The words won’t come. I have topics I want to cover, stories I want to write, songs and poems and comic books, I have a million ideas but the words won’t come. I talked before about how freeing it is to be faced with a blank page, but I haven’t mentioned yet the anxiety of a half filled one.
I read once that love is forever but passion lasts three years. It was in literary class in our equivalent of high school. Some French romance author had written a book on this basis, and that sentence has been stuck in my head ever since. That’s why French people rarely get married before 3 years of relationship, per example. But it doesn’t just apply to romance.
Stories are something I love. Something I have always loved, and I know that this is a love that will last forever. On the other hand, I’ve only been writing semi consistently for a little less than 3 years. See where I’m going?
This is the stage in my relationship with writing where I wonder if this is a passion or a love story. Now that the shine of doing something new and rebelling against what was expected of me is wearing off, will my words leave me? Will I be left alone with thoughts I can’t put on a page like a sobbing lover whose passion is dying and is desperate to keep it going just a little more, just for another month? Will my affection towards a blank page become irritation?
As time passes and things happen in my life that push me away from writing for a few days or weeks, I find it harder and harder to come back to it, as if I was anticipating the demise of this relationship I have built with my craft.
I keep finding reasons not to engage in it. I’m too tired. Not in the mood. I have a headache. Maybe later. Let me finish this video. Just another coffee first. I’ll get to it in a minute.
Except I don’t.
I have a story sitting at 10k words, that I’m proud of, that I want to continue, that I haven’t touched in months. It’s right here, the file is open. I know where I want it to go. I know it’s a good first draft so far and people will enjoy it. But it’s figuratively gathering dust in the corner of my screen while I write short pieces and poems and draw and do a bunch of other things. I’m losing my momentum.
To be completely honest with you, I’m scared. Hell, I’m terrified. What if I made a terrible mistake and I’m not good enough for this. What if I was just dreaming of being a writer but never of writing. What if I have been fooling myself for 3 years, convinced I could make a career out of something I love, but am too lazy to actually pursue. This isn’t writer’s block or imposter syndrome, it’s a true questioning of my love and passion. What if I’m passionate but not in love?
What if, indeed. I am typing those words after all. I am writing something. So what if I don’t write an international best-selling epic fantasy saga. I’m still a writer. I am writing. Every day. I hone my craft even when I’m just texting a friend or tweeting. I use metaphors when I talk, I research my topics, I tell stories all the time. My stories.
So what if it doesn’t last. I still have written a bunch of things, that a bunch of people have read and enjoyed, that have resonated with some and made others think. Am I famous for it? Hell no. Am I proud of it? Hell yeah. I did something that I wanted to do and I did it well.
Maybe I will never finish that story, and that’s okay. Not every draft has to become a full novel. I prefer short form anyways. I’m not lazy, I’m specialised. I’m not a failure, I’m learning. And if a passion only lasts 3 years, that doesn’t make it any less meaningful. A lot of things happen in 3 years.
In the past 3 years I have moved 5 times, lived in 3 different countries, owned up to 11 rats and a cat. I have created a publishing company and left it. I have published short stories and comics, organised and edited anthologies, worked with wonderful people, laughed, cried, ate, slept. I’ve been thin and fat and thin again, paralysed and able bodied again, angry and calm again. I battled anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, and a damned eating disorder. I got 2 new tattoos and a piercing. I learned how to make rasta locs, how to draw a cat, how to make a website. I dyed my hair crazy colours just for the fun of it. I made love, made friends, made mistakes. I danced in the rain and slept in the sun.
And during all that I was afraid. But I did it anyway. Because I could.
Sometimes I laugh that my laugh is the debut novel of a young writer who hasn’t learned how to plot a story. Someday perhaps I’ll write it. In the meantime, the stories of the last 3 years are proof that I can write, whether it’s a love or a passion, and that I can write well even in difficult circumstances.
I will probably never be rich from my writing, even if I keep at it for the rest of my life. And that’s okay. I won’t write a New York Times bestseller, and I honestly don’t care. I’d rather make children laugh and adults wonder.
All my questioning leads me nowhere except at the end of yet another page, and by itself that answers my question. If I can write 1k words about being afraid to write, I think we can safely assume I am indeed a writer, and a decent one at that. It will last because I want it to, and when I stop wanting it to, I’ll find another way to tell stories. Because stories are my one true love, the one that has kept me alive all these years, in sickness and in health, in wealth and in poverty, for better and for worse.
Now comes the time to stop asking and to keep on doing what I do best: anything. Because I can.