I get hooked by books, and by that I mean, jerked out of the water like a slimy big mouth bass with my fins and tail twitching, and my mouth opening to breathe in air, when I’m used to water. I love a fish-out-of-water book that hooks me deep. With each new read, I hope it happens again.
It’ a challenge to cross the line from reading to writing. Some authors have such skill and vision that I worry I might defile them somehow when I scribble down an idea or sit at the keyboard. But still I take my seat, intimidated by an unwieldy combination of insecurity and hubris, grasping for the first words. Yes, the same words that compel me to write cripple me in the next moment. The irony is not lost.
A while back, while talking with friends, someone said, “I wonder what my book would be like, if someone gave me the time to write it.” She spoke with easy confidence that her un-written book would be worth reading, but it was the second half of the sentence that caught me. The if someone gave me the time part. It had the same ring as when I win the lottery…
It stuck in my mind and I had to think it out. It seemed like waiting for someone to give you the time to write was kind of like getting a pass from gym class. It’s a reason you don’t have to get undressed and be awkward with sports equipment.
Besides, how would someone else give you time? No one I know has a second to spare. Even people who are languishing seem pretty busy about it.
My writing time is embezzled and I feel the guilt. I steal from loved ones, from chores that want doing. I steal from my own sleep. Hardest of all, I steal from my young mare, precious moments that will never come back. Nothing feels given, it’s all taken from places it’s needed and my selfishness leaves a trail.
But on the other hand:
“Oh my God, what if you wake up someday, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.” -Anne Lamott
In the beginning, it isn’t about how well you write at all. Any possibility of brilliance is totally over-shadowed by the mundane first step. You have to sit down and write, with time stolen from important things, and then snatched again, and again–with a sideways grin and a fist pump in the air. Mine!
The hardest part is done–the manuscript is finished and off looking for a press. Now with a polite rejection letter, I’ve joined the elite ranks of pre-published writers. Pretty pleased about it. Count me one step closer.