This Crazy Craft
The mania of the writing life is worth it
I never thought I’d pine for attention. It just happened.
Writing my first book was like learning to walk. I had not studied writing and my skill was raw. I stumbled and staggered, banging out words and trying not to fall on my face. I knew what I wanted to say, but I didn’t know how to say it. So I just said it.
To my amazement, the book took shape. It wasn’t Hemingway but it wasn’t garbage, either. I learned that writing was a lot of fun. But the fun stopped when I researched how to launch a book. I came across the proverbial holy grail the writing industry calls a platform.
Oh, so you mean I have to build a massive email list?
Oh, so I’m supposed to have a bunch of Twitter followers?
How am I supposed to do that exactly?
Books launched by obscure authors are obscure books. Hmm. I did the math. I had a handful of readers, mostly people in my gene pool. My blog posts landed with a thud. I waited for engagement on social media. I wondered if anyone noticed my epic journey of the pen.
I wanted my message to get out. This book mattered. But I felt invisible. Was my message weak? My writing? Oh, this is ridiculous. I’m not going to clamber for attention. Then I checked Facebook again.
Though my insecurity drug me down, I remained at my keyboard. I finished the manuscript. My editor worked his magic, and at long last the galley ended up in my desperate hands. I held it like Gollum beholding Precious. I splayed the pages open with my thumb and smelled the tiny wind between them.
It was worth it.
The writing life is insane. I don’t understand it. Writing is mud on white shoes; it is walking naked through your high school — and liking it.
My kids have the sleep schedule of a Marine drill sergeant, so I have to get up yesterday to write. My alarm is set at 4:45 a.m. I let my dog out of his crate and drag my feet to the kitchen table. Everything is arranged just so. Flash drive on top of my planner to my right. Laptop. Bible. Journal. Charger. I form the first words and then it happens: my soul catches on fire.
Someone once advised me to find the thing I can’t not do. For me, that’s writing. It doesn’t matter if I don’t feel well or stayed up too late the night before. It doesn’t matter if I’m writing a book or a blog post or an article. When the tips of my fingers start clicking on the keys, I come alive.
Writing is therapy. It is punishment. It is an unavoidable surgery. It is throwing up on yourself. Writing is messy. It is an amalgamation of emotion and fact and some common rules of grammar and spelling, most of which I don’t know.
I’m not a better person because I write. Writing is a lot like getting rich; it just brings out that which is already there. And though writing can unearth the darkness within, it can also reveal great beauty. It’s worth working it out on the page.
As a young father with two kids and a day job, I am often asked how I find time to write. It seems unfathomable to a lot of people, I guess. Well, I’m not a superhuman and I don’t have a ghost writer. I’m just a schmuck who can’t help but rise before the chickens to go play with words.
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