I write because I have to.
As someone with many writer friends, someone who reads countless articles about or by writers, who longs to embrace the writing life, I frequently come across this phase or something similar to it.
I am sure that, for some people, the sentiment rings true.
But I’m throwing off my Artist Cloak, right here, right now, and admitting to everyone that I, Julie C. Gardner, do not have to write.
Not even a little bit.
Sure, when I was a toddler, I scribbled in my baby book pretending to write stories.
Later, I kept journals and dreamed of becoming an author. (Elementary school diary entries reveal my desperate desire to trade places with Judy Blume and to marry Shaun Cassidy. Spoiler alert: neither one seemed interested in these opportunities.)
As an adult, I left a career with a steady paycheck to toss my hat into the literary ring, hoping it wouldn’t be trampled by a stampede of faceless rejection.
In short, I began writing with crayons and still write, forty years later, with a computer. In my personal experience, Effort + Success – Failure = Reality.
And reality sometimes bites, right Ethan Hawke? Practically. Psychologically. A lot.
So why keep at it?
Occasionally, I stumble across a poorly-written book and think, “If this guy can be in print, so can I!” Unfortunately, these experiences are more frustrating than tempting, as the siren’s call of someone else’s LOW BAR has proven to sustain me for brief bursts of time.
Eventually, I read something that is beautiful, smart, transcendent. A real work of genius. That’s when I consider giving up. (By ‘eventually’ I mean every single day of my life.)
For some inexplicable reason, however, I wake up the next morning and greet the page again. In the face of other people’s brilliance. At the risk of my own failure. I march on.
(Believe me. I’m as surprised by this as you are.)
I limp along, persevering, although I do not have to. I wish I did. Being compelled to write by some undeniable force might make tackling the goal a little easier.
Because it’s hard to subject yourself to the emotional toll exacted by endless attempts; especially when conventional wisdom suggests you won’t succeed, or at least not in the ways you once imagined.
And it’s even harder to continue when your gut does not whisper this: “Psst……Julie….. Writing is life! The air you breathe! The passion in your heart and better half of your soul!”
My gut whispers, “Cheetos might be tasty. Or Fritos if that’s what’s left in the variety pack.”
So where does this confession leave me? Doomed to remain uninspired? Unmotivated?
With orange cheese dust on my fingers?
Maybe I am lucky that I do not have to write.
I write because I think I’m good at it and I’ve been encouraged from a young age to do so. Also, I enjoy the aftermath of having composed something decent.
Sometimes, I even want to write. But not even that often, if I’m being honest.
If this makes me an outsider in the writer-world, so be it.
Either way, I keep stringing words together. One at a time.
Despite an inner-voice that dares me I to quit, I continue to make writing a major focus of my life. And along the way, I’ve created a blog I love. Met friends who share my dream. (About writing. Not Shaun Cassidy. I think.)
I’ve completed three book-length manuscripts and have been published (more than once) and paid (more than once) for the words I write.
The process is painful and messy, joyous and hard; especially because, at the end of the day, I do not have to write.
But at the beginning of each day, I’m so glad that I can.