It’s wonderful to have someone in your life who knows you in and out and when it’s time, will call you on all of your excuses you put up. This is especially helpful for a writer. Even with all of the great courses available to help you get over writer’s block, fake it out, avoid it, jump over it, whatever, it’s still sometimes hard to face the blank word processor.
The problem is it can also be quite painful to have someone who knows you so well, they know all of your excuses and when you’re driving up the highway at 75 MPH and just feel the need to vent, can call you out and down to the carpet. Who will let you vent but make sure once you feel better, you’re up for some sort of action behind it.
The kind of person who will tell you you’re trying to stay in your comfort zone.
Feels good there. Nobody can criticize or hurt you there. You can be safe there. You don’t grow there, unfortunately, and you can atrophy and die there.
I couldn’t even tell you the year I stopped writing poems. One day I just did. When I was a teenager just beginning to write poems, there was a return of joy when I would write one. As I inched into adulthood, that joy lessened. Especially when I’d workshop a poem in the group I was involved in. Poetry was something I liked as an exercise when I was younger. As an adult, it just dragged me down.
This is not a good place to be when you’re beginning to feel like you’re missing it and want to pick it back up but have lingering doubts that overshadow any feeling of joy you might feel for the simple pleasure of writing a poem again. In the comfort zone, you don’t have to overcome that and fight for that happiness and joy again. No, you have the TV and other interests to distract and even pacify you, somewhat.
In the comfort zone, you can write plays and put them into drawers. Write essays and leave them in Google Drive or post them on your website that you don’t promote. No need to worry about people reading them there.
That’s where I am and that’s what it’s come to. Not exactly how I envisioned my writing life at this age, but that’s where it is.
The question posed to me yesterday as I balled down the highway was: will you bet on you?
It’s one thing to ask whether you’ll try writing something and sending it out. Or will you perhaps begin again to work on a monologue and perhaps run down to a photographer and get a new headshot.
Will you bet on yourself?
Will you give yourself permission?
Permission to take those evening hours and make something and share it. Permission to say, “here I am, yep, this is me.”
It’s easy to make that weekly TV schedule, DVR your shows, and get ready to watch, when you haven’t taken a step towards the life you say you want but feel like you haven’t the foggiest how to get there. That’s being overwhelmed. It’s easy to curl up with a blanket at that point.
Betting or permitting require more courage. Require you to dip that toe out, with the possibility there not that it’ll get bitten off by an alligator, but that your toe will get swept up in a wave, flinging your whole body into a larger, yet wonderful world that you don’t know. It’s always the not knowing that’s the “but.”
Still, though, that’s where the life is. It’s not in here, it’s out there. The question is how long can you stand the pain of being stuck. Of perhaps wanting to be stuck.
What is the point of staying, though?
What do I have left to lose? More days? Is it an easier feeling to think I may one day check out of here without seeing my name on the spine of a book? I used to run into the Borders books in Downtown D.C. (I think it was at 14th and I, NW) and nurse a dream of seeing my name on the spine of a book. I think I left that dream outside of this bubble. It might not be out there waiting on me still, but I wonder if there are 10, 20, 50 more waiting there to take its place.
I’m going to ask myself these questions during devotions tomorrow morning. Do I have it in me to bet on myself to succeed at this? And can I give myself permission to? Come back in 6 months and see if I have any new publications listed. You’ll know the answer then.