Picture this: A man (or woman) is high above you walking on a tight rope, arms out to either side not for balance but for show because he (or she) is walking normally. Or as normal as one can on a line, one foot literally in front of the other. He or she is looking straight ahead, a smile on the face with a look that suggests that maybe their mind is some place else.
Now, pan the camera upwards so that you’re above the person instead of under. Look at where they are walking and in reality, you see they are on the seam of the sidewalk. Why? Because to them it’s solid footing while to those below, it’s a tight rope.
It’s an optical illusion, one that writers create for themselves.
At least, that’s my opinion.
I’ve talked about how writers have to wear many hats to be successful though I did skip the business hat that will eventually (we hope) join the others, but that’s for the future. I’ve also discussed about who we lie to ourselves all the time for one reason or another. What I haven’t talked about, at least not that I can recall, is how we stay sane doing both. I want to talk about that because from the outside looking in, we might seem a bit, you know, nuts. Just like the person who thinks they are walking on the seam of a sidewalk as opposed to the tight rope we all know is really there.
The truth is, though, I don’t know exactly how we stay sane during the whole process. Perhaps what writers do is shrug when we realize everything we have to do to become successful and tell ourselves it’s part of the job. Part of the passion as well. Or maybe what we do is ignore it. If we don’t purposely think about the amount of hoops and pitfalls that sit in front of us and push through no matter what, it’s the mark of true dedication and passion.
But sometimes, when we least expect it, reality comes charging in to smack us in the chest with a javelin. I honestly think I’m a little insane, but only a little mind you. Perhaps what is even nuttier is that I keep doing it. I can’t stop writing (not that I’m inclined to stop mind you), but it’s not just the desire to write that has become important, or even the want to write well. No, what I keep doing is put myself through the pressure that comes with trying to write well. No wonder I have stress issues!
The truth, the absolute type as far as I can see it, is that writers in general and me specifically do it because we simply can’t help it. We have this need to prove ourselves, not only to anyone who we sucker into reading our stories for us, but also to the world at large. I meet so many people today that are trying to be a writer. Yes, they word it precisely like that “I’m trying to be a writer.” My issue with that phrase in the past has always come down to the question of “Do you write down stories?” If the answer is yes, then you’re a writer. If the answer is no, you’re not. But, I’ve come to the realization as of late that the phrase is the clue.
Individuals who say: “I’m trying to be a writer,” are not motivated. After they finish the first draft or actually have to sit their ass down at the computer and start writing their manuscript flake. They realize how much time, effort, hair pulling, teeth gnashing, and energy that goes into writing an imperfect first draft and say screw it, I’ll go try something else. Either that or they are intimidated by the process.
Individuals who say: “I’m a writer,” are the complete opposite. We groan, bitch, complain, and sometimes even through a tantrum as we process through each phase of the novel, but we don’t stop. We keep going while asking ourselves what in the hell were we thinking???? Even when the javelin smacks us we stand up, shake it off, give a minute thought about how insane we really are then keep going.
Here’s the kicker, for writers I mean, is that while we do the same thing over and over again, we don’t expect the results to be different, we just hope that this time it’ll work out as we planned.
Or maybe that’s just me…