I don’t need to tell you of the epic failure I had in implementing my plan over the weekend, right? Of course not. You knew that before you came over. You knew I wouldn’t make it. Heck, you might have even known before the weekend.
This is becoming an issue I can’t seem to get my head around.
Of all the things I wanted to be when I grew up, there were only two that had any real tangibility, any real solidity, to them for me.
As a little boy, I wanted to become a doctor. And not just any doctor. I wanted to be a cardio-pulmonary specialist. Not surprising for a child with severe asthma, and respiratory issues from birth. I stayed on track with that pursuit for most of my first twelve years of school. From the time I was about four until eighteen, I thought I’d be a doctor.
My father made some disparaging remarks around my sophomore or junior year in high school though. He doubted I’d follow through, and that I only said I wanted to pursue medicine because it was a nice salve, a balm, to parents. When he said it, I had every intention of finishing medical school and embarking on that career.
But his prophecy became self-fulfilling. I don’t know what happened. I got derailed in college by a number of horrible decisions, and before the end of my first semester, I’d dropped out, never to return.
The end of one dream.
Nothing else really sparked me for a long time, so I drifted rudderless through life until one day I finally found something I wanted as much – being an artist. But time, life, training, cost, and a number of other life things all conspired to teach me a harsh life lesson – starving artist isn’t an option for a middle-aged guy with a family of four.
Finally, I began writing again. And like the ugly duckling who discovers it’s actually a swan – much nastier and meaner than ducks or geese, by the way – I fell madly and deeply in love with writing again. (Again because I’d written before, and loved it, and never thought seriously about it again.) I was forty then.
I’d dabbled some, toyed with the idea of doing something in the publishing industry. Editor or something, maybe. But nothing concrete came along until I realized I wanted to write. Be the person on the other side of that keyboard, banging out the stories. And so, with a newfound heart bursting with excitement and looking forward to every step along the way, I took off running in 2007 toward trying to figure out how to do this professionally.
Along the way I learned a lot about writing and publishing. And I thought, for some reason, there was no “formal” way to learn to be a good writer. One can practice and experiment, but there is either talent or not. Wrong, Yoda. There is not just do or d0 not. There is learning. So I learned a bit, and kept going.
To be clear, some of what I learned was good. Some was just plain garbage. And a lot of it revolved around myths. But I never lost my love for writing. I just didn’t focus on it – really focus on it – until the middle of last year.
So for eight years I’ve been accumulating craft books, reading writer blogs, and trying to write as my schedule permitted. I got caught up in a lot of stuff along the way, and none of it was writing related. The biggest of them was an obsession with the video game series Mass Effect, and now that the fascination of that is gone, there is Destiny. Yes, another video game.
But writing has remained. Under all the other occupations and preoccupations, there was writing. I’ve never felt the compulsion, the driving, break-out-in-a-sweat, hive-like response from not writing that other writers claim. I don’t get grumpy and snappy if I don’t write for a while. And my writing isn’t paying my bills (or even for a lunch monthly), so there’s no financial performance pressure on me to write. So a lot of time goes by between stories for me.
I used to think that was okay, but really, it’s not. What I want from my writing is to replace my income and become my mainstay for finances. Somehow, during the Gold Rush of 2009 and 2010, I missed the boat, believing that like Field of Dreams, if I built it, they would come. I wrote, I tossed it out, and I waited.
I’m still waiting, because that’s not how the world works. No one is going to suddenly “discover” my “brilliance” and buy me out of the work force into a Hemingway lifestyle of decadence and debauchery. So I wondered, and scratched my head, and I put together more short story collections and I waited some more.
But I really do believe I want this. I just don’t know if I can ever have this, because there is nothing, and I do mean nothing, stopping me from getting to the writing chair every night of my life. Nothing. I just…don’t get there.
And that, friends, is an indication that, maybe, I’m not a writer after all.
Today is a new day, and tonight is a new chance to get into the chair and get fingers on keys. If I want this, it’s not going to come sit in my lap waiting for a tip like an exotic dancer. I have to write. And I have to write a lot to make enough product to avail discoverability. And that’s the key.
I just didn’t write. My plans took a turn for the busy on Saturday, but when the day cleared of tasks, I found other things to do instead. I won’t regret what I did, but I do regret not writing. I believe both are possible. I guess I’ll see.
Today I have to work, and tonight…well, we’ll see. My plan is still the same. I have to crawl back into the story a bit and see where I need to make injections, then make them. And I have no excuse not to write. None.
Let’s see if I come up with one anyway.