I suppose the time come’s in every writer’s life when one decides to actually be a writer. Take up the mantle, I mean. Get serious. Just do it. Commit, in a word.
You see, procrastination is a constant ailment to many, and I think writers especially suffer from that parasitic condition. There’s always next time to write that novel: next week, next month, next year. There’s always that deer-in-the-headlights moment when you realize that you’d rather be watching a movie, playing XBox, doing anything other than pound words onto a blank screen or sheet of paper.
But the stories never go away. They nestle in your brain at first, content to simmer quietly. But as they’re ignored, the voices get louder, the pulse throbs more intensely. The only way to rid yourself from the madness is to release those stories, let the characters spill across the pages, unleash those letters and phrases and sentences until they flood over the levees that tried to contain them and write themselves into an instant classic, a bestseller for the ages that immediately platforms you to fame and fortune.
In truth, your case may be more like mine. I had made a number of attempts at starting my novel. Several novels, in fact. I had more ideas than I had finished pages. I would stutter-start, breaking from one when I hit the wall and leaping into another. The result: I had a number of unfinished manuscripts. Unfinished being a nice way of saying barely started. I had accomplished nothing of substance, and only one thing stopped me from continuing in that pattern of repeated failure.
My 30th birthday.
As I reflected on that approaching milestone, I hit a sudden bout of depression that my normal solution of writing gloomy poetry couldn’t save me from. I felt that I had accomplished nothing, my life sucked, everything was useless, etc. My marriage was on shaky ground with both my wife and myself shaking our heads and wondering that immortal query: Why did I get married?
And of course it was marriage that I blamed for the premature death of my dreams. It was only at the very breaking point that I realized the truth, that revelation that every person must realize before they can repair the problems that plague them. Ready for it? Here it is:
I was the person to blame for my issues.
I never had the perfect life. I suppose it would easy to point the problems that no doubt helped shape my personality, but once a person becomes an adult the blame game is over. It’s either you take responsibility for your actions or spend the rest of your life being a victim of circumstance. Everyone has problems. I suppose I had it rough, but there are so many more that have gone through worse.
So I came to realize there was nothing so wrong that it couldn’t be fixed. Nothing wrong with my marriage, nothing wrong with my wife. There was, however, something wrong with my life.
I was unsatisfied. I had spent so much time and effort trying to be a provider and the man of the house that I had put aside pretty much everything that made me happy. When you sacrifice all of your sheep at the alter of pleasing others, you create a recipe for disaster. Eventually all of that shorn fleece comes back to smother you in your sleep. You dwell on your unhappiness in dark moments of vindictive thinking and end up just being downright unpleasant to deal with.
Something had to give.
My 30th birthday was looming. I had to do something. Something important, something to validate my reason for being on the earth for three decades. Something just for me. That’s about when I decided to write my novel. I needed time with my thoughts, which were extremely crowded with all of the stories crammed in my head, shouting for dominance over the self-pity and depression that had sprouted in the dank corners of my mind like mushrooms.
I needed a release.
I needed to write that book. The one story that cried out louder than the others. The fantasy novel, my ode to Robert Jordan, Lloyd Alexander, and all the other fantasy writers that captivated my reading life. I had started it many times, but I vowed to write it from start to finish, ignoring all the other projects until I finished.
The vow was made. The Journey had begun…