The alarm goes off at 4 a.m. every day. I make a cup of coffee and face the blank screen. I attempt to put words to the pictures inside my head.
It is hard.
The words don’t come quickly or easily and they are often edited by my fears. The layers of resistance I’ve built around me cling tight and bind my arms to my sides.
Nobody is asking me to write this blog.
Nobody is asking me to write my book.
Nobody is begging me to put in the time.
No, that isn’t entirely true. There is a little voice, sometimes barely heard over everything else, which is pushing me to do it in spite of all the reasons I tell myself no.
It’s this fierce little writing warrior nagging at me and reminding me how good it feels to sit and create.
It is me and I it.
It feels both noble and pointless.
It feels both powerful and depleting.
I’m learning I have to fight every day and it may never get easier.
I may be fighting for the rest of my life against all the lies and crap I’ve clung to. I may always hide behind the obligations and distractions I use to give myself permission to not do the creative work my heart longs for.
I might never feel brave or bold or fierce.
Yet, I’m still here and my passion and love for writing is too. Every time I get to the moment when the words start to come or a character begins to talk to me, the magic of writing sucks me in and I again remember why I’m not tucked in my warm bed.
Writing my book makes me feel alive like nothing else, yet it is the hardest thing to make myself do.
Playing a game on my phone or folding laundry is so much easier and I get instant payoff, advanced to the next level and clean clothes in the closet.
There is no instant quantifiable payoff for drafting a good sentence. Nobody is reading over my shoulder and patting me on the back for creating a particularly vivid image or getting the tone of my character’s voice just right.
Yet, the feeling is something I crave. It is as if I momentarily tap into some hidden part inside me, usually dormant and buried deep down, but once ignited dances and rejoices openly like a kind of divine freedom.
I want more.
As a mother, I have seen how easily and freely children find this creative high. They draw, paint, sing, dance, sculpt and write with an abundance of carefree joy. They don’t want or need approval. They create because it is as natural as breathing and running.
Then someone comes along and tells them they are doing it wrong or they aren’t any good. Then they begin the painful act of comparing themselves to others.
This is when it becomes hard.
I see it with my daughter. She loves playing the keyboard. She sits at it for hours every day and she is starting to get pretty good. She enjoys creating new songs and learning new chords. There is a passion driving her completely separate from me and perhaps even from herself.
Yet the resistance is coming. I know it. The moment she meets someone better than her or starts comparing herself to the musicians on the radio, she will be confronted with it.
It will be hard.
She will look to me and I will tell her the truth. I’m still trying. I’m still pushing. Once you have a passion for something, it never fully leaves you. You have to keep going through the hard shit, through the tears and frustration and the horrible feeling you are never going to be good enough.
You keep going even if the payoff never comes.
We do it because it feeds our soul. We do it because once we stop moving forward, we allow in depression, loneliness and hopelessness.
She may have to feel all the bad things in order to believe me, but I’m going to be here. I’m going to hold out my hand and tell her to believe and to fight.
The passion driving us needs to be bigger than the forces against us.
We have to find a way to fight, even if the payoff is only a moment of joy.
My desire to create is my reason to get out of bed. Even as the words don’t come and I feel I will never finish this book or any other project, I am happier in the muck of trying than when I don’t try at all.
I’m writing these words because I need to read them and feel them.
I need to declare to myself the truth I know in my heart.
I am a writer.
I am dedicating myself to showing up and putting in the hard work.
I’m exposing all my weakness so I can get stronger.
I’m not allowing myself to succumb to distraction.
I’m acknowledging my fear, but not giving it the power to take me down.
I’m giving myself permission to write thousands of bad sentences in order to have the feeling of creating just one magical one.
I’m accepting it will never get easier, but asserting I will never quit.
I am a writer.
I drink coffee and I make shit up.