Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Struggles of a Writer

I've just read a piece of advice this afternoon that was incredibly timely.  And it goes like this:

      Right here is your story. Your manuscript. Your career. So why the [heck] are you running in the other direction? Your writing will never chase you — you need to chase your writing. If it’s what you want, then pursue it. This isn’t just true of your overall writing career, either. It’s true of individual components. You want one thing but then constantly work to achieve its opposite. You say you want to write a novel but then go and write a bunch of short stories. You say you’re going to write This script but then try to write That script instead. Pick a thing and work toward that thing.

Click here for the original source.

I am incredibly, astoundingly guilty of this.  Running away.  I thought I was facing my biggest fear in writing a novel (that is, my profound fear of being alone), but I am still running from it in what I have learned is the best way possible:  by seeking the company of others.  One cannot write a novel, go about the active physical and introspective motion of pounding a keyboard with all one's got, by engaging with others.  It is just not possible. So, therefore, I must, after 44 years, learn how to comfortably be alone-- utterly and completely alone.

This will be hard for me, I must tell you.  Maybe the hardest thing I have ever done.  Close to needing the  amount of strength that I can only assume would be required to overcome addiction to cigarettes. I have only lived alone for a total of less than 2 years, but in those meager two years, I managed to stay engaged with others most of the time.  In fact, I probably managed to be with people for almost all of my waking hours (and even many of my non-waking hours to be blunt). I would wake up, get dressed, go to school, then to work, then out after work somewhere or invite others over to my apartment.  I was never lonely and if I was, it never lasted long.  I would always manage to find someone to be with (the quality of the other person sometimes had to be brushed aside, but no matter).  I was afraid to be alone then, more than 10 years ago, and, sadly, I still am today.

But, and this is a whopping BUT, I never let my fears go on forever.  I have simply been dealing with other fears in my life.  For instance, I, at one time, had intense and debilitating social phobia (ironically it would seem).  So, what did I do to get over it?  Traveled to Europe for the first time--alone, and had a crazy, wonderful, liberating time doing it--meeting people I would have never dreamed of meeting if I had stayed at home.  So, in other words, I was never really alone (once again).  Just left my home by myself.  Another fear of mine---giving presentations.  So, what else did I do? I went through a grueling Masters program that required complete surrender of my own isolation by being put on the spot for every minute of every seminar that I attended, giving many of my own 20-30 minute presentations along the way.  I think I am finally cured of that fear now, too.  And thank goodness for that.

So, now the time has come to work on my stubborn fear of solitude, once and for all.  I know it will be hard.  I know that I will probably keep giving up, over and over again, finding myself back where I started.  But, one thing I do know absolutely.  Something good will come out of it:  my writing. My cherished, soul-wrenching, profound, uniquely raw and unspoiled, and, I hope one day, brilliant writing.

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