I know someone who has had seven books published. (Not J.K. Rowling but that would be awesome.) He wrote his first book late at night, after work, after dinner, and after his young twin sons had fallen asleep. Which, if you think about it, is a pretty ballsy move.
So, of course, I think I’m totally slacking.
I’ve wanted to write since I was just a kid.
First, I read. Voraciously. I spent afternoons practicing flute and reading books. I tucked novels onto my lap at the dinner table and cuddled up with them at night. I carried a book with me everywhere. So, in third grade, when Mr. Crowe forced the classroom to write multiple one-page essays per week, I knew all the words. I knew what I liked to read. So I wrote, mimicking the literature I’d used to pass my time.
In case you missed the hidden message there: I was painfully shy.
And I was much more comfortable writing anything than actually having to say it. Especially to people. With eyes. That were looking at me. And ears that were listening. Fuck that.
Later, I got older, I discovered things like boys and college and the reading became compulsory and the writing was journals and term papers. And, still later, I got even older, and I learned to read for fun again. And, here I am now, thinking, again, about how much I want to Be A Writer and for people to read what I have to say, with their eyes that are looking.
I admitted this once, to my boss – the one whose husband has the seven books – and I told her that I wasn’t A Writer yet because didn’t know what to write about. “Girl,” she said, “Live your life.” I think she’s right, and my life will give me my story. So that’s what I do, kind of. I mean, I do the best I can at living my life. And, some nights, I stop and look around and wonder: What is this story? Where is this all going?
I still know all the words, but I don’t know the story.
Your story is like a puzzle, except that you’re putting the pieces together with the picture side down and only the shapes of gray cardboard to guide you. Once a day, maybe, you might fit one in the right place. You have no idea what that picture is until you get them all together and flip the puzzle over. Then, suddenly, it’s so clear.
This is what I keep telling myself.
There is actually no way for me to actually know this.
But, right now, I believe it. I have to. What else can we do, those of us with words in our heads, and stories that we don’t yet understand? I just hope this is true, and that one day, the story will rip itself out of me, at night, after work, after dinner, after everyone has fallen asleep. I hope that I write it because I have to, no matter what, no matter how hard it is. I want it to be that important to me.
I want it to be truthful. I want it to say all the things I’ve kept inside because I’m better at writing than saying. I have no idea what those things are, but they’re in there. One day, the puzzle will flip, and it will say “Hello. I am here now and I’m beautiful. Show me to someone.” It’ll happen when I’m ready to make a ballsy move.