I got into writing for all the wrong reasons. It has not paid off. When I was 17 I envisioned freedom, frame and fun in a writing career. This I imagined as I daydreamed, gazing outside the window of my English classroom (ironically ignoring the English lesson). I thought a writer’s career was easy, breezy. Writers just wake up and write down whatever genius slips into their minds. Later they visit with Oprah about their nation changing novel. Afterwards, they travel and mingle with people almost as interesting as them, gathering material for things to write about next.
For years I believed that myth. Years. Which is a leading reason I have not done well. I didn’t trust lots of things. Mostly, I didn’t trust the writing itself. Not enough to just write for writing’s sake. I didn’t write because it simply made me feel good or was creative and exciting. Nope. I wrote for something else — towards something.
Admittedly, I got into this game for the wrong reasons. But the good part is that I didn’t stay in it for the wrong ones. I wasn’t truly aware of this until recently, but I stayed because when I write, I feel better. Actually, I feel good. The wrong reason to write for me was the focus on the end game, not the actual playing.
When I don’t write, it’s bad. I doubt. I go stir crazy. Then I stir, crazily, in my doubt. So now I write because I’m claiming my life back. And to do so, I have taken that final step, that one where I thought I needed the world’s validation, into my own hands.
You see, I can share my writing on my own. I can do that publishing piece not for fame and fortune, certainly not because it gives me freedom — indeed writing has me emotionally shackled. But because I think it matters.
For sure not everything I say matters to everyone — not even most people. But some of it matters to some people. Some of it helps.
There are books, many of them, poems, films, and essays that have changed my life. Songs and speeches, too. They’ve given me hope. Built my empathy. Made me laugh, cry. Made me a better teacher and writer. A better parent. A better person.
So now it’s my turn to share. Up my game. No one has published my four novels…yet. But I believe in the old saying, “there’s a reason for everything.” And maybe the reason they didn’t get published is because they aren’t, or I wasn’t, very good. Or maybe their purpose was to serve as warm-ups. Maybe it was because instead of just writing novels for children and young adults, I am also supposed to do this writing. These essays. Something, perhaps, better. Maybe I just needed decades with writing to help me see what it’s really for and how it helps people. Not just helps them get freedom and riches, but enriches their connections, their experiences, their lives. Things I totally knew on an intellectual level, but until late didn’t acknowledge I felt personally, inside.
All I know is that I’m here and this feels right. Well, as right as writing ever does.
So, because of the internet, no gatekeepers get to decide for me if what I write, or how I write it, is good enough, marketable enough.
I know I’m good enough to write. And also to decide what I write and share. Which is nice, the sharing and the deciding. Readers also have agency. They can decide if they want to read it, respond to it, or skip it entirely. I like this format. It’ll be like a party, engaging with this big crowd.
So good hope exists here now, in this writing game of mine. Not hope that I will be famous, or free or that it will always fun. But hope that I might connect, help or perhaps entertain someone else. Lord knows writer’s have done this for me.
Indeed it is because of other writers that I write. They are my strength. They’re the ones whose words have helped me crawl back into my chair. For decades. They’re the ones who get it — this elusive art we try to create. They’re the ones who help me to get it. It’s humbling to have been given this urge to write, often I don’t feel worthy. Maybe I am not worthy. I wonder if I’ll ever know? But I do know this. I am grateful — grateful for the people along the way who have given me the lessons, the encouragement, the strength and hope.
So it is with teachability and gratitude that I have arrived here at Medium. With each essay I push out, I also push out my doubt and fear in order that I do something to help the rest of my day go better…and maybe yours too.