I wonder if I ever really had a choice. It kind of fell in my lap, somewhat forced itself on me. It was something I didn’t think much about until it was happening. The “it” is writing.
And it all started with a book, well 2 actually: “When Bunny Grows Up” by Patsy Scarry and “The Monster at the End of This Book” by Jon Stone. I’m sure I drove my family crazy, begging them to read the same books to me over and over. But it was in these books, and many to follow, that I fell in love with the beauty of language, with words, and thoughts, and creative energy on pages.
When I was younger, I read all the time, in the car, at the dinner table, in the bath tub…it was my escape of sorts. And I guess, it still is. In fact, I never read just one book at a time. I start more books in a month than I finish. And I rarely have a conversation without referencing a book I’ve read or am currently reading.
But reading never made me think of writing myself. Until one December night, in my blue apartment building, I started writing. I didn’t have a plan, just a thought, an inspiration, if you will, and I went with it. Initially, it was a thrill, a joy, a love. But then, as the months went on, I got scared.
The more I wrote, the more honest I got with myself and others. The more honest I got, the more insecure I felt. The more insecure I felt, the more I hid. I think my fear was one of feeling selfish for guarding writing time, and the other of wanting to keep people at a distance, and not share the real me.
Sylvia Plath once said, “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” I have that, self-doubt. I doubt whether the writing is actually worth reading. I doubt whether the ideas are worth writing. I doubt whether it’s all been said before. I doubt whether or not I’m wasting my time. I doubt whether it’s selfish. I doubt whether it’s just a phase.
That self doubt kept me from writing. And every day I didn’t write, it was like adding a hair in the shower drain, until I realized I was standing in ankle deep water because the shower drain was so full of nasty long hair. So I’m starting to write again. I say ‘amen’ to what Shauna wrote:
“For me, to write is an act of rebellion, an uprising against that part of me that needs to be responsible, helpful, adaptive. It is one of the first things, maybe the very first thing, that is entirely my own, that doesn’t help anyone, doesn’t make anyone else’s life easier, doesn’t facilitate or provide structure or administrative support for anyone else. I’ve always been a team player, a utility player, a workhorse, and to do something sheerly out of a deep love for the act itself feels foreign and vaguely scandalous. It feels, I’m realizing, selfish.” (Shauna Niequist-Cold Tangerines pg 78)
I feel selfish, taking a Thursday morning to write, instead of encouraging someone over a cup of coffee, or being productive by cleaning out my refrigerator. Writing for pure joy does feel foreign and scandalous, selfish and irresponsible. But what I write, comes to mind from the One who crafted my mind, and so I write to respond to Him. I take this pleasure and offer it back, sharing and embracing the beauty of language.
So here’s to getting up again. Here’s to not waiting for inspiration, but rather going after it with a club. Here’s to paying attention to this crazy, beautiful world. And here’s to making a craft of that love of language.