My first memory of writing is when I was about four or five. My mom would send letters back and forth to my oldest brother, who was in the Army. I decided to sit down and write him a letter. My little hands discovered pens and paper. I sat down at the table and wrote. when I was finished I handed the letter to my mom. I saw her look at it, and she put it into an envelope to mail. The only problem with this is that I didn’t know the alphabet, or how to form letters or sentences, so my message was just squiggly lines on the paper. At that moment, I wrote. It wasn’t perfect. Yet I think deep down my brother appreciated getting something from his little brother. Writing isn’t always about content. It is about contribution and sharing with others.
Writing has always been a constant companion.
When I have written, writing had allowed me to have my most significant accomplishments. Yet when I held back my writing, it has led to some of my biggest regrets.
In college, it was my writing that got me placed in advanced English. When I burned down my college career, my writing saved me. It was my letter to the Dean got my back into school. I still remember the dean why was I failing out of school? He said my writing was very good.
Yet my lack of writing was a contributor to me not finishing two Master Degrees. I wanted to write THE Thing instead of a thing. I researched, and researched composed pages but never turned in a completed thesis. Why? I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted to go where no one else had been. I wanted to introduce the world to new exciting ideas, and truths that would defy the laws of physics.
There is fear. Do an exercise with yourself and attempt to find the location of your anxiety. Find where it hides out. It doesn’t live in the expected place. I did this with myself and discovered a new site.
I believe my fear, is tied to competition, I am a competitive person. I want to win. I want to be the best, I want to be praised, and when I don’t get it, I get upset. For example in first grade we had a young authors contest, I wrote a story about a sabertooth tiger befriending a dinosaur, on the day of the awards I expected to win when I didn’t I was pissed.
Now I internalized all of this. I never argued with anyone. This even happened during altmba, I wanted to write the best posts every week, I expected to win one of the awards, when I didn’t I was bitter inside, I spit vitriol and bile internally. I hide this. I don’t talk about it.
I wrote to get famous. When I was in a screenwriting program, I would dream of winning academy awards and being filthy rich. I wanted wealth, and I wanted recognition. There is a wrestling match that goes on.
When I identified my desires to be famous, and wealthy, I would shame myself, and say that I wasn’t authentic, that I wasn’t allowed to write until I could write from a particular place. So I didn’t write. I would start projects, make plans, and goals, then stop. That was wrong. The secret to writing is writing, an excuse not to write is still an excuse not to write. I can’t wait until I have a perfect motivation or the right spirit. The only thing false humility does, it stops you from using your gifts and talents. It prevents you from sharing. It stops you from being generous. Our words belong on paper, on blog posts, on computer screens. Our words and our stories need to be sent into the world.
If your words stay in your head, then all you are is a thinker. If your words make it from your head to paper, you are a thinker, and you and a writer. You are generous.
Before Java I wrote with a chip on my shoulder, very defensive inside, and even angry. Since I have joined Java, I write pursuing freedom, writing just to use my gifts, writing to contribute and be part of a community.
Sometimes I still want to be famous and wealthy. But I know that fame and wealth that doesn’t make me a writer. It just means that people are paying me for my writing. A writer is a person who writes. That is what I do each week.
Being in a community and sharing my writing has taken away the desire to compete, the desire to win. “When you know who you are, you don’t need to compete.” Bernadette Jiwa said this in her book Story Driven . Being in a community of writers, I look forward to hearing about other’s people’s work, watching them advance. The world has room for all of our stories. My advice to anyone who wants to write is this, sit down with your paper, and your pen, and begin. Then share it. Then do it again, and again, and again.