[My creating work is writing. Replace "writing" with whatever work you do, or want to do, and see if that rings true for you.]
Here I am and trying to get into the habit – writing – actual writing, not just looking at stuff I’ve already written or outlining things I might write in the future but just this act of putting word after word after word after word on the screen.
I am making an assumption here about work and about writing and it’s hard for me to focus on it and take it and myself seriously. My man is going to watch the kids, is taking over for this time period like he said he would so I can write. Part of me is so happy to have this, so ready for this time… and part of me wants him to say, last minute (that would be now): Hey, sorry, I can’t do this, I need to spend my time on the work that actually makes us money, I need to attend to my actual real professional work, you know, the JOB that brings in the paycheck.
He is much, much too good to say that.
But part of me wants that because that gives me an excuse, a distraction, a reason to not do the work and not take the risk.
And though I want to write and be validated, though I want so badly to produce and to publish, to write and to reach, to sell and to work, I also fear it all.
The whole process, from start to end…
Can I actually write anything worth reading? That’s still a question in my mind.
Or can I even write? Do I have the guts, the stamina, the focus, the ability to sit and write for more than a little here and there? I am deeply deeply afraid that if I have and I take actual time, every day, to put words on paper I will quickly quickly quickly run out of things to say, run out of words, run out of stories, run out of ideas, run out of thoughts, run out of reasons to sit here and write.
I will be found out.
I am a fraud. I’m not really a writer, I’m just a Mom who wants some good excuse to sit quietly and focus on something besides being a Mommy, just a stay-at-home Mom who wants something besides cleaning the house and folding the laundry and wiping the messy faces and cooking the meals and so on, but didn’t have the nerve enough to grab a career when she had the chance.
Not really valid. I mean, if that’s all I need, I should just go get a massage and a cup of coffee and be done with it and quit trying to make myself into more. Or I should put the kids in school & daycare and get a job. But I know that’s not what I want, not really.
There’s that fear, though: the fear that I can’t actually write, that I’ll run out of words, that I don’t have more than a few sentences, a fluff article, things other people tell me to write, that my talent is merely in arranging other people’s thoughts and ideas and stories in a cleaner, nicer way…
…that I can’t actually produce my own thoughts and ideas and stories.
Skin-deep talent, not soul-deep.
I am afraid of discovering that. So an excuse to keep me away (once again) from time for writing is also a way to protect myself from finding out that there’s really nothing there to write, that I’m not really a writer, that I’m just pretending.
Is the pain of not knowing worse than the pain of knowing?
I think knowing would be better, actually. Because it could lead to freedom. If there’s nothing really there, then I could find that out, and then I could quit being tortured about wanting to write and not writing, wanting to create and not creating.
I could let it go.
I could just relax in my downtime instead of feeling like I should be writing something. I could just read, instead of reading and thinking how I should be writing too, how I could write these stories, how I have these things to say.
How much easier that would be. How much simpler. How much better? I don’t know.
Feels like it would be kind of sparse.
Maybe I could take up something crafty. I could make baby books for the kids. Organize our photos. Hang pretty stuff on the walls. Learn how to sew. Go to the gym. Start running. Get a dog. Get a job.
You know. Stuff that normal people do. That would work, right? I could do that. Yes. I could.
But what if I find out different, what I find out what I both fear and suspect and hope and dream and dread all at the same time?
What if I find out that I am a writer, that the more words I spill out on the page the more words are waiting there to be spilled out? What if I found out that I am just scratching the surface with these 20 minute free writing sessions, that I am just priming the pump, and that the ideas, the thoughts, the stories, the words, all the things below the surface are just waiting, just waiting, waiting, waiting to be released, to be energized, to be given life and form and sent into the world?
What if that is true?
…and I start with a mere half hour a day of writing, and soon I am at an hour a day of writing, and then 2 or 3 or 4 or 5? And what if I find out I can do that – really, truly – can sit at the screen or with the notebook for 2 or 3 hours a day and write and keep writing and keep writing and not run out of words to put on that screen, on that page?
That could happen.
And that’s when the second fear surfaces.
It’s the fear that I am a writer, that I have to write, that I can’t not write, that all the words are there, that they will not dry up, that this does actually mean more to me than I can say, that writing is at the core of who I am, it is an essential part of my identity, that I can and must and will write and that won’t end until I die… it’s the fear that all that it true, but that
nothing I write
that other people
The fear of oblivion.
The fear of creating, producing, releasing, putting it out there, and then having the whole world kind of shrug and say, Meh. Not interested. Whatever.
Oh, that fear is huge. Because as essential as writing is – the most essential – the other part is only slightly less essential.
A creator wants to create for a purpose. A producer wants to produce something meaningful. A writer wants to be read. No, not everything, not every word, not for every one. But enough. A significant amount of what I write being read, wanted, accepted, questioned, critiqued, absorbed by a significant number of people who want to read it.
And that part is so out of my hands.
The only part I can control is the writing part. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got, it’s all I can do, it’s all I can control. And I can only create, only offer what is in me to create, to produce. If that is received or needed or ignored… I can’t predict that, can’t control it.
And that is the scary part, so scary, so frightening.
Although even if that happened… I think… I think… I would still want to write.
I would still want to create.
I would still need to produce. Even if it were unwanted, ignored. It would still be there. I would have done my part. And that’s the deepest fear I have, I guess, though I don’t acknowledge it often enough:
The biggest fear is that I won’t do any of it.
I won’t even push myself to find out if I am a writer. I’ll keep finding excuses. I’ll keep tolerating distractions. I’ll keep allowing my own procrastination and lack of focus and lack of discipline and fear to push me into corners, keep me busy, keep me looking at all these details and spending the years of my life on one minuscule thing after another, all while I just ignore the important work that I need to do.
And it’s not that I think I am so big and important, or even that what I write is big and important. I just feel like this is the work I am called to do – yes, I am also called to be a wife, be a mother – but there is room for all these things if I make it so, and if I cut out the unimportant, lesser things that I’m not called to do or be.
I fear that failure more than any other one. I fear that I will keep letting the years go by without writing, at least not routinely. I fear that I will reach 40 and then 50 and still be talking about how I’m going to produce, how I’m going to create… and all I’ll have to show are these notebooks full of ideas and outlines and plans and starts.
I fear not pushing myself. I fear not finishing. I fear settling. I fear accepting mediocrity as a way of life. I fear my own ability to justify and make excuses and say, It’s just not time yet.
It is time.
This is the only time.
So I have to take it seriously, I have to do it, even though the fears roar at me, even though the fears won’t stop screaming, even though the fear is in my face, right now, even as I type these words, even as I look at my own fingers moving, I feel my chest tightening and my heart beating and my whole body getting tense and anxious because…
What am I going to find?
What is going to be the result of this? What disappointment waits? What failure? Will I have to face how shallow I really am, what a fraud I really am? Will I have to stop saying I’m a writer because I will, once and for all, know that it’s not true?
I fear that. But I have to find out. I have to find out.