Nephews are the bomb! Check out what my sister sent. I told her he might turn out just like me, and I think she almost died of a heart attack:
“I drew some cars. Ian said they needed to be race cars. He drew some fire coming out of their tail pipes to speed them up. Suddenly, one car caught fire. The other car turned into a fire truck and an elephant showed up to help put out the fire. A helicopter is also on the way now. Didn’t see that coming!”
This is where writing begins, which leaves me wondering about the twenty-seven year gap that grew between my initial desire to write and tell stories and the time at which I let myself write. Yes, I said let myself write, because I wanted to write a novel for many, many years before I actually sat down and typed my first words. There were so many things that held me back, and I wish I could rewind now and start sooner. I can only imagine what I would have learned, in the last ten years alone, that would have helped me be a much stronger writer today.
The most peculiar part is that my delay was largely self-inflicted. I’ve floated through degrees and career paths. Every single step of the way, I always asked myself: What’s next? What do you really want to do with your life? Every single time, I answered, “I want to write.” Then I quickly shoved that idea down as being ridiculous and irrational, and I dug around for something that might work out as second best. Yet, no matter how many times I squashed that relentless urge, it always spoke first. It filtered through my mind at every turning point, and I would toy with the idea for only a brief moment before shrugging it off as unreasonable.
I told only a few family members and friends that one day I wanted to write a novel, just to see how they would react, and gasp! They all said, “Do it!” Then I promptly ignored them, because clearly they were also being ridiculous. I couldn’t figure out why nobody would be reasonable or rational. Nobody would shoot down my dream. Nobody would push me to do something “normal.” Nobody laughed. Nobody acted like I was a fool. Nobody said anything snarky, and they didn’t need to. I did all those things myself.
I’ve always loved that quote, but I never took the time to stop and think who was doing the hating. I always assumed it would be someone outside of myself, which is how I became my own worst enemy. It’s how filling journals with writing and poetry in college turned into having an enormous crate full of empty journals as I entered adulthood.
This would be a much better blog post if I could point the finger at my schools, which never taught or encouraged creative writing. It would be better if I pointed it at my friends and family who laughed at me or mocked my deepest, darkest desires about writing, and it would be best of all if I could cite an instance where someone brutally and horrifically criticized my writing and stunted my confidence in my abilities to grow as a writer.
None of that happened. Okay, that’s a lie. Some of those things happened, but they didn’t stop me. It was always less about the outside influences and more about the inside influences for me. The real reason writing stopped, was because I stopped it. I couldn’t believe in myself or the power and joy behind doing something I truly loved, even if I might never be great at it. As a musician, I understood the logic behind practice makes better, but I didn’t realize writers had to practice too. I thought maybe they had some kind of internal magic that I didn’t possess. I thought I needed to stop dreaming, when really, I only needed to start writing.
It took a very long time to jump my own hurdle, but now, I’ll never turn back. I’m moving forward, and I’m going to write, even if it’s just for me. I’m going to write my daydreams. I’m going to write what inspires me. I’m going to write what crushes me and rips my heart to bloody, tattered shreds. I’m going to write stuff I hate. I’m going to write stuff you hate, and you know what? My writing isn’t going to hurt anyone, but me not writing? That does hurt someone. It hurts me, because I refuse to hate myself for what I am or to love myself for what I am not.