[ a w o r k - i n - p r o g r e s s ]
Writing is damn hard. It really is. Most of the time, I sit in my own little space -- coffee shop, home, library, whatever it is -- just trying to catch a wave. Praying, most of the time, that today will be a day when something seizes and won't let go. I tug on threads of words all the time, hoping that if I keep pulling, it will lead me to something big. A sweater maybe. A kite. A golden rope to heaven.
I'll be honest: that hasn't been happening recently. Most threads have been dead ends. And the problem with writing is, like most arts, and unlike most other "traditional" jobs, validation is far and few between. You're constantly trying to prove to both the outside world AND yourself that you deserve to call yourself a writer. So what if you find a story to write? No guarantee you love it. So what if you love it? No guarantee anyone else will. So what if somebody does, and publishes it? No guarantee that it will ever matter. Is a writer still a writer if she hasn't written anything in a few weeks? Months? Days? Is a writer still a writer if she never publishes a book?
These are the kind of dark, paralyzing thoughts that a writer faces. These are the kind of lows I battle constantly.
But the thing is, you don't write because you want to. You write because you need to. You aren't a writer because you chose to be. You're a writer because it chose you.
When you have that one undeniable truth, there are no options. You sit in the surf and wait for the wave. You show up to work and face that blank page. You hope and you hope and then you collect the tiny validations to push you forward another day. You take that one encouraging rejection letter and cup it in your hand -- don't stare at the We're sorry but and focus on the This had beautiful imagery. These tiny sparks are what will keep you going until you can stoke a bonfire. That's all we really have to feed upon sometimes, really.
There was a day a few weeks ago when I was feeling massively demoralized. I had just received four rejections in a row. I had spent three days sitting in front of my computer to no avail. My stories were fits and starts of things I didn't believe in or care about. I re-read Steve Jobs' commencement speech text and cried. So I sat down to write about all of this, to write about how hard I was holding on to the hope that love for the art above all else made this all worth it. To write about how I couldn't know how this would all fit together but I had to have faith that it would because I made the hardest and rightest choice already. Seconds after I posted these thoughts, an email came into my inbox, asking me to read at KGB Bar.
I thanked the Universe for giving me this little bit of something to hold on to.
This reading is being themed as a "Works-in-Progress" reading. Which is apropos because everything I'm working on is as work-in-progressy as you can get. Progress that is extremely slow. Though, who am I kidding? Every work is a work-in-progress. I'm a work-in-progress.
I have no idea yet what I'll be reading, though I'm excited to be reading at such a great venue with several other great writers. I feel lucky and grateful to have been invited to share some of my words with others. These are the kind of events that remind me I do get to call myself a writer and that things are progressing, however agonizingly slow it sometimes might seem. This is all part of the process. And I'd love to have you join me.