Writing journal, no. 9

Blue Jay: Who wants to hear a story?

Jairo Alzate | Unsplash

Written while listening to Die on My Ride by Tengger Cavalry.

Few years back, I excused myself from trying too hard to “market and advertise” myself as a writer because I had not yet got a story written to meet the quality that I believed worth the time of other people to read.

Well, I know have got one. And it turns out that, back then, I sought for excuses with more than a little bit of unadulterated fear of failure.

Because that’s really what it is, isn’t it? I mean, I did have the convenient excuse back a few years ago that I had not yet got a story I felt confident enough about to genuinely try and sell it, but thing is I recall specifically that, back then, I would use it like a trump card in any conversation that turned on the question, “hey, man, you keep talking about being a professional writer. Why don’t you do it?”

Well, because I haven’t got a book written — not one that I think anyone ought to read. That’s what I’d tell people.

And anyone who tried to argue with me — people often tried to argue with me, because I only mingle with the best sorts of people — would immediately have all their arguments shut down when I repeated my trump card, but louder.

That is how you win an argument, after all. Find a slogan, and say it progressively louder every time somebody quibbles until everyone else stops talking. That’s how arguing works.

People haven’t asked me as much recently why I don’t try and become a “real writer.” Not sure why. Might be because I never talk to anyone. Might be that all my highly strategic rhetoric worked. Might be all this writing I’ve been doing — which seems least likely.

If anyone did ask me why I don’t finally take the plunge and try to become a “real writer,” I would, quite suddenly as the dawn, find myself without a trump card.

Because I have written a story that I feel confident about. I can say that without qualification today. It might not be the best I ever will write, it may not even be the best I have already written.

But it is “done,” insofar as that word applies to any work wrought by a living person.

And that is…so terrifying.

Because, suddenly as the dawn, all those conversations I had back when I explained to my argumentative friends that, “Oh, once I do have a book done enough to call it ‘done,’ whatever that means, then, man, I will know exactly what to do.” Because I had those conversations. Often. I’ve been researching publishing and “breaking in” for as long as I’ve been writing. Hypothetically, I am prepared. That’s what I’ve been telling people for, what? Maybe a hundred years. Not sure. However long it is, I’ve been saying that, as soon as I had got a book ‘ready,’ then the fires would start.

Well, now that I’ve got a book ready, all the memory of all those conversations and arguments, and all the weight of the research I’ve done into the publishing industry, it’s all started trickling back on top of me.

Now I’m asking myself that important question. “You’ve got a book ‘done.’ Now what?”

And now I’m remembering why I needed to use my trump-card, slogan-based argument to begin with: to deal with the utter terror of actually thinking about trying to get my book out there — of actually putting it in front of people and inviting them to suppose it wasn’t going to waste their time, and may in fact entertain them.

It’s a frightening thought.

Thing is, now that I’ve got this book “done,” and I can’t use “no book — no reason to work” as an excuse anymore, I find that I feel…calm.

Because, the thing is, I sort of have a plan now. I have kind of educated myself well enough to, if not feel certain about what’s going to happen, then to at least feel like I know what steps to start taking.

I know at least a few.

The first of which is to say that I’ve written a book, and I think it’s a pretty good one. I hope you can read it someday, and that soon.

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