writers band together. We need to know we aren’t the only ones who feel this level of consciousness. We need to know we aren’t crazy.
Connect to Gratitude
And while building a writing career isn’t easy, the incredible blessing we have–especially in today’s world–is that we can build a writing career. We even get to take it a step further and design it to suit our desires with as much precision as we are willing to exact. Our careers and how we choose to go about cultivating it is as much a part of our artistry as the writing itself.
Amongst the writing community, because we are such a supportive group, we spend a lot of time discussing the burdens we bear because of this writing life that has chosen us. But I think if we peel back the layers on that, and are honest with ourselves, what we really feel is an overwhelming gratitude to have been dealt this particular hand. Because what would our lives be if we didn’t feel compelled to discover the meaning and purpose to our existence? Who would we be if we didn’t have this crazy dream to drive us?
I don’t know the answer to that, and I’m glad. I don’t want to know.
Because writers, we are the lucky ones.