Welcome back! I hope you all enjoyed your Christmases with family and friends. What did I get for Christmas? A full week off from work (i.e. time with hubs and lots of books). Thank you, Lord!
Aside from the illness I picked up (on Christmas Eve no less), I spent a good chunk of time blissfully lost in the well-crafted words of others. Two and a half books later, this became my conclusion: Writing is my passion. Writing is art. But somehow, in trying to make my art a reality in my life, it has become a formulaic checklist rather than pouring my soul on a page.
I’m not really okay with that.
I write because I love it. I find clarity as I scribble down my thoughts. I feel empowered by the structures of lines being strung together. I get lost in the lush imagery created by choice words in choice moments. I’m encouraged when I know my words connected with another human spirit and were able to uplift them.
And yet, I find myself reaching for the checklist of do’s and dont’s prescribed by those who have “made it” and doing everything I can to follow suit in an attempt to make a career of this myself.
But at what cost?
When I was younger, before those glorious days of terrible screeching internet connections that got disconnected any time someone picked up a phone line, the biggest writing rules were: 1-Don’t plagiarize. 2-Be an avid reader. 3-Find your own voice.
While these all hold true today, we haven’t extended that third rule to account for the ever-changing, post-advent-of-the-internet world. The heart behind rule three was to make sure you didn’t just copy someone else’s way of writing (especially after all that reading) but found your own way to make words meaningful.
So how have we not added a rule about finding your own path to express your art?
I’ve been watching webinars and reading books and attending conferences (which all have helped me tremendously on this writing journey, don’t get me wrong) that keep laying out a formula for how to get a book deal, how to build a platform, how to get your message out there. These are great things and I’d love suggestions on them, but I’m sick of being told that I’m guaranteed to find success if I “follow these ten steps…”
For one thing, it’s art. By it’s very nature it’s subjective. So I have no idea how any list of to-dos can generate success. And two, what is success anyway?
A million dollars in the bank and publishers lining up at your door to sign you? Yes, please! But let’s be real, the likelihood of that happening…well, we call that a miracle.
So what if no one ever knows my name, but one person is uplifted by my blog? What if I finish a manuscript that never gets published? I’m thrilled when I finish a half marathon–regardless of the time; finishing is the achievement. Why is finishing a manuscript without getting a trophy at the end any different?
I don’t have the answers. I’m tired of pretending to be an expert in life when the reality is I’m human and I’m learning and honestly, I may never know.
What I can offer, is the real me. Not a checklist version of me made to sound like I’m put together and can help you overcome hardship, but the real me, who struggles with life, and art, and wasting time. The real me who is constantly terrified that I’ve already wasted too much of my life living according to someone else’s rules, while slowly suffocating my inner art.
What I can offer, is a glimpse into my world, my successes and failures, to show you what is and isn’t working for me. Then you can make judgements for your own lives about what will work best for you. And maybe, we can come together to lift each other up when we fail and rejoice together when things go well.
What do you say?