I can still remember the innocent joy I felt when I began writing. I wrote for pleasure. I wrote to see where the story went next. I wrote to understand. There were no agent voices, no editor voices—nothing but the welcomed silence of my imagination excavating a story bit by bit. I know I will never go back to that voiceless place where there was nothing to fear. But I also realize that this is part of the writer’s journey. I realize the fear is what moves us forward, what gets us in the chair, what asks us to take the risks that help us grow.
And during the early part of my journey, I never had the audacity to call myself a writer. I was tinkering, playing, having fun with words. Even after the publication of my first book, I questioned whether I was a “real” writer. Or had I fooled everyone? Was it a fluke? Was I a counterfeit?
I can still remember the FIRST time it hit me. The first time I tried on the “Writer” title and it fit. It was long after TORTILA SUN was published. But it had nothing to do with holding a book with my name scrolled neatly on the cover. It had nothing to do with reviews, accolades, or awards. It had everything to do with a quiet sense of remembering why I write. It had everything to do with my desire to stay in the ring, to stay focused on the writing and to let the rest come as it may. Steven Pressfield (The War of Art) says that the battle is in our own heads. That we are programmed to feel rejection deep within and that our fear of this manifests itself in our thoughts which will always keep us from the writing.
I had my share of rejections, challenging moments, and tough times. I had often let these moments interrupt the art.
I know the resistance when I see it and I send it on its way.
No more do I fret over where the story wants to go or what the market looks like.
No more do I fret when I am out on submission, worrying whether an editor will
fall in love or not. You know why? Because there is always another idea percolating, another story demanding to be told. And as a writer I am focused on that.
Not that the other doesn’t matter; of course, we all want to
continue being published, finding readers to connect with etc. but when the
desire for this trumps the desire to tell the story, to spill our hearts on the
page…then we’ve lost our way.
Steven Pressfield writes “The artist committing
himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He
will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt,
despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.”
Wow! Who would sign up for that?
The writer. A real writer. Because a true writer has no choice
but to write.
A true writer knows that there is also joy in the arena and
being in the arena is better than standing on the sidelines.