I think it’s time we discussed why writing is important to you. Not because you don’t believe it is, but I know you’ve had a few doubts and fears creep in over the past few months. It’s normal. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep fighting to believe that what you’re doing is worthwhile, and here are some reasons why.
Writing is just part of you. It’s part of your make-up, part of how you operate. It’s one of your greatest callings in life, a fun way to be creative, and everything in between. So all your questions about everything you want to write about-you’ll figure it out as you keep writing, not as you keep sitting and pondering. Write! Write about those fun little meandering paths down ordinary life, like the goofy things your kids do, library books you love, and childhood memories. Write about those dark, hidden, hard-to-navigate mazes that are exhausting and rewarding to write about because they require so much concentration-literary criticisms, gender issues, and social issues like human trafficking. I know they seem daunting, not the least reason of which is because it feels impossible to pursue these things because you are frequently interrupted. Some of them you may need to put on a shelf for a few weeks at a time; that’s ok. Keep stoking their embers because they are important. Keep turning them over, even if you don’t publish your efforts for a time, because in doing so you will begin to see how these deeper mazes are connected to the more visible, everyday paths.
You see, I’m convinced that this discovery is significant for a writing life. Yes, you have a deep sense of privacy. You’re not a writer because you want to be famous or to shout from a mountain top everything that’s on your mind. Actually you’d rather avoid that like the plague. But words carry weight; words join or divide, and anyone willing to take on the banner of writer must learn that words weave ways and break down barriers. Barriers in self, barriers to how we view self, barriers in how we connect with others. I guess what I’m trying to say is, life is meant to be whole, and writing reflects that. Writing can help realign the discord and disconnect that occurs in our scramble to achieve our own goals, our own facades, our own kingdoms. But that’s a post all it’s own. Suffice it to say for now, don’t confuse layers of life with a fractured life.
And finally, self, don’t compare yourself to others. It won’t help you at all. You are most vulnerable to doubt when you start thinking you are insufficient because doing what you love (writing) isn’t making any visible progress (acceptance by publisher, earning income, etc.) like so-and-so. It’s still worth it. You know that, but don’t forget that visible progress isn’t necessarily a sign of value. I can’t say it enough: keep going. Don’t forget the picture that spurred you to write more in the first place. Lucy was who she was meant to be when she saw Aslan. In that moment, no one else saw it, but that didn’t matter. In that moment, all the unkind words and unattainable beauty she’d gazed at were gone, and she had the promise that the story she loved most would be hers forever. Dear self, do not forget that while you hold a book of spells, the real Author is just down the hall. It matters most that you remember who sent you on this task in the first place. Living hope is the reason you keep going. It’s-He’s- your best guiding light.
That’s my abstract, symbolic, and idealistic (though not unrealistic) note to you, self. It’ll be here for you as you navigate the concrete details of life.
Taking a Deep Breath and Hitting “Publish”.