Not he is great who can alter matter, but he who can alter my state of mind.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, The American Scholar

I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the fact that I’ve finished more short stories in five weeks than I have in five years. That’s a bitter root to chew on, but there it is. I’ve gone over ad nauseum how learning something new, especially learning something worth learning, is hard work. Gee, if you’re breathing, that’s not exactly breaking news.

And they may not be great stories, but I don’t think they’re half bad. Some people seem to like them and I can’t thank enough, those of you who’ve taken the time to read and comment.

Still, frustrations mount day in and day out and it’s only after crawling away from the bloody slog that I can look back and see that at least something has come of it. I need to remember the most important question in this whole thing:

Am I learning how to be a better writer?

So far, I think the answer is yes. Though we’re never the best judge of our own work, I’ve gotten better at not only spotting where my work doesn’t quite equal that of writers I admire, but also why. I try to record and remember those lessons so they’ll stick with me on the next go-round, which thankfully is not several months or years down the road, but next week!

A couple of months ago, if you were to ask me how long I’ve been working at this writing thing, I would have told you about six years. Well, maybe that’s the truth, but only part of it. The rest of the truth is that I’ve never consistently treated it like a true craft or a “real job” as I have these past few weeks.

That’s a shame.

I won’t fritter over “lost time” and “missed opportunities.” I promised myself to keep looking forward, and so march I shall.

Look, I hate to sound like a broken televangelist record, but let’s have a little Come-to-Jesus moment: If you haven’t gotten down on your knees and sought to reconcile yourself with the Blank Page, come and join me in the Kingdom of Productivity. You’ll sweat. You’ll fret. But all your writing sins will be forgiven and you’ll inherit a pile of stories you can call your own.

I promise you’ll thank me for it later. I wish Ray was still around so I could thank him.

-Phillip