Not today. Never today.
I'm up early, and have been awake for a good deal longer than this, working on the next round of revisions for my book. If there's any part of you that wants to be a writer, that fantasizes about a life of ease and joy and the casual spontaneity of the creative life, let me be clear. I've been stone cold awake since 4 a.m. staring at the ceiling and trying to pick apart the pieces of this book. It's no fun. There is no joy in it, at least not for me, not at this point in the process.
I want to talk for a moment about fear. I am sometimes too honest on this blog. There's a theory that the public presence of an author should point toward that author's book, that I should be spending this space on promotion. For whatever reason, I can't do that. It's important to me to live the troubles of my writing life as publicly as possible. When things are going well, I hope to tell you about it. Right now, this is how things are going.
I've mentioned before that it took me a long time to get started as a writer. I spent years and years telling everyone I was a writer, telling myself that I was a writer, maybe even sometimes actually writing things that I never did anything with and feeling pretty good about it. And the primary impetus to my trajectory was simple fear. Fear that I wouldn't be as good as I thought I could be, fear of rejection, fear of trying and failing and having to fold that dream up and put it away once and for all. At the time I thought I was unique in that, that this was a problem particular to me and to the way I was raised. I've discovered that it's a fairly common trouble for new writers, but when I finally threw it aside and started actually working toward that dream, I thought I was casting aside a weight that was singularly and intimately my own. Worse, I thought I was casting it aside, finally, for the last time. That it was a problem that had to be overcome once, and then was defeated.
That was when I turned thirty. Something about that age pushed me to a point of honesty with myself, that allowed me to finally take that step. Thirty. Ten years.
So it's completely appropriate that I'm facing that fear again. Facing it in a way that feels just as final, just as paralyzing, as the fear that took me through my twenties. I know more about the industry now, and about my own ability to persevere in the face of adversity. I've hit some pretty deep lows in the last ten years, while also managing absolute exultation. I know how easy it is to slip away in this business, to do something that looks a great deal like success, and by certain standards is the ultimate achievement, and still be absolutely, utterly failing. Whatever romantic ideals I brought to the table have been washed aside. I understand the blood of being an author. I understand the bones.
This is the fear that I understand, right now. It's possible to push really hard for ten years, to have a great deal of potential, to be a naturally talented writer with the determination to work hard, to risk everything, to get lucky enough to line things up and make a run at the big stage... it's possible to do all of those things and still fail. You can get right up to the edge and never make it over. People do it all the time.
That's the fear. That's what wakes me up at four in the morning. That's what I have to face.
But here's the next step. I am going to face it. I'm going to push through it. Fear woke me up, but god damn determination is what got me out of bed and put me in front of this computer. Fear reminded me that nothing is certain, nothing lasts, nothing is guaranteed to turn out well. But hope, and skill, and a history of falling down and getting back up and doing better each time, every time, that's what will carry me through. Whatever fear can do to me, I can overcome. I have. And I always will.
You get up, you throw aside that weight, and you carry the dream with you. You keep it for another day. Every day. Until it's real.