Writers are notorious complainers. The rejection is hard to swallow and the waiting tantamount to waterboarding. I’ve plastered positive idioms all over my vision board and I meditate upon them each time a pass (aka rejection) comes across my email.
But sometimes I ask myself, Heather, what are you doing?
Are you nuts?
Why are you blogging each week?
Shouldn’t you be concentrating on selling a few more houses?
Isn’t the obsessing over your writer’s Facebook page and Twitter account getting old?
Can you please relax about getting a book contract?
Silence! I tell myself lest you sound like a major complainer. Plus, I hate whiners. I’m more of the Just Do It Nike school of thought.
And most of the time I do—just do it.
But this writing business is hard. And breaking in is even harder. It can wear a person down.
In a few of my blog posts, I’ve hinted at my middle-aged-chasing-a-dream-angst (Do You Dread Birthdays?). My mom tells me to persevere. My husband insists that I never give up.
When I think about it, maybe they’re right.
Someone has to create the art.
Why not me?
If every person who had an idea, a poem, a play, or a painting hid her labors, there’d be no art in the world. It would be a bland place.
But it is nice to get some validation. Part of being a writer is having a reader. A great response on a blog post makes my week. A poor one puts me in a grumpy mood. When someone comments on one of my articles, gives it a LIKE on Facebook or a tweet on Twitter, or sends me a private message, I think, Okay, maybe I’m not nuts. Maybe I do have something worthwhile to say.
So is that why I’m doing this? To get a Facebook LIKE?
Yes and no.
One of my favorite recent books is Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. It’s a beautiful coming of age tale about girl who’s living many years in the future and the earth’s rotation has gone out of whack. The days are longer as are the nights. Everything starts to die but life goes on, too. At one point, there’s a tender scene in which the girl and the boy she loves come across a sidewalk of wet concrete. They carve a message into the pavement. But the reader doesn’t know what they write until the last line of the book:
We dipped our fingers in the wet cement, and we wrote the truest, simplest things we knew—our names, the date, and these words: We were here.
My blog and my novel are my wet concrete. Each week I leave a little of myself on the sidewalk—this is what my life was like and my family’s life, too. Maybe thousands of years from now cyber anthropologists, picking through the remnants of the World Wide Web, will find my humble blog and, in turn, understand a little about our time.
They loved their kids.
They worried about their weight.
They sold houses.
They made chicken for dinner.
They were lovers.
They (this family in particular) spent a lot of time at sporting events.
But even in the midst of everyday life, they still attempted to create.
Those futuristic scientists will recognize the same strand of humanity in me that they feel in themselves—it will be a thread connecting us in time and space—a sliver of immortality. Maybe through my weekly scribblings, we’ll be linked in human consciousness, in our collective unresolved need to make sense of why we’re here.
Yup, you might think I’m crazy. And that’s okay. Writing feels good.
So when things aren’t going quite right. And it seems like I am writing in vain, that maybe the hopes and dreams I have for my work won’t go beyond my tiny space on the internet, I remind myself why I’m doing this.
Because I was here.
For a short time.
And I was trying to make my life count.
To put my drop in the bucket of what it means to be human.
* * *
We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we’ve established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile. – Earl Nightingale
What will your legacy be?
Your children? Your work? Your art?