“Happiness for me, or I suspect any writer, is plenty of paper and plenty of pens. Isn’t that such a simple concept?
Yet, for a writer, anyone who measures their calling as a heartbeat, a desire, a burning or ringing, whose only way to turn it down, drown it out, is to pick up that pen, open up and power on their laptop and squelch the burn with the begin to the begin.
The paradox is wrapped up with passion is its ugly companion fear. This fear keeps us locked in between these two worlds, trapped in the invisible walls of one who can see, hear and feel this call, whose words echo and pulse shoots in our veins, and the mysterious fear that lives alongside our ideas, our need to tell the stories we’ve fabricated or poems we’ve written or stories we have lived or studied. It is living between these two worlds – of regret, fear, rejection, self-doubt – that we know what reliance on self can do. It can literally kill brilliant stories before they’ve begun.
And worse, reliance on those around us, if we listen to them, could stomp out the most brilliant in all of literature. For our modern day Shakespeare equivalents are being born as we speak, they are in school, or in retirement, considering writing that crucial story that will serve as a model in future English courses decades down the road. The truth is that we must not listen to the world around us and all their opinions and reasons for why we mustn’t write.
The absolute truth is we owe it to ourselves and those in our community and our generation and those beyond, to keep the story going; to tell the accounts of our soldiers, our mothers, our lovers, whatever is inside us; to preserve, pontificate, project, propel us forwards with that tiny voice inside that says do it, rather than cave and halt, conceding to the many more that say don’t.
Who am I to tell this story I have? Why me? I haven’t got an English degree. When I posed this question to my friend – with an MFA in painting – she said “so what, you think I have a degree in graphic design? And yet, here I am doing it!”
It doesn’t require a degree. You needn’t have read a thousand books. The worst read member of our writers group writes some of the best stories. If it’s in you, it’s in you. Pick up the pen and let the story unfold. Power on your laptop and show up to the adventure.
There will be hours, days of rough spots when doubt will creep in. ‘They were right, this is a horrible idea!’ Then you’ll have glorious sprints, spurts of six thousand word days where you’ll feel more alive than when you had your first kiss or felt your heart thump in love.
Welcome, writer. The world is waiting for you. You needn’t be rid of fear – I don’t think it goes away for any of us. Don’t let your fear sweep you out to sea forever. Plant your feet deeply in the sand and stake your claim.
Get going, tell us. Even if it takes you a decade, ten minutes a day. Everyone has ten minutes a day.”
-Wendy K. Williamson